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Vicious Teacher Leads Bullying of Disabled Child

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

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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 (portillow@stlucie.k12.fl.us), 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…