Flint Police investigating "taped mouth" allegations at school - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Flint Police investigating "taped mouth" allegations at local school

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FLINT (WJRT) -

(12/18/13) - Flint Police are investigating allegations made by a substitute teacher and parents.

Parents say the substitute teacher put tape on the mouths of kids, in the first grade, at Flint's Brownell STEM Academy last week.

School board member David Davenport went public with the allegations and pushed parents to get police involved.  He was with them at the Flint Police Department Wednesday to file reports.

It stems from the substitute teacher filing a police report first alleging Brownell's principal taped his mouth after he allegedly taped the mouth of a student there.

That's how Davenport said he found out about the "abuse."

Davenport provided an email he said Interim Superintendent Larry Watkins sent to school board members about the police complaint against the principal.

That email says the principal allegedly "...took some tape from a student's hand and aggressively placed it on the mouth of the victim causing laceration to his upper lip."

The victim, or reporting person, is the substitute teacher.

The email states the substitute has been fired from the district, a law firm has been contacted and the district, "...will take appropriate disciplinary action regarding the Principal's (sic) involvement."

Flint Schools Spokesman Bob Campbell said, "It's a personnel matter.  It's being handled accordingly."

"They ain't (sic) told us nothing," said parent Fred Criss.

He said his seven year old daughter told him her mouth was taped by a teacher just for talking.

"I didn't really think about it until she kept talking about it," Criss said.

"And I was like, 'What? Tape on your all mouth?' I didn't really know he really meant literally tape,'" said parent Chuck Steed.

Steed said his son and son's friend's mouths were taped too.

Steed was one of the parents at the police department, with Davenport, Wednesday morning.

Flint Police Captain T.P. Johnson said Chief James Tolbert wants everything looked at and investigation done.  When the investigation is done, it will be forwarded to the city attorney's office for review, according to Johnson. 

What's alleged could be considered a misdemeanor assault, according to police.  The city attorney's office handles those kinds of cases, according to Johnson. 

Parents spoke out at a school board meeting, Wednesday night.

Quite a few parents at that school board meeting said they can't believe this took place. They shared their frustration.

"Send the parents a letter, let them know their child's been duct taped," Davenport said.

He says members on the board are leaving parents in the dark about what happened earlier this month.

"You go to the administration, they did not notify the parents when it happened, these kids could have had some kind of allergic reaction, to duct tape, could have had asthma, anything could have hurt that child. They're sitting there acting like nothing happened saying we're investigating, it doesn't take you from Dec. 2 to Dec. 18 to notify a parent," he said.

Parents aren't having it.

"In a public school, we pay taxes for our kids to attend and something like this could happen and y'all don't have to inform us of the nature of what took place, or are you really saying y'all don't give a d***," one parent said.

Superintendent Larry Watkins says this is a personnel matter that is being looked into. When we asked if parents were notified, he said, "In that classroom, I have been informed that our building principal had conversation with the parents who have asked questions. Again, she's limited to what she can say as well. I want to make it clear that when parents have questions or comments, I have an open door policy, this board meeting is not the arena for us to have dialogue back and forth with our parents."

"Four parents went down and filed charges this morning on the teacher, but they will not release the name of the substitute teacher. What is going on here? This district is supposed to protect the children, not protect the man that assault the children," Davenport said.

ABC12 has learned that the police chief wants everything looked into. When the investigation is done, it will be forwarded to the city attorney's office.

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