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Autistic boy gets bullied by the schools' staff.

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout' started by BrieflySpeaking, Apr 25, 2012.

  1. BrieflySpeaking

    BrieflySpeaking Contributing Member

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    Some disgraceful stuff here. This parent is exposing the school to the fullest and surprisingly he isn't even going to sue. Need more people like this guy.

    http://shine.yahoo.com/parenting/stuart-chaifetz-secretly-tapes-autistic-son-school-discovers-220500111.html

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    When his 10-year-old son, Akian, started getting into trouble at school, Stuart Chaifetz was stunned. The notes from Horace Mann Elementary School in Cherry Hill, N.J., said that Akian, who has autism, was having violent outbursts and hitting his teacher and his aide -- behavior that the boy had never exhibited before.

    "I could not understand why this was happening," Chaifetz, a 44-year-old animal rights activist in New Jersey, wrote on his website. "I had never witnessed Akian hit anyone, nor could I dream of him lashing out as had been described to me."

    Related: Bullying, child abuse hastens aging in kids

    In October 2011, he met with Akian's teachers and school therapists. A behaviorist was called in, but during several classroom visits he didn't see Akian become violent. "He tried to create a scenario that would push Akian so far that he would lash out," Chaifetz explained. "And Akian did not."

    "If Akian was pushed and didn't do anything, what was setting him off?" his dad wondered. After six months of meetings yielded no answers, he decided that he needed to know what was happening in his son's class. Like Akian, all of the other kids in his class also have autism, and complications from the disorder prevent them from being able to communicate to their parents about what goes on in the classroom.

    "The morning of February 17, I put a wire on my son, and I sent him to school," Chaifetz says in a video he created to showcase the audio clips. "What I heard on that audio was so disgusting, vile, and just an absolute disrespect and bullying of my son, that happened not by other children, but by his teacher, and the aides -- the people who were supposed to protect him. They were literally making my son's life a living hell."



    The recordings are raw and intense. Angry adults yell at kids to "shut up," "shut your mouth," and "knock it off." Adults have inappropriate personal conversations in front of the children, discussing how drunk they were the night before, complaining about their husbands, and talking in detail about adult issues. More than once, an adult goads Akian to the point of tears -- and then laughs at him.

    "Go ahead and scream," one adult hisses menacingly at Akian. "Because guess what? You're going to get nothing… until your mouth is shut."

    And later: "Oh, Akian, you are a b*stard."


    "The six and a half hours of audio I had proved that my son wasn't hitting the teacher because there was something wrong with him -- he was lashing out because he was being mocked, mistreated and humiliated," Chaifetz writes on his website, No More Teacher/Bully. "His outbursts were his way of expressing that he was being emotionally hurt at school."

    Chaifetz gave the entire six-and-a-half-hour recording to the Cherry Hill School district (you can hear more of the clips here). One aide, Jodi Sgouros, was fired. Another aide and the teacher, whom the Collingswood Patch identifies as Kelly Altenburg, were reassigned but not fired.

    "I don't know why the teacher wasn't fired," Chaifetz writes on his blog. "Maybe the District had no choice; perhaps tenure or HR regulations did not permit them to do so. I know that they were sincere and shocked when they found out what happened. I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt in this."

    On Tuesday, officials at the Horace Mann School in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, directed calls from Yahoo! Shine to the Cherry Hill School District's offices; a call to a spokesperson there was not immediately returned. Cherry Hill Public School District spokesperson Susan Bastnagel told the Collingswood Patch on Tuesday only that the incident is "an internal personnel matter that the district took seriously and handled appropriately."

    Chaifetz disagrees, and has started a Facebook page and launched a petition at Change.org calling for the teacher's dismissal. He's already gathered nearly 18,500 signatures. "No one who treats children like that, who calls them vicious names, who humiliates them, who batters them verbally, deserves to be a teacher," Chaifetz says in the video.
    "How is it possible that teachers and staff can do these things, and you have evidence -- not just accusations, but evidence -- and they're still teaching?" he said in an interview with Babble.com. To me, that's the bigger outrage here. How many times has this happened before? How many times will it happen again if I remain quiet?"
    For his part, Chaifetz says that what he really wants from the teacher and aides involved is a public apology and a willingness to take responsibility for their actions.

    "I want an apology, not for me, but so one day I can play this video back for my son and say Akian, you didn't deserve anything that happened to you," he says in the video. "I'm not going to sue anybody. I'm not going to file a lawsuit. It's not about money. It's about dignity. This is to reclaim my son's dignity."
     
