(By a Guest Blogger, Stuart Chaifetz in NJ) How My Son Was Humiliated and Verbally Tormented by His Teacher and Aide
My name is Stuart Chaifetz, and my son, Akian, is a ten-year old boy who has Autism. Akian has always been a sweet and non-violent child. That is why it was so distressing when notes started coming home from his school, Horace Mann Elementary in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, stating that he was having violent outbursts, including him hitting his teacher and aide.
I could not understand why this was happening. I had never witnessed Akian hit anyone, nor could I dream of him lashing out as had been described to me. In October, I had a meeting with the IEP team (the teacher, school social worker, occupational therapist and speech teacher) to try to figure out what was going on. From that meeting, a behaviorist was called in who wrote a report. I sat down with the behaviorist on February 8, 2012 to review the findings.
It was pointless. The behaviorist was in the classroom a number of times. Not only had he never witnessed any violent event, but when he tried to create a similar scenario, he failed.
Something was terribly wrong. I felt I was beginning to lose my son – that these outbursts were changing his very nature. The teacher and school social worker tried to downplay it, almost mocking me for my concern. But I knew my son. I knew this wasn’t him. I knew I had to find out what was happening in his class that was having a dramatic impact on him.
On the morning of Friday, February 17, 2012, I wired my son and sent him to school. That night, when I listened to the audio my life changed forever. I heard my son being bullied by his teacher and aide.
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. His outbursts were his way of expressing that he was being emotionally hurt at school.
I took the entire audio to the Cherry Hill school district and to their credit they took immediate action and fired one aide. For some reason the teacher and other aide were not fired, but instead moved to other schools.
I don’t know why the teacher wasn’t fired. 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.
But that Akian’s teacher, Kelly, was not fired and still works in the school district is an outrage I am not willing to allow to pass in silence. Silence is the issue, for even though one aide was fired, no one was told what had actually happened; the truth was being kept quiet.
I love and respect my son too much to let those who mistreated him have their shameful actions buried and hidden. For me to do nothing would mean I was treating my son with as much disrespect as they had. Every person is worthy of justice and to not seek it for them is an offense as bad as the original transgression.
To this end, I seek a full and public apology from all those adults who were in my son’s class for what they did to him.
It is also far past time that these issues are allowed to be hidden from public view. If a teacher bullies a child, especially one with Special Needs, they need to be immediately fired.
- No excuses
- No second chances
- No more teacher bullies
“My Son Being Bullied By His Teacher and Aide” Posted by a Guest Blogger, Stuart Chaifetz in NJ
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