A mother of an eight-year-old boy in Northern California said a teacher of his duct taped his mouth shut during class so he would stop talking, and another teacher put a chair on top of him as a punishment for misbehaving.
The boy is currently in special education, as he has an auditory disability.
Mother Luvy Torres said Antioch Charter Academy II teacher Michelle Mankewich put the tape over her son’s mouth in November. She discovered the incident after another mother asked her if she knew about it the next day.
She has filed a claim in Contra Costa County Superior Court and is seeking more than $10,000 in damages.
Torres said that, in a separate incident, another teacher put a chair over her son and sat on it because he was “fidgeting.” The teacher was Marianne Dubitsky who is known to be a close friend of Mankewich.
Armando Torres said other students laughed at him while he was being punished.
Julie Fajeau, another teacher, and principal Jeannie Dubitsky, are also named in the claim as violating her son’s constitutional rights after they conducted an internal investigation and found no wrongdoing.
The incident occurred in a combined classroom, which consisted of first, second, and third grades. Mankewich, Marianne Dubitsky and Fajeau were all teachers in the classroom.
Eight-year-old Torres said the teacher took a roll of adhesive tape and put it over his mouth. He said he was warned “not to remove it.” He also said she duct taped the hands of another child.
The family claims Armando is “traumatized” by the ordeal after he was teased by classmates.
They believe the principal, Jeannie Dubitsky, did not take action on the incident because one of the teachers in question is her daughter.
Torres was aware this might occur, and secretly recorded a discussion with the teachers where one admitted to duct taping the student.
“I walked over to his desk and I grabbed my duct tape and I came back and just put the duct tape on him,” the woman said. “I don’t think it was right to happen. I’m not going to justify that I should have done it because I shouldn’t have. I should not. I feel horrible that it happened. It was a joke.”
The teacher who put the chair on Torres, however, failed to admit to anything.
After meeting with the principal and teachers, the family received a letter explaining that the internal investigation found no wrongdoing by Mankewich, but did not mention anything about Dubitsky.
Armando now goes to a different school, while Mankewich and Dubitsky continue to teach at Antioch Academy.