Autistic boy's father: Why hasn't teacher been fired over &#39

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By Ian Johnston, msnbc.com

Updated at 4:40 p.m. ET: The father of an autistic boy allegedly bullied by staff at a New Jersey school has vowed to keep campaigning until the teacher of his son's class has her license revoked.

Stuart Chaifetz, 44, put a wire on his son Akian, 10, and recorded staff in his class at Horace Mann Elementary School in Cherry Hill calling the child "a bastard," talking about vomiting that morning due to a hangover, and apparently teasing the child to the point where he had a "half-hour meltdown."

At least one classroom aide reportedly lost her job and on Tuesday Superintendent Maureen Reusche said she wanted "to assure our parents that the individuals who are heard on the recording raising their voices and inappropriately addressing children no longer work in the district and have not since shortly after we received the copy of the recording.”But Chaifetz then said he had discovered that the teacher of his son's class, Kelly Altenburg, was moved to another school and not fired, while a teachers union official told msnbc.com Wednesday that Altenburg "basically was exonerated."

However on Thursday, Reusche and the education board president issued a statement saying it disagreed with the union official's claim, adding "the District does not consider the matter closed at this time as the investigation remains ongoing."

Chaifetz, an investigator with an animal protection group, Showing Animals Respect and Kindness, or SHARK, believes Altenburg was one of those making offensive comments in the classroom, and as the teacher in charge she should be held responsible for what he considers bullying behavior by other staff.

"When did teachers become more important than children?" he said.

"Even if she said nothing, she should be fired because that room was her responsibility," he added.

Chaifetz decided to put a wire on Akian after staff repeatedly complained the child was hitting them and throwing chairs around. He could not understand why his "wonderful, happy" son would act in this way and decided to find out what was going on in the class. Akian's autism meant he was unable to explain.

Chaifetz, speaking in a YouTube video that contained clips from the February recording, said the tape revealed that staff at the school were "literally making my son's life a living hell."

"Okay, Akian, you are a bastard," was one comment on the tape from a woman Chaifetz said he's "99 percent" sure was the teacher.

"Go ahead and scream, because guess what? You are going to get nothing until your mouth is shut," a woman's voice was heard saying in another exchange.

He also recorded a conversation between two people in the class talking about the consequences of a night out drinking wine with a friend.

"You know what I was doing this morning?" said one woman. "Heaving?" asked the other. "Oh my God, so bad. The wine won."



Speaking to msnbc.com Thursday, Steve Wollmer, communications director for the New Jersey Education Association, the state's largest teachers union, said that when he said Wednesday that Altenburg "basically was exonerated" he did so based on the district's statement that those who had used inappropriate language were no longer working in the district.
Wollmer said that as Altenburg had been reassigned to another school within the district, he thought she had been cleared. He admitted that he should have been more specific and said she had been cleared of making the "inappropriate" and "horrible" statements.

He said he did not know why Altenburg was still apparently under investigation.

Wollmer added that Altenburg was “very serious about her work, really sees it as her life’s calling and is very good at it.”

Speaking in general terms, he said that "before people accuse people of things, they want to know if they're accusing them fairly or accurately."

"What if she were not present at the time? There were teacher aides involved in this. What if she were not in that immediate part of the room? If you don't witness something, how can you stop it?" Wollmer said.

Altenburg's attorney, Matthew B. Wieliczko, said that "at this time, we have no comment," when contacted by msnbc.com.
Chaifetz said the school district's Tuesday statement "certainly made the public think that teacher was no longer there -- how else do you read that unless you are a Harvard-educated lawyer."

"I'm not letting this go. I will take this to the department of education and get her license revoked so she cannot work anywhere else," Chaifetz said.

"I think there need to be offenses that teachers get fired for, regardless of tenure or not," he added. "When you can prove bullying by a teacher, tenure should be meaningless."

Child 'doing much better'
Akian has now left Horace Mann, and Chaifetz said he was "doing much better now he's away from there."

"He doesn't have any of the behaviors he had then. It only happened when he was with the teacher, Kelly Altenburg, and the aide," he said. "But I think he's got some scars from this.

How could he not?"

The YouTube video containing clips from the recording had more than 2.9 million views as of 9 a.m. ET Thursday, and an online petition to "pass legislation so that teachers who bully children are immediately fired" had 111,000 signatures.

Chaifetz said the response has had been "overwhelming."

"There are so many wonderful people, people with stories of them being bullied, they are coming in every hour, hundreds of emails," he said. "This is really pervasive. There's a lot of bullying, there's a lot of bullying of special needs kids. It's like an epidemic."

He said his son's case had "opened up a big window into what's going on."

"People feel like they're alone," he said. "One positive thing that has come out of this: They saw a parent standing up and it's helping them stand up too."

The Associated Press has found at least nine similar cases across the U.S. since 2003. It said parents of special needs students had secretly recorded teachers using insults like
"bastard," "tard," "damn dumb" and "a hippo in a ballerina suit." A bus driver threatened to slap one child, while a bus monitor told another, "Shut up, you little dog."

Chaifetz said he had given advice to "a couple" of other parents on how to put a wire on their child, after they contacted him about it, but cautioned people to check to laws in their state.

Source:MSNBC
http://usnews.msnbc....r-bullying?lite

She needs to have her license revoked.
Damn title cut out bullying.
 

Tom Bombadildo

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The teacher should only get her license revoked if they can prove she was either making any comment or didn't stop the comments. As it said in the article, no one is really sure the teacher said...anything, and how could she stop it if she wasn't around at the time? I say they should still investigate, but if no proof comes about then I see no reason why she should have her license revoked, especially if she is truly good at her job (as it says in the article).

EDIT: Oh wait, she was cleared concerning any statements being made...
 

Chikaku-chan

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What did I just read..? :blink:
From what I understood of it.....
Unreliable source is unreliable..?
Since its just a wire and the wire really is only audio where is the proof that it was a certain person,
instead of it being another woman who works in the same facility...

That is just my little input there.
 

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Never gonna to happen. Teachers are untouchable in the States. Unless a teacher shoots a kid point blank, they won't ever get fired.
 

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Disgusting. Absolutely disgusting. I am training to be a primary teacher and it outrages me that people would treat children, regardless of their condition, like this. I hope that everyone gets their teaching license revoked. They are horrible people.
 
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ZAFDeltaForce

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Never gonna to happen. Teachers are untouchable in the States. Unless a teacher shoots a kid point blank, they won't ever get fired.
How about teacher-student relationships? :creep:

But honestly though, if all that was said is true, I hope those responsible get what they deserve. Picking on a kid is bad, picking on an autistic child is even worse
 

Hells Malice

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What did I just read..? :blink:
From what I understood of it.....
Unreliable source is unreliable..?
Since its just a wire and the wire really is only audio where is the proof that it was a certain person,
instead of it being another woman who works in the same facility...

That is just my little input there.

Because everyone talks in the same way, and same tone o_o?
Yeeeah, that's how.
 

Chikaku-chan

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What did I just read..? :blink:
From what I understood of it.....
Unreliable source is unreliable..?
Since its just a wire and the wire really is only audio where is the proof that it was a certain person,
instead of it being another woman who works in the same facility...

That is just my little input there.

Because everyone talks in the same way, and same tone o_o?
Yeeeah, that's how.
I personally don't recognise people from there voices... so I wouldn't know,
Plus if it was that simple, why hasn't it been dealt with if that was enough proof
 

Hells Malice

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What did I just read..? :blink:
From what I understood of it.....
Unreliable source is unreliable..?
Since its just a wire and the wire really is only audio where is the proof that it was a certain person,
instead of it being another woman who works in the same facility...

That is just my little input there.

Because everyone talks in the same way, and same tone o_o?
Yeeeah, that's how.
I personally don't recognise people from there voices... so I wouldn't know,
Plus if it was that simple, why hasn't it been dealt with if that was enough proof

Well at work we talk over the radio all the time and it's easy to tell voices apart.
It probably is that simple, but it's probably also halted by the fact people, and especially the legal system, are completely retarded.
 
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Chikaku-chan

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What did I just read..? :blink:
From what I understood of it.....
Unreliable source is unreliable..?
Since its just a wire and the wire really is only audio where is the proof that it was a certain person,
instead of it being another woman who works in the same facility...

That is just my little input there.

Because everyone talks in the same way, and same tone o_o?
Yeeeah, that's how.
I personally don't recognise people from there voices... so I wouldn't know,
Plus if it was that simple, why hasn't it been dealt with if that was enough proof

Well at work we talk over the radio all the time and it's easy to tell voices apart.
It probably is that simple, but it's probably also halted by the fact people, and especially the legal system, are completely retarded.
True.... damn you legal system!!! >.>
 

Shinigami357

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Weird how some people go all "well you can't say for sure who it was from their voice!!!!!!!"

It's ridiculous, really. A little familiarity goes a long way here. People are just too visually-reliant to really realize how distinctive the human voice is. Hell, if you can recognize one voice actor/actress from one anime/cartoon/video game to another, what more if it's a person you have actually talked to?

Plus, there are audio equipment capable of tracking down vocal patterns IIRC [not voice per se, but the core of how sound - and thus a person's voice - works].


PS

If these people are proven to have done this horrible, horrible thing, I hope they really pay for it.

I mean, seriously, pick on someone your own mental capacity, for crying out loud!
 

Haloman800

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If it is as bad as the recording makes it out to be, surely she'll be fired. Our legal system isn't so bad as to let blatant harassment slide by, especially when the victim is an autistic child.
 

Sora de Eclaune

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That reminds me of the "autistic" girl (everyone said she was autistic, but she didn't act like it) who lived down the street from me in first grade. I vividly remember the time someone tripped me into her and I didn't even get the chance to say sorry before she screamed and ran away.

I think it was because of that kind of behavior that this group of kids bullied her up until the day she wielded this big huge stick like a madwoman and chased them around the playground screaming something that vaguely sounded like "BULLY ME, YOU WILL NOT". I can't remember if the teachers did anything about that or not, since that group of kids really did deserve it.
 

Guild McCommunist

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Don't hate on the unions.

Education unions are fucking awful and probably one of the biggest obstacles in real education reform.

Like I get a union "by teachers, for teachers", and they should exist, but they've become so ungodly powerful in terms of how education is handled that almost nothing happens.

I think something like out of 55,000 tenured teachers last year, ten were fired. Tenured teachers can be notorious for basically doing whatever the fuck they want, like this, and getting away with it. Because if you go after a teacher's job, if they're unionized, you're kinda fucked. For small offenses like this they can probably walk away without an issue because they've got tenure. It's not even just issues like these. Awful teachers get shoveled around school districts because they can't fire them. So you're stuck with suboptimal teachers getting an ever-increasing paycheck and benefits because they can't get fired. I mean almost every other profession you get fired if you fuck up. Almost every other licensed profession would get their license revoked and job lost by doing things akin to what some tenured teachers do.

Unions aren't bad, they should be allowed to give workers a say in how they're treated. But often large unions become too powerful, wielding their support and funds as a weapon to enforce change or a lack thereof. It's why education has basically been unchanged for 50 years in this nation, because teachers unions make sure it doesn't happen and makes sure teachers are here to stay.

So don't hate on unions as a whole, just hate on unions that cripple America.
 

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