UNION COUNTY, NJ — An administrator at Dawn to Dusk, a Plainfield preschool, is accused of disciplining two students by brandishing a knife at them, according to acting Union County Prosecutor Michael A. Monahan.
Adetokunbo O. Akinnaso, 64, of Sicklerville in Camden County, is charged with two counts of cruelty or neglect of children, a fourth-degree offense.
A Special Victims Unit investigation into this matter was recently initiated by a referral from the New Jersey Department of Children and Families Institutional Abuse Investigation Unit, according to Union County Assistant Prosecutor Scott Peterson, who is prosecuting the case. The investigation revealed that after two 4-year-old students were taken to Akinnaso’s office for disciplinary reasons earlier this year, she produced a knife and threatened to harm them if they continued misbehaving, Peterson said.
Neither child was injured. Akinnaso surrendered to authorities on Tuesday and was released on a summons pending a first appearance in Superior Court.
According to Plainfield Public Schools Interim Superintendent Ronald Bolandi, “The safety and wellbeing of our Pre-K students is most important to our district. Although our day care centers are privately owned and we are not involved in the hiring of the staff, we do provide the resources necessary for our students to attend the centers. The district is aware of the incident and is working collaboratively with the owner of the preschool center.”
Bolandi also said, “In order to ensure the safety of our students, the center director was removed immediately and will not be returning to the preschool. This requirement was necessary in order for the owner to continue her contract with the district. We will be in communication with the family to provide support to the children involved and will continue to communicate with our families at the center throughout this process. Our main focus will be to provide the best services to our students.”
Convictions on fourth-degree criminal charges are commonly punishable by up to 18 months in state prison.