Dayton Public Schools teachers say the father of Takoda Collins threatened school employees after they reported suspected abuse of the 10-year-old multiple times over several years before he died in December.
This is according to emails to state lawmakers from teachers at Horace Mann Elementary School, where Takoda attended from 2014 until his father Al-Mutahan McLean removed him from DPS for homeschooling in 2018.
After Takoda died Dec. 13, 2019, McLean was charged with endangering children, assault and rape. Police say he and two women who lived in the same house kept Takoda locked naked in an attic where he was abused emotionally and physically for years. Takoda died with numerous bruises and cuts on him.
The emails, obtained by the Dayton Daily News using Ohio public records law, ask for legislative changes to make it harder for someone accused of abuse to withdraw a child for homeschooling. They also express frustration that Takoda died despite numerous complaints to Montgomery County Children Services.
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The Dayton Daily News is not naming the teachers for safety reasons because of allegations they were threatened for reporting abuse.
“I called more than once and soon learned that others had called, too,” wrote a second-grade teacher in a Jan. 8 email to state Sen. Steve Huffman, a Republican whose senate district includes Horace Mann.
“As a staff we are trained to notice things such as bruises, marks and signs of neglect,” she wrote. “For as many years as Takoda was at our school, we called.”
She specifically said there were reports from the nurse, several teachers, the principal and police officers. Children Services said they had no open case on Takoda when he died.
She and another teacher at Horace Mann wrote that McLean became threatening after they contacted Children Services.
“The father called and threatened our staff and our former principal,” the other teacher wrote in a Dec. 26 email to state Rep. Fred Strahorn, D-Dayton. “He must have gotten tired of calls and withdrew Takoda to ‘home school’ him.”
Several Dayton-area lawmakers have requested an independent review of how the case was handled by agencies such as Children Services and Dayton Police, both of whom had received reports of abuse before Takoda died.
Sen. Huffman responded to the second-grade teacher’s email.
“I can only imagine the pain, anger and sadness you must be feeling as someone who knew and tried to protect him,” Huffman wrote. “You absolutely did the right thing by reporting any and all signs of abuse you suspected.”
“I understand you would like legislative action taken immediately to address the abuse and unspeakable terror suffered by Takoda and to prevent cases like this from occurring int the future,” Huffman wrote. “I think it is important to allow county prosecutors and law enforcement to conduct their investigations so we know exactly what happened and what was or was not done to protect Takoda.”
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