Takoda Collins: Emails from teachers push homeschool reform; say father threatened staff

Local News

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – An email sent by a teacher at Horace Mann Elementary School in Dayton to State Senator Steve Huffman (R-Tipp City) stated the father of Takoda Collins threatened the school’s staff after it continued to make abuse complaints to Montgomery County Jobs and Family Services.

The email was one of several sent by school staffers to Huffman, outraged over Collins’s death on Dec. 13, 2019 and pushing for legislative reform in Ohio homeschool law. Collins’s father Al-Mutahan McLean is charged with seven counts, including endangering children and rape of a person under 13 years old.

The emails were sent to WDTN.com in a records request to Sen. Huffman’s office.

The same email also stated law enforcement had called Montgomery County Jobs and Family Services about abuse Collins suffered as well as school staff.

“The nurse called, several teachers called, the principal called, police officers called,” the e-mail said. “Even after being threatened by his dad we continued to reach out for help for this child.”

McLean had pulled Collins from Dayton Public Schools in July 2018 after the school staff continued to make abuse complaints. The last known 911 call concerning Collins was in May 2019 when his mother Robin Collins called Montgomery County Regional Dispatch fearing Collins was being abused by McLean.

In an interview with 2 NEWS on Friday, Jan. 10, Dayton Public Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli said staff had called agencies 17 times to report abuse Collins suffered.

The emails pushed Huffman to take lead in reforming the state law on homeschooling children. Staff accused McLean of pulling Collins from school so he couldn’t continue to be reported to Children’s Services.

“I started to research the rights of homeschooled children and what protections we as the State of Ohio have in place for them,” another email read. “I was shocked to find that we have little to no protections in place for at-risk children like Takoda that are homeschooled.

“The parents of all children involved in the homeschooling of their children should be required to, at minimum, pass a criminal background check.”

Another teacher wrote: “The homeschooling option should not be granted to families with reported cases to Children’s Services.”

Dr. Lolli expressed similar concerns in her interview with 2 NEWS. Under current law, parents only need to file paperwork and keep an affidavit on file for test results. The affidavit can only be seen by the person in charge of homeschooling in the district.

“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.”

Huffman responded to at least two of the emails, sharing his condolences for Collins’s death and stating the need to let law enforcement and authorities investigate the case.

“I can only imagine the pain, anger and sadness you must be feeling as someone who knew and tried to protect him,” 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.”

McLean, Amanda Hinze and Jennifer Ebert will appear in Montgomery County Court on Jan. 15.

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