  2. Carl Herrera

    Carl Herrera Contributing Member

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    At least these teachers did not do p*rn six years ago. That could really have traumatized the kid. I mean, you are autistic, the last thing you need is Big Sausage Pizza.
     
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  3. apollo33

    apollo33 Member

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    These teachers probably had no actual training on dealing with autistic kids. It takes a lot of patience and it can get frustrating.

    They should screen these people harder when they hire the teachers.
     
    1 person likes this.
  4. DaleDoback

    DaleDoback Contributing Member

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    I have a 7 year old son with Autism and I have had several run-in's with idiot parents making horrible comments directed at my kid. This father is a better man than I could ever be.......cause after reading and watching the reports on this....I'd be going for blood on all involved.
     
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  5. YallMean

    YallMean Member

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    this subsject has a special place in my heart.
    I watched the half the video, cant say rally feel that sympathetic for the dad. There is quite a bit overreaction here.
    That said, he should request class visits once awhile from now and should just go ahead get a lawyer instead turning the evidence to the district next time if he feels bad stuff had happened.
     
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  6. YallMean

    YallMean Member

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    This is different. Please dont Make remarks like that in this post. Not funny.
     
  7. rhadamanthus

    rhadamanthus Contributing Member

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    It's not funny, true - but I don't think that was Carl's point at all. It's insightful commentary on real problems vs. manufactured faux outrage.
     
  8. Jontro

    Jontro Member

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    Sometimes it should be OK to deal with certain people with street justice.

    Also isn't there a CFer who is a teacher for students with special needs? Was it smoothie? I can't remember for sure. Well maybe he can give us an input on the training for those teachers and if he knows other teachers that are similar.
     
  9. kevC

    kevC Contributing Member

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    I agree. He seems to be bit of a rabble-rouser evidenced by this: "Chaifetz, a 44-year-old animal rights activist". Yes, the teachers were inappropriate and should be reprimanded but saying that they were treating the kids like "subhumans"? :rolleyes: They were just being really dumb.
     
  10. Xerobull

    Xerobull You son of a b!tch! I'm in!

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    Teachers messing up like this is only hurting public education funding. Don't they understand that their livelihood is on the line here? 'Small government' proponents want to slash the hell out of education funding and outsource it to test prep companies.
     
  11. Ziggy

    Ziggy QUEEN ANON

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    If I had memories of teachers acting like this towards me when I was young I'd want to go back, find them, reprimand them personally, then piss on their faces. Not sure he's overreacting. I don't care how old I am, treat me with some God damn respect and professionalism.
     
  12. YallMean

    YallMean Member

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    I get his points, see my post above. If he could put it differently, it would be much more appreciated by me. Sometimes wise cracks lose force because of the taste.

    Anyways, I have close family members with Autism. I also do some pro bono work for parents needing special education resources, meaning I don't charge them. Particularly my specialty is autism, for that, I help parents write appeal against insurance denail of their sevice request, like behavioral, speech, occupational, etc to the state medical independent review board. I help them come up with strategies to prepare for due process fair hearings. I help them understand IDEA, e.g. IEP, laws as to autism. I talk to sepecial ed teachers and school psycologists, speech therapists a lot. Although I don't practice special ed law for money, I do keep myself updated on the law and medical literature in my personal time.

    That said, I did not feel much sympathy to the Dad in the video. First, I don't like he taped the teachers secretly, much less put the audio on the internet. Those words were said without aware of they were taped. We don't know the circumstances where they were said, why they were said. There is no video, so we can't tell. It's at least not fair, let alone their legal aspects to it too, for him accuse the teachers like that. Moreover, stuff like "shut your mouth or no food", although disturbing, could very be a behavior model approah encouraged by the Applied Behavior (ABA) method.

    Second, based on what I have listened, he doesn't seem to me a very engaging Dad. His kid is placed in a moderate to severe class for autistic kids, and is 10 years old. Where was the communication between him and the teachers involved and the district leading up to this incident. If the teacher has this type of problem, shouldn't he be on alert a little earlier. I don't know the circumstance so I can't judge, but most the parents I deal with know the teacher of their kids pretty pretty well and very awrea of what's going on in the class. It's no excuse for him to say my kid cannot communicate so I don't know.

    Next, what does he mean, he needs a behaviorist to assess his kid? Should the school have a fairly comprehensive record about his kid for the placement and if the school didn't do that job, where was he during the assessment and every IEP he attended?

