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Elementary school assistant charged with assault on student with special needs

Mark MacDicken has been employed at the elementary school for around 10 years.

RESTON, Va. — A 60-year-old assistant has been charged after allegedly assaulting a student with special needs at an elementary school in Reston on Friday, according to police.

The Fairfax County Police Department said that two teachers at Dogwood Elementary School walked into their classroom Friday and witnessed Mark MacDicken, of Centreville, assaulting a student. There are no additional details on the extent of the assault.

MacDicken, who has worked at the school for about 10 years, was interviewed by police Monday, and his account confirmed what his colleagues reported. On Tuesday, he turned himself into police. Detectives charged MacDicken with assault and he was released on his signature.

"He does not have any criminal history and right now detective are still looking to see if there are more children involved," Captain Ryan Lazisky said. 

WUSA9 stopped by MacDicken's home Wednesday afternoon. His wife said he was out securing an attorney and would issue a statement after speaking to counsel.

"This should never happen," said one mom who said her son had endured bullying at the school the previous year. "They need to watch the kids. It should never get that far with the amount of people in that building."

Another dad shared he also has a child with autism at Dogwood, and initially wondered if the assault had happened to his child. 

"I read the email and was worried if it was my child," he said. "I hoped it wasn't. He is speech delayed so I can only imagine what kind of impact this had on the kids." 

No details surrounding the victim identity have been released, including age or gender. The school welcomes students from early head start preschool pre-K to 6th grade, according to the Fairfax County Public Schools website.

Dogwood Elementary School Principal Kate Beckner stated that MacDicken has been placed on administrative leave while the case is resolved.

"I understand this will come as a shock to our community," Beckner said in a statement. "The primary responsibility for anyone who works in education is the safety and wellbeing of children. When that trust appears to be broken, it affects us all."

MacDicken has worked as a family entertainer for more than 40 years, with his website describing his mix of magic and comedy performed at events and birthday parties, including dressing up as Santa Claus. 

Detectives are asking anyone with information regarding this incident to call our Major Crimes Bureau at 703-246-7800, option 4. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through Crime Solvers by phone at 866-411-8477 and by web. Anonymous tipsters are eligible for cash rewards of $100 to $1,000.  

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