Saturday, May 24, 2008

Alex Barton

Holy crap. What does the Florida state attorney's office consider emotional child abuse???

Not only was Alex Barton emotionally abused, but so was his entire class.

There's alot of buzz about how this child may have autism, and that autism caused behavioral issues, and this incident stems from those issue and behaviors.

I don't give a flying flip if he was from Mars and spit on the grave of the teacher's grandmother. You don't use a classroom of children to publicly humiliate a child. If having every peer a child has stand in front of him and tell him that he is not liked for various specific reasons and then vote him out of the class isn't emotional child abuse, folks, what the hell is??? It isn't like he wasn't just in the principal's office, for pete's sake! Don't you think he was already appropriately reprimanded? Do you have rub his nose into the dirt, too?

We always know when there has been a problematic incident at school; Joey comes home very upset, often repeating phrases such as "You're going to Ms. T!" or "Do you need to see Ms. T?" or "Ms. T... room 44." Ms. T is our principal (whom he actually calls Ms. T- I'm not hiding her name for FERPA. That is Joey's name for her.) We had a pretty long stretch after Christmas when it was so bad, and he was so perseverative on this, that I called and asked if he had been sent to Ms. T for something. He hadn't.

But other students in the class had. Some of them go quite regularly, even when in self-contained situations. If the strategies for dealing with behavior run out, that is where a student must go, so everyone is safe and the situation can be addressed. However, it doesn't just impact the student in distress; it also distresses the classmates- including Joey.

All of those students were part of beating up on a classmate. How many of them now live in fear that they may be next?

So I don't even see this as one count of child abuse. This was an assault on an entire classroom of children, with Alex Barton as the focus. If our current information is correct, and the teacher confirmed that this incident occurred, I have no idea why she remains employed. Even if the police do not know abuse when they see it, surely the school administration can clearly see a case of intentional causing of emotional distress in a child? Surely immediate suspension for a investigation is warranted? And if our information is, in fact, correct, a speedy dismissal?

Why aren't all the parents- not just Alex Barton's- up at arms about this, calling for this teacher's immediate dismissal? If this was either of my kids, they would not be returned to that class for any reason. And if immediate action wasn't taken, I'd be thinking "lawsuit" too.

Since Google seems to have picked up on this post (thus channeling a good bit of new traffic to this post), allow me to direct folks to some other excellent posts on the subject. All of these blogs are worth reading. Sorry if the list is not inclusive of all the great blogs and posts which have addressed this, but you should make the rounds of most of them after checking these out and the posts and blogs the refer to:
Whitterer on Autism
Club 166
Mom- Not Otherwise Specified
Maternal Instincts
Big White Hat
A Room of Mama's Own


abfh said...

This was an assault on an entire classroom of children, with Alex Barton as the focus.

Absolutely right.

Several years ago, I found another school for my kids after they told me that the principal had been holding assemblies where she would gleefully announce the names of all the students who had been suspended. Although my kids were not her targets, no child should be in such a toxic environment.

mike stanton said...

Christschool has done a masterful job of compiling draft letters of complaint to the authorities and the media over at Thinking in Metaphors. Anyone who wants to use them please let Christschool know and also forward copies to ASAN who are trying to coordinate responses.

kristi said...

Yep, exactly! I found this on Cafe Mom and I had a fit!!

Kimberly said...

I noticed Joey is white and the teacher is black. What if the races had been switched? I know Jesse Jackson would be marching the streets by now and calling this discrimmination!

jonathanm said...
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Kramermom said...

I'm an adult with AS. My son has AS. When will this kind of discrimination end? Why is it always Kindergarten teachers who are the only ones caught guilty of crap like this? And why isn't the school making reparations to the Barton family for the emotional abuse inflicted, not just on Alex, but the whole family, his best friend, and the other children?

Unknown said...

Honey sometimes there are big people out there who are mean, just like some kids. I am afraid your teacher is a bad lady. No one should have done this to you. Alex, you be proud of yourself. You are a special little boy. There are alot of us out here who love you & understand. You almost have to feel sad for your teacher Alex. She doesn't understand how special you are. Sometimes big people are mean. Your teacher was mean. When they are they usually aren't happy with themselves. She may never like herself. Alex, so many people out here love you. You be proud of who you are. The other kids were intimidated (explain that to him Mama), into voting against you. They really do like you honey. They were just afraid of your mean teacher. Alex, God Bless You. You are a special, precious young man.

