KINDERGARTENERS, lead by their teacher, voted 14-to-2 to kick out 5-year-old Alex Barton from his kindergarten classroom. The teacher, Wendy Portillo, brought Alex to the front of the class and had his classmates tell how they felt about his behavior. Earlier, Alex had kicked a table leg and threw some crayons, appropriate behavior for a time out, not to be humiliated in front of the class and then thrown out forever.
TEACHERS AND TRUST
We trust teachers to protect our children, especially kindergartners -- the youngest, the most impressionable and vulnerable. If the child is further vulnerable due to autism, you don't anticipate that his teacher will discriminate and punish the child for his disability. In this case, compassion and teacher's ethics were not present.
AUTISM --MISTREATED AND MISUNDERSTOOD
It happened one year ago. The school was Morningside Elementary School at Port St. Lucie, FL. Alex became a symbol around the world of how kids with autism are mistreated and misunderstood. The incident was the topic of blogs, national television news reports, radio programs and newspaper articles. Public response was immediate in support to Alex and his family.
Teacher Wendy Portillo was reassigned to school district offices. The Schools Superintendent recommended to the School Board that it suspend her without pay for one year and take away her tenure. The School Board agreed with the recommendation. Portillo appealed. However this March, an administrative law judge heard testimony from both sides and upheld the superintendent's recommendation.
REINSTATED WITH TENURE
But guess what? The teacher's punishment has been changed. The school district had previously determined that Portillo violated the state's code of ethics for teachers, according to the Miami Herald. However, last week the St. Lucie County School Board voted to reinstate Portillo's tenure upon her return to teaching in November. That means she is guaranteed a teaching position with the school district at the end of her suspension, reports Disability Scoop. What happened?
Apparently if the board doesn't care for the judge's ruling, they can simply disregard it. This I don't understand.
The boy's mother, Melissa Barton, is suing the school district claiming discrimination and that her son's civil rights were violated. Perhaps the School Board is more concerned about a potential discrimination suit from Portillo than the one already filed by Barton. A lawsuit claiming discrimination by Portillo may be seen as a potentially more expensive proposition for the school district by setting a precedent for future lawsuits by teachers.
Where do things stand now? Little Alex Barton is being schooled at home. And come Fall, Teacher Wendy Portillo is going to get another classroom of little children.
TP READ "AUTISTIC KINDERGARTENER ALEX BARTON VOTED OUT OF CLASS: NOW ON HONOR ROLL" CLICK HERE.
TO READ "PARENTS SUE SCHOOL FOR ARREST OF AUTISTIC 8-YEAR-OLD GIRL," CLICK HERE.
TO READ: "Teachers Ethics Lesson: Don't Bind Black Students to Teach Slavery," CLICK HERE.
TO READ: "The Code of Ethics: Assn. of American Educators," CLICK HERE.