🍎 Protestors demanded 'justice' for a 4-year-old abused by his teacher

🍎 The family says their son was dangled upside-down by his ankles

🍎 Police and the school district say an investigation is ongoing

SOUTH ORANGE — Protestors are demanding that an Essex County school district release the name of a teacher accused of dangling a four-year-old child upside down in a preschool classroom earlier this year.

The family of Daylan Wilkins told reporters in March that the non-verbal boy on the autism spectrum came home from school on Monday, March 28 with bruises and cuts. Two days later, they received a call from the principal of Montrose Early Childhood Center, a school in the South Orange-Maplewood School District, explaining that Daylan had been abused by his teacher.

A Justice for Daylan rally at the South Orange train station on Saturday brought out dozens of community members outraged that the teacher has not yet been fired and that the child's mother, Devena Wilkins, was not notified of the incident until two days afterward.

Rally for Daylan Wilkins 4/29/23. (Christian Durán via Facebook)
Rally for Daylan Wilkins 4/29/23. (Christian Durán via Facebook)

"She should have known as soon as she picked him up on the day that it happened," one speaker said.

🍎 Investigation into teacher abuse ongoing

Adaliana Cuadrado, secretary to the superintendent, told New Jersey 101.5 on Monday that the teacher remains on administrative leave. Over one month later, the district has not named the teacher.

The Division of Child Protection and Permanency, the Essex County Prosecutor's Office, and the South Orange police are investigating. South Orange police Chief Ernesto Morillo said in a recent statement to the community that authorities are gathering evidence "that might support criminal charges if appropriate."

A protestor speaks at the Justice for Daylan Rally. (Dayvus Leesa via Facebook)
A protestor speaks at the Justice for Daylan Rally. (Dayvus Leesa via Facebook)

"No parent should ever feel that their child is anything but safe when left in the care of faculty at any school," Morillo said. "That being said, it is also important that everyone receives due process when accused of any act, especially one that may be deemed criminal."

🍎 Outrage at South Orange-Maplewood school board meeting

The statement from police came after several residents spoke passionately at a recent district school board meeting. They called the incident the latest in a district that struggles to meet the needs of disabled and minority students.

Superintendent Ronald Taylor. (South Orange & Maplewood School District via Youtube)
Superintendent Ronald Taylor. (South Orange & Maplewood School District via Youtube)

In response, Superintendent Ronald Taylor said school officials including board members were restricted legally from speaking on the accusations.

"Please know that we are taking this matter very seriously and working with the appropriate authorities and providing all the information that they need to complete their investigation," Taylor said.

Rick Rickman is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at richard.rickman@townsquaremedia.com

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