Substitute teacher sued for duct taping first grade students' mouths shut

Posted at 10:35 PM, Oct 13, 2016

Four elementary school students and their parents are suing their first grade substitute teacher over how he silenced kids who spoke out during morning attendance.

The teacher admits to doing it, and wrote a report justifying it.

Sammy, Malayia, David and Deshawn were among 15 first graders who, one-by-one, were silenced with duct tape.

“He was ripping it off and giving it to people and said put it on our mouths,” says Sammy Griffin. “I put it half way on to here.”

It happened here at Brownell Elementary School in Flint, Michigan in December of 2013.  The substitute teacher who had been there more than a dozen previous times was 47-year-old Ian Moten. 

He lives not far from the school.

Moten wrote several pages of notes to HR the next day.  He says he gave the kids 4 options:

  • Be quiet
  • Stand on the wall
  • Get some tape on their mouths
  • Or go to the behavior specialist.

He also said: the tape was a humorous attempt to get the class to be silent but these little first graders turned the table and volunteered to put tape on their mouths.

He went on to say: this method worked and it infuriated the staff who wanted to prove I was incompetent.

“Everyone is at fault and jealous of him,” says attorney Tom Pabst. “Everyone’s at fault but him.”

The kids were also asked to write about it and several did:

  • I was scared.
  • He put tape on r mouth. He put tape on everybody’s mouth. I was mad.

The notes are dated, 2 weeks after.  The memories are still fresh today.

One first grader had more than just his mouth taped shut.  His face was covered in tape.
“Like he taped over this part,” says Sammy. “He just taped his whole head. Except for the eyes, the nose and the mouth.”

Parents say they were not given answers for 3 weeks, after hearing it from their kids.

“The school tried to keep it hush hush, tried to sweep it under the rug,” says Sammy’s mother Shatika Parlor. “I can’t trust them. Do I need to take my son out of this school?”

The principal at Brownell must have also been shocked when she discovered the kids with their mouths taped shut.

She let them know, she was on their side

“She got so angry she ripped tape off one of the kids and put it on his mouth and he had the gall to file a criminal complaint against her because she embarrassed him in front of the kids,” says Pabst.

“Everyone started to laugh at him. I kind of did,” says Sammy. “He got his mouth taped and he’s a grown up.”

Back at Mr. Moten’s house he told us, ”My lawyer said don’t discuss that because that’s not the original copy. That’s not true,” before slamming the door.

A jury is set to hear this case in Flint next month.

If the kids win money damages, it goes into a trust fund that becomes available to them when they turn 21.