The Montrose Early Childhood Center in South Orange (Facebook photo)

April is Autism Awareness and Acceptance Month

Last week, a four-year-old autistic child at the Montrose Early Childhood Center in South Orange was held upside down by his ankles in front of adults and perhaps some other students, according to a complaint received earlier this week by the Department of Children and Family Services.

According to published reports, 4-year-old Daylan Wilkins was abused and victimized by his teacher at the Montrose Early Childhood Center in South Orange. The teacher assaulted the non-verbal child in front of other adults. The school’s principal, Bonita Samuels, immediately reported the allegation and filed a complaint with the Department of Children and Family Services.

In an interview with a local television station, the boy’s mother, Devena Wilkins said, “He was hung upside down by both of his ankles.” The boy’s grandmother, Candie Wilkins, said, “I could not believe that a person could do something like that to a child, especially an autistic child.” The teacher, who has not been publicly identified, has been fired. It’s unclear if any criminal charges will be filed.

However, this is not the first time in recent months that the South Orange-Maplewood School District has been at the center of scandal and controversy. In March, a former student filed a lawsuit against the district, alleging years of sexual abuse against a former Middle School and high school assistant principal.

And in December, a former teacher at the l district filed a lawsuit claiming she was forced to resign from the South Orange-Maplewood school district because she was assigned to teach a class that included special education students. The teacher was forced to teach the class without an in-class aide, and the constant stress caused her to break down and frequently cry in front of students.

Rodney Taylor, the South Orange-Maplewood School district superintendent, has yet to respond to an e-mail request for comment. However, a statement released by the school district to media outlets on Wednesday read, in part, “Health and safety of our students are the highest priority for the South Orange and Maplewood School District. We are cooperating with the appropriate authorities…..”

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