Thursday, May 29, 2008

Majority ruled.

Many of you are already aware of the story about Alex Barton. He's the 5 year old who was voted out of his Kindergarten class "Survivor style", meaning his teacher gathered the class together, had them say what they didn't like about Alex, and proceeded to have them vote on whether or not they wanted Alex to remain a part of the classroom. The result? 14-2, young Alex was ousted from the class. Full story can be found here, and here.

I don't know about you, but I am totally outraged. I can't believe that not only can a teacher be allowed to do this (the principal supported her decision), but I am most disgusted that the teacher presented it the way she did and held "council" with her students.

I cannot imagine what is going through Alex's mom's head. My heart goes out to them. Knowing the difficulty involved in making friendships, and the importance of social relationships- and Alex was made to sit there and listen to his peers- his friends- say all the things they didn't like about him? Ohmigod, it would have taken everything I had to keep from busting into that school with an arsenal of whoop-ass.

If you've been following this blog, you'll know that Jaysen has had some pretty rough times in school too. He has been discriminated against by his teacher, wrongly punished for being Autistic by his principal, verbally attacked and goaded by classroom volunteers just to see him "go off", and other lovely things that make me want to pick up an interest in Voodoo.

The parental community at Jaysen's school formed a united front, and approached the principal about having Jaysen removed from the school. At this point, the principal knew that the school had screwed up, and they were afraid of a lawsuit, so she told the parents that Jaysen's placement in school is not their decision. They threatened to pull their kids out of the school unless Jaysen was removed- the principal told them there was nothing she could do about it.

The parents didn't like that, so what was the next step? They made phone calls, they wrote letters, they filed complaints. Twenty-two of them stormed the Board of Education to have my son kicked out of school. Twenty-two! And they were loud, and mean, and relentless.
All fueled by just one individual...who can't be bothered by a special needs child.

His teacher.

From the beginning, she singled him out and made a spectacle of him. She criticized him daily. She talked all kinds of crap to the classroom parents on what a "bad kid that kid is", and there's something wrong with him. Why these people are allowed to teach kids is a mystery to me. Teachers have a strange authority. They're supposed to help shape a child's life, not wreck it.

For four months, my son was not allowed to interact with his peers. Despite my advocating, and the support of the special education department, Jaysen was kept in a "Quiet Room" which was a dim room with only a desk and chair in it. The special education department agreed that the school was punishing the victim, and that they were segregating him, but somehow it kept "slipping through" and never was remedied. That was his "learning environment" for four months. It was also about the time I obtained legal counsel.

Jaysen is just now starting to realize that things are different for him. He is supposed to be reintegrated into the classroom, he wants to be a part of the classroom, but they're finding excuses to keep him out of it. The latest one is the class is working on testing that Jaysen did last week. Well, why did he do it last week instead of this week with everyone else? Because he blew through the testing and completed it before the rest of the class? Oh, but I thought he was "below grade level" in everything? Hmmm. See what I mean?

Stay strong, Melissa Barton. Alex is worth every ounce of energy you're putting into this, and you're blowing it wide open for everyone to see that all schools are not created equal. Get yourself a good attorney and fight like hell.

4 comments:

Mary P Jones (MPJ) said...

I thought of Jaysen's experience and what you've been through with the parents at your school when I heard this story -- and read the comments some people have been making in support of what the teacher did! Sheesh.

I read today that you can e-mail Alex's family at supportalex@treasurecoast.com. I wrote a letter to the school district to express my support for the family, but haven't written the family directly yet.

TLC said...

Wow. That's crazy that parents did that. I am glad you have representation now.

I homeschool, and I pulled my son out of school after the First grade. He couldn't hack the classroom, even with an aide. The teacher wasn't being trained, the district wasn 't supporting her and I felt bad for her. My son was never bullied, but I know it would have been a matter of time. He is happy being homeschooled, and now has friends, something he didn't have much of in school.

Anonymous said...

It's hard to imagine this happening in the 21st century in the United States, except maybe in some sort of weird cult community.

FableForge said...

Four months in the quiet room? I will go ballistic with this.

It seems like your son has communication skills (based from reading your blogs)which my son still lacks so most likely you may have gotten information from him on what is going on in the school? In our case, he went home with bruises and was told that he did it himself or he fell here, bumped there, etc...I never knew what really happened since my son cannot talk yet that time (Kindergarten). It happened numerous times. When we complained to the district, we were told that there will be an investigation by the police. It never took place as we let him transferred to another school. And this second school was even worse than the first school. It was really a nightmare. Hