Saturday, May 24, 2008

Autistic Student Abused in St. Lucie County Schools

ASAN has issued the following call to action for the autistic community regarding the abuse of an autistic kindergarten student, Alex Barton, by his teacher, Wendy Portillo.


As some of you may already be aware from news articles and blog posts on the topic, last week a Morningside Elementary Kindergarten teacher had students "vote out" of the class a 5-year old autistic student named Alex Barton. According to the news article, the teacher had each of Alex's classmates, including his sole friend in the class, state publicly what they disliked about him and then announced that they would take a vote to remove him from the class. Alex has not been back to school since and has suffered significant emotional trauma as a result of this incident. Regardless of who you are or what your connection to the autistic and autism communities might be, I think we can all agree that this is unacceptable.

We need to band together to prevent future such abuses from occurring, to ensure that this teacher is properly disciplined and to encourage this school to adopt both a strong bullying prevention policy and training on respect for all forms of diversity aimed at both teachers and students. As such, we've provided contact information below for you to write to communicate your outrage. Please be polite yet firm in your comments, pointing out the unacceptability of such actions when aimed at any student, as well as the need for this school to adopt policies to prevent this from happening in the future. This is an opportunity to drive home the message that we will not stand by while one of our own is abused. We ask that you please cc: in your e-mails to the school district so we can keep track of the strength and sources of this response. Remember: abusive messages hurt our cause - please be respectful in your comments.

Contact info:

Morningside Elementary School Principal:
Mrs. Marcia Cully
(772) 337-6730

St. Lucie County Schools Superintendent:
Michael J. Lannon
4204 Okeechobee Road
Ft. Pierce FL 34947-5414
Phone: 772/429-3925
FAX: 772/429-3916

St. Lucie County School Board Chair:
Carol Hilson

Vice Chair:Judith Miller

Ari Ne'eman
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network
1101 15th Street, NW Suite 1212
Washington, DC 20005


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.

sapphoq said...

I wouldn't allow that teacher near my dog, never mind another child who has or is on the way to having a broad autistic spectrum diagnosis or not.

The boy is five years old.
And the teacher is ?

spike q. furious

TheMan said...

It is very sad that something like this could be allowed to happen.
Not only should the teacher be held responsible, but the administrative staff should be held accountable as well for allowing someone like that to be employed with the school.
The Board of Education should act to have these people removed.
Here in Newcomerstown Ohio, the Newcomerstown Exempted School Distict seems to think that it is appropriate for the Special Education students to be sent and held in a "time-out room".
Of course they use the term "resource room" to describe it, although it is used as a form of punishment instead of learning.
I have the written forms from the school itself to prove this, since my son was being sent to this room.
I would also like to add that the use of "time-out rooms" have been banned from the schools here in Ohio for several years now.
We have contacted Ohio Legal Services, and an Ombudsman has been appointed to start an investigation. I have also written to the Ohio Board of Education with a full detailed explanation of what my family has had to deal with.
When we first moved to Newcomerstown Ohio, I wondered what the word "exempted" meant to be included with the name of the school district here.
Well, it turns out it's because they seem to think they are "exempt" from the law.

asansouthwestohio said...

TheMan, let us know how it goes with the investigation. Good job standing up for your son!