An Oahu mother alleges that her four-year-old son was taped down by two teachers as punishment at his private school. Dana Matsukawa said her son told her they used masking tape to hold him down on the carpet for five minutes at Windward Nazarene Academy last month for kicking a student and not sitting still.
"He said, 'I was lying down like this, Mommy.' So I said, 'Did you have one piece of tape?' He said, 'I had one piece of tape here (chest) and one piece of tape by my legs,'" said Dawn Matsukawa.
Matsukawa is a teacher at a public elementary school. She said when she contacted the instructors allegedly involved, they told her that the boy was confused and that everyone had tape on them as part of a lesson plan.
"I didn't feel like it was adequate. I didn't know how tape could be used to teach a Noah's Ark lesson," Matsukawa said.
Matsukawa said after questioning other instructors, she believes her son was taped down three different times, with another alleged incident involving transparent adhesive tape across his lap. According to her, one teacher confessed and another admitted to seeing the boy taped twice.
The principal and lead pastor declined to comment on the allegations. The school's attorney did not return a call seeking a response.
Matsukawa said she eventually received a letter from the school after administrators met with her and her husband. According to the letter, the Windward Nazarene Academy board concluded there was no danger to the children so the teachers wouldn't be shifted. The principal also said she would contact other concerned parents and meet with them individually.
"Our teachers are very trusted and proven leaders in our school community. They consistently have the loving care of the children foremost in their hearts," wrote principal Kay Hishinuma in the letter.
Matsukawa said another family is meeting with the school about two alleged taping incidents this year. Matsukawa and a parent of two former students also claim that other preschool children have witnessed teachers using tape for punishment during the past two years.
Michael Furuya said his two sons used to attend the academy. According to him, his younger son saw similar discipline in a classroom last year.
"He mentioned that he saw another boy get taped and that boy was crying," Furuya said.
Furuya said he wrote a letter to the school outlining some of his concerns, including reports from his older son about being grabbed by the face and pulled by the ear. Furuya said he has not received a response.
"We want these people to be held with integrity, with some kind of real discipline, and we feel like at this point they're not really listening to the students and the parents," Furuya said.
Matsukawa said she has filed complaints with the Hawaii Association of Independent Schools and the Department of Human Services.