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Vicious Teacher Leads Bullying of Disabled Child

Posted by Cyn | Posted in News | Posted on 28-05-2008


Teacher lets kindergarten students vote 5-year-old "out of the class"

After each classmate was allowed to say what they didn't like about Barton's 5-year-old son, Alex, his Morningside Elementary teacher Wendy Portillo said they were going to take a vote, Barton said.

By a 14 to 2 margin, the students voted Alex — who is in the process of being diagnosed with autism — out of the class.

The teacher, Wendy Portillo (, has acknowledged that the incident happened. She had been participating in the child's IEP team since February, so she knew that Alex was being evaluated for a disability (most likely Asberger's syndrome, from the information in the article).

There isn't be any excuse for any adult treating any child that way, but a teacher to encourage children to ostracize a disabled child? That's even worse.

The school district has refused to fire Portillo, but claims that she has been moved to non-classroom duties. That isn't nearly enough.

Comments (3)

I’m assum­ing it actu­al­ly hap­pened this way, and we’re see­ing a fair report (which is a big IF) and I’m out­raged but past out­rages – like the assis­tant prin­ci­pal who was track­ing the gay & straight cou­ples for PDA or the teacher who inspect­ed girls at a prom to make sure they had bras on – have an ini­tial wave of indig­na­tion, and after sev­er­al months the teacher still has a job, pro­tect­ed by tenure, the union, etc. 

If it were my kid (and it could have been, as my kid with AS used to be a 5 year old kinder­garten­er) I’d be plot­ting to make her next acci­dent actu­al­ly LOOK like an acci­dent but you watch, they’re going to slap her wrist and in a few months she’ll be back in the classroom.

Good for the two kids who vot­ed for let­ting him stay. That’s unbe­liev­able brav­ery from a small child.

That mind absolute­ly boggles.

What an awful, awful story. 

I won­der what the truth of the mat­ter is. Pri­ma facie, that doesn’t sound like the behav­ior of any kind of teacher involved in an IEP process that I’ve ever heard of. It leads to so many ques­tions: was the teacher giv­en any train­ing about Asperger’s Syn­drome? Did she even believe it exists? Did she think the kid was being pur­pose­ly intractable? With the rise in the inci­dence of Asperger’s Syn­drome, that sounds impos­si­ble (we’re talk­ing one out of every 150 kids. In that line of work, you run into them all the time, in badly-coördinated droves.)

So was it a par­tial sto­ry told, incred­i­bly bad judg­ment, or what? Was it one of those “cry for help” things when a teacher is giv­en an impos­si­ble task? Or is there more to the sto­ry that we’re not hearing? 

The sto­ry seems to echo pop­u­lar culture’s “real­i­ty tv” notions of vot­ing peo­ple out of var­i­ous jobs, islands, etc. Is this hap­pen­ing in oth­er schools and oth­er con­texts? Life so often imi­tates art, which does tend to place some respon­si­bil­i­ty on art for its representations. 

It’s trou­bling — that it hap­pened, that it is report­ed this way. I won­der if we’ll ever find out what more hap­pened, what more there is to the story…