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Father says teacher duct-taped boy with special needs

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TEMPE, Ariz. — A Valley father says a teacher duct-taped his special needs son at school.

“I’ve never heard of this happening,” Destin Howato said. “I’ve never heard of it. A teacher would do this? Never.”

Howato’s 11-year-old son, Armando, is autistic.

He’s non-verbal and has the mental capacity of a second-grader.

“He’s loving. He’s a loving kid. There’s no reason to have that happen to him,” Howato told KPHO. “He can’t say for himself. He can’t speak up for himself.”

A month ago, Armando started attending ACES East, a special education school in Tempe.

“This is a school that is supposed to be there for our special needs children,” Howato said. “If this can happen to my son, it can happen to other people’s sons or daughters.”

Howato said Armando’s teacher wrapped his legs in duct tape last week.

“I’m furious,” Howato said. “I’m mad. I don’t believe anybody’s kid should be duct-taped at all.”

He says the reason given by the school’s administrators is absurd.

“To keep his shoes on, that’s what they told me,” Howato said.

The school released a statement that stated the teacher did duct tape Armando’s shoes to his legs.

Armando’s teacher said the boy kicked off his shoes several times.

When the teacher called his mother, she gave her permission to use duct tape on the student’s shoes.

The school statement goes on to say the teacher duct-taped his shoes to his legs with part of the tape adhering to his skin.

“I went down to the police department and filed charges against him,” Howato said of the teacher. “I think he needs to be arrested. That’s child abuse.”

The ACES school said it is against their policy to use duct tape on a student, and the teacher is on administrative leave.

Full ACES School Statement:

“The ACES has received permission from the student’s mother to provide additional information regarding the alleged incident.

On Friday, March 25, 2016, the student was kicking his shoes off repeatedly in the classroom creating an unsafe environment for other students. To facilitate assisting the student with keeping the high top sneakers on his feet, the student’s mother gave the teacher permission to place duct tape on the student’s shoes. Unfortunately, unbeknown to the student’s mother and the school administration, ¼ inch to ½ inch of the tape came into contact with the student’s skin around his ankle. At no time were the student’s legs taped together nor was the student’s movement restricted. The student was not harmed in any way as a result of this incident.

The school has provided full transparency to the student’s parents, the Department of Child Safety and the Tempe police department. The school administration highly regrets the decision made by the staff member and is confident that at no time was the student’s safety or welfare at risk.

It is against school policy to use duct tape on a student, for any reason. The staff member in question has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation. After the investigation has been completed, the school will take the appropriate disciplinary action including possible termination. The ACES sincerely regrets that this incident occurred. Safety and respect for all students are our highest priorities.”