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Michigan boy, 5, says substitute teacher aide taped his mouth shut, tossed lunch

Michigan preschooler says aide taped his mouth
Credit: Houda Dannaoui
Houda Dannaoui and her 5-year-old son Abdul.
Credit: Houda Dannaoui
Adbul Dannaoui, 5-years-old

Houda Dannaoui says she was shocked when she went to pick up her 5-year-old son, Abdul Dannaoui, from preschool March 27 and was told that he was found during lunchtime with his mouth taped shut and his food thrown in the garbage. 

"My heart dropped," she told the Free Press. 

Dannaoui said she was told one of the teachers in the Crestwood School District's preschool program in Michigan  walked in and discovered what a substitute teacher's assistant had done on March 26. 

Dannaoui said no one from the program called to tell her what happened. Instead, she found out about it when picking her son up the following day. Dannaoui said she's especially upset because Abdul has asthma.

Dr. Laurine VanValkenburg, superintendent of the Crestwood School District, told the Free Press that the substitute teacher's assistant, who was not a full-time employee, has been dismissed.

"We will say that this is not the normal standard of care that we provide to students," VanValkenburg said. "We always work to ensure that all children are safe and secure in a quality setting."

VanValkenburg said state licensing has visited to investigate the report and Dearborn Heights Police were at the building on Thursday. "We've certainly been very transparent," VanValkenburg said. 

However, Dannaoui said Abdul told her there had also been other incidents involving a different teacher.

Credit: Houda Dannaoui
Houda Dannaoui and her 5-year-old son Abdul.

According to Abdul, the incidents also involved another teacher that would supervise students when the primary teacher was away or eating lunch. 

But Houda Dannaoui says the school told her there wasn't any proof that the second individual, a teacher who is still working at the school, took part in what was happening to her child. She said she has filed a report with Dearborn Heights police, which police confirmed.

Dannaoui said her son told her that second teacher gave him a "beautiful bracelet" and told him not to tell his parents that she was involved, that it was only the substitute teacher's assistant. 

Dannaoui told the Free Press her son said, "She promised me she won't do it again and she's going to be nice." But Dannaoui said the school principal told her that teacher wouldn't do this to a child. 

Houda Dannaoui told the Free Press that the principal told her that what happened "was wrong, but it's not a crime." 

When asked about other Crestwood School District faculty involvement, VanValkenburg said there was only one incident with the one substitute teacher's assistant. 

"Should I believe my son? or should I say he's a liar?" Houda Dannaoui  said. "Something is not right..how is my son not telling the truth?"

"He grabbed my face and told me, "Mom, I'm not a liar."

The family's attorney, Nabih Ayad, said the family may file an official complaint and Abdul has been transferred to another school 

"We feel like this was a joke, a prank among the teachers," Ayad said. "(They have) no basis for teaching at this school." 

Ayad said Abdul was "abused, assaulted and basically traumatized.

"You think that you're sending them to a safe, good environment," he said. "They've lost all confidence in the school."

Follow Aleanna Siacon on Twitter @AleannaSiacon

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