DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Teachers and staff at Horace Mann Elementary School contacted agencies 17 times about suspected abuse inflicted on Takoda Collins while he was attending Dayton Public Schools, according to Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Lolli.
Lolli, who spoke to WDTN.com Friday, said teachers and staff had contacted agencies 15 times about abuse concerns and principals at the school had contacted agencies two additional times.
“My staff did exactly what we would expect them to do,” Lolli said. “They went above and beyond to try and protect this child.”
Teachers and school staff are classified as mandatory reporters under federal and state law. This means they must report any suspected concerns of child abuse to children’s services or the police. Police departments weren’t mandatory reporters until Ohio law changed in October 2019.
Lolli said Al-Mutahan McLean, Collins’ father, had called Dayton Public Schools Central Office complaining about the staff’s repeated contact with children’s services.
Lolli: McLean misused homeschool law to keep son away from mandatory reporters
The last contact the district had with Collins was in May 2018, the same month a Dayton Public Schools employee called police after she was concerned when Collins had been called in sick for school. The employee had called Montgomery County Jobs and Family Services concerned over abuse and had contacted a caseworker two days before.
Police visited the home at 1934 Kensington in Dayton. They didn’t get an answer when responding.
Two months later, McLean filed paperwork to homeschool Collins. Lolli said she believed McLean used the homeschool law to escape the scrutiny of the school staff.
“Please understand, the majority of homeschooling parents do very well with their children,” Lolli said. “This isn’t a public school vs. homeschool situation. This is about someone using homeschooling to cover up things that would have been harmful to that person had it been known and recognized.”
Lolli said under current Ohio law, parents need only to submit the appropriate paperwork and keep an affidavit on file with test results, which can only be accessed by the administrator running the homeschool program for that school district.
According to the Coalition for Responsible Home Education’s website, Ohio’s homeschooling laws underwent extensive changes in 1989 and was last reviewed in 2013.
Lolli said prior to the changes, local school districts decided how to implement homeschooling procedures within the framework of state law. She said at DPS, children and parents met with the administrator in charge of homeschooling for interviews. If students hadn’t previously been in the DPS system, the interviews would be more in-depth.
Lolli said under the previous rules, DPS required homeschooled students to take tests at the beginning, middle and end of the school year to gauge their education. Parents would meet with a school administrator if the children weren’t testing well and suggest changes to the curriculum to help them catch up.
Lolli said the vast majority of homeschooled children passed tests and the parents handled their education responsibly. She didn’t see a need to change the law except in cases where a parent had a case of abuse on file. “If you are a parent who has a report on file and potential abuse on file, you should have to bring your child in,” Lolli said.
McLean and two other adults living with Collins, Jennifer Ebert and Amanda Hinze, are due in court on Jan. 15. They pleaded not guilty in December on charges related to child abuse and child endangerment. McLean is charged with seven counts, including rape of a person under the age of 13. All three are in the Montgomery County Jail.
2 NEWS contacted Montgomery County Jobs and Family Services for an interview or a statement, but hadn’t heard back as of the publish time of this article.
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