Louisiana principal accused of locking girl, 5, in closet

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A Louisiana school principal is accused of locking a 5-year-old girl in a dirty, roach-infested cafeteria closet.

Teachers told police the kindergarten student was hysterical when they heard her screams and found her. According to The Advocate , she told police that the closet had “spiders and roaches in it that crawl on her.”

Shafeeq Syid Shamsid Deen, the principal at Laurel Oaks Charter School, turned himself in Friday and was arrested on charges of cruelty to a juvenile, which is a felony, and false imprisonment, Baton Rouge police said.

Deen, 31, is accused of locking a student in a cafeteria closet on August 22, according to the emailed statement from Police Sgt. L’Jean Mckneely Jr. At the time, the child had been a student for 12 days.

The charter school’s board suspended Deen while it investigates.

“Laurel Oaks Charter School is committed to the safety and well-being of all students,” board chairman Brian Adams wrote in a statement to news media. “Any action that would constitute a crime or result in neglect of a child has never been the policy at Laurel Oaks Charter School and is currently not the policy.”

Adams told The Advocate he could not answer other questions because of the investigation.

According to the school’s website, Laurel Oaks opened last year with kindergarten students, and is adding one grade a year.

The attorney listed on the website as its chairwoman said in an email Friday that she resigned more than a year ago.

The arrest warrant quoted the child as saying Deen told her to “go into the closet with the spiders and if she screamed he would turn the lights off.”

The child said she began screaming because she’d been in the closet “a long time.”

The warrant said a teacher who emailed her objections to the punishment got a reply from Deen saying, “Thank you for your observation and note. We will work to make sure we have a proper time out area for scholars to reset in the cafeteria,” news media reported.

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