SWPaul said...

You'd be thinking of suing if this was your child? Well, of course you would. People like you who overreact to every little thing that happens to your child. And when this happens to a "special needs" child, suddenly the reaction turns into rage.

Sure it's the teacher's fault IF the story is competelely true. It's also partially the (and here's where you'll probably hit the roof) mother's fault for coddling the child to an extreme. Children, "special", 5, or whatever, can discern what other kids feel and think about them, and I can be sure that from what others have said to him, he doesn't want to be a "special child" anymore. He wants to be like the other kids, running around, playing, getting into mischief, not being hounded over for every little thing by society.

But his mother, and all of you, won't let the child be his own person. Alex is not special, he's a boy like some of your kids I'm sure. If you knew Alex and were asked to describe him to someone, would you say he's, "special"? If so, you are one terrible person. And my point is that if Alex was treated like a child (with proper precautions for his conditions, but not excessive precautions), his classmates surely wouldn't have seen anything different with Alex and would therefore have no conflict with the child. They would have stood firmly against what the teacher was doing to the child.

If, of course, the teacher did what the story says she did.

Joeymom said...

Why does it matter that this was a special needs child? What gives any adult the right to publicly focus humiliation on a five-year-old?

Oh, and we're just going on what the teacher admits she did. Sorry if that isn't good enough evidence for you. Usually holds up in court.

heatherhitch said...

The entire situation is outrageous. SWPaul, I have to wonder what your little issue with the world is when you think it is okay to crucify a child in a room full of peers? Maybe you should put down that heavy chip you have obviously been carrying around for so long?
And you think his mother should rear him as any other child is reared in the world? You have obviously never dealt CORRECTLY with any human being with a disability of any kind.
The teacher admitted what she did. My suggestion would be she find a new career path, one that doesn't involve interacting with humans on any level.
Alex is very much his own person. If he weren't, he wouldn't have had the courage to share with his mom the horrific event he was forced to endure. That shows strength and self confidence. I am sure somewhere in the back of his mind he was fearful that if all those other people cared for and trusted thought he was so rotten, maybe his mommy might too? Thank GOD his mom is his mom and that SWPaul is not his dad.
To Alex and his mommy, you can overcome this and emerge with self confidence again. To all the other children in the classroom, be thankful you were not standing there in front of that class that day. I am sure classmates could have found something cruel to say about any child that day. I hope your parents are teaching you what was wrong about what happened.
To the teacher, ah, I am sure you have heard it all and are already hanging your head in shame.
To SWPaul, man am I glad you aren't in a parent in my kids class!

Anonymous said...

This problem is in no way the teacher's fault. It was not right for the school to put an autistic child in a classroom full of children who are willing and capable of learning at a regular speed. The school should have a class or room seperate for Alex to learn at whatever pace he is capable of.

The fact is, he has autism and can't possibly interact with the kids like most people do. It's not like this was the first time he has ever been confronted with being distracting, he is constantly sent to the principle's office and being reprimanded. He is a distraction to the teacher and the classroom and ruins the education for the rest of the children.

That teacher had done all she could and maybe having all of Alex's peers confront him with his problems was just what he needed to maybe make a change in his attitude. He may have a disibility but that doesn't mean he can do whatever he wants, it's about time someone did something.

tim said...
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Joeymom said...

Wendy Portillo was the adult in that classroom. She knowingly humiliated a child for acting in a way she knew was due to his disability.

That, folks, is illegal. It is behavior like this that required the passing of laws that say you cannot discriminate against people with disabilities- because far too many people do, and think such discrimination is not only acceptable, but reasonable and correct.

If I had one of the OTHER children in the classroom- not Alex Barton, but one of the other peers- I would be on the warpath. How dare someone teach my child it is OK to insult and humiliate a disabled peer? Or even a non-disabled peer? What if Alex Barton wasn't disabled- would it then be OK to sit him in front of a classroom, encourage other children to attack his character, then vote him out the room?

Excuse me, but NO. And a teacher of any training and understanding of children should know better.