    I don't want to defend teachers behaving inapporiately in a special ed class, but I do want to add a perspective here. As some has said, special ad class like autism is very very stressful. I get frustrated dealing with some of these kids just for a couple of hours. Teachers are humans too. On top of that, you have IDEA, and litigious parents fighting for resources and threaten to sue all the time. I sometimes feel for those teachers in dealing with them. They get paid a lot for dealing with the crap they have to deal with.

    Last, if he is so serious and touchy about his son's well-being, he should communicate with the school and teachers more, request school visists more. My gut feeling from the video, he himself could not deal with his own kid 24x7 and sort of dump it to school. I do not blame him, if that's the case, but again there is private services which he can demand a heck a lot more than free public services for a cost.
     
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  13. Hightop

    Hightop Member

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    Destroy all government "schools".
     
  14. ima_drummer2k

    ima_drummer2k Contributing Member

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    Well said, YallMean. Repped accordingly.

    Maybe I'm being cynical, but I'd like to hear the teacher's side of the story before I crucify her. The dad almost seems like he's more interested in getting attention and being the hero than actually helping his son.
     
  15. gah

    gah Member

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    I have to wonder how seriously you take your job if you have the guts to roll your eyes at this, just like Carl pointed, it is ridiculous that a woman will automatically lose her job because of her past but this guy doesn't when he is clearly breaching the first and most basic ethical order of his profession. The only way I'd say don't fire him would be if he was a college teacher. But pulling this off while being a teacher for kids with special needs? He would deserve to be fired even if he were to be a HS teacher. Inexcusable.
     
  16. JuanValdez

    JuanValdez Contributing Member

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    As someone with personal experience, what do you think of this arrangement they have of putting all the autistic kids together? Reading the article, I felt like that was the source of the problem and a very bad idea. Having a bunch of autistic kids together would put a lot of stress on the teachers and cause them to disengage their empathies -- to see the kids' autism as their own persecution, and to lash out at the kids as a result. You often see that behavior in child-abuse and elderly-abuse all the time where the caretaker is just in over their heads. I see it in me sometimes when my kids push my buttons (don't worry, I don't abuse them, but sometimes I can't quite muster the empathy I should).

    On the flip-side, maybe these teachers are trained to deal with autism, and maybe it's not realistic to spread the autistic kids out with teachers and peer-groups that don't know how to handle it. So, I'm not sure the best way to handle it, but it really seems to me that this class didn't have enough resources (in teachers and/or training) to deal with an autistic class. I hope the school doesn't simply staff the class with new people and carry on as before. It'll happen again.
     
  17. gah

    gah Member

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    Did you watch the video? That Jodi is total trash, the teacher is not too far off because at a minimum he allowed that to happen (can't tell how much he participated). I do agree that the father seems to be whoring himself for attention. I'd automatically go to court just to avoid having to take matters into my own hands.
     
  18. giddyup

    giddyup Contributing Member

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    I've been working as a substitute teacher for the last couple of years and about half of that time has been working with Autistic children. On Monday, I begin a 5-week sub job as an Assistant Teacher in a classroom where the 8 boys are all about Akian's (?) age.

    It is challenging and you often have to take a deep breath but these beastly teachers seem to be inadequately managed. One of the teachers I know had posted this on FB and she pointed out that she works in Special Education so anyone going to work in that field ought to know what the Special part refers to.

    Their behavior is a conspiracy. I'm pretty sure the primary teacher has to have a license to teach Special Ed. In NC, assistant teachers do not need a special license but they have to have the heart for the kids and they are WATCHED like a hawk by those responsible-- meaning primary teachers and administrators.

    Here's another movie on this topic that has been recommended to me by one of the other teachers I know:

    http://www.hulu.com/watch/235717/loving-lampposts
     
  19. YallMean

    YallMean Member

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    The taped conversation was bothersome, but OTOH, we don't know where and how was it said. Seems to me they were made as private conversation among the teacher and her aids. You know special ed class has extended play time and during which teachers typically chat amongster themselves. Also many special ed teachers office is right inside the classroom.
     
  20. giddyup

    giddyup Contributing Member

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    Typically, in NC, there will be a Primary teacher and an Assistant for an Autistic classroom population of 5-8. In addition, there can be behavior specialists assigned to just one child. I've been in one classroom with a Primary Teacher, no Assistant but 2 Behavior Specialists for a class of 3 kids. It's still a hard day in that room.

    A classroom of 25 non-Autistic is much easier.
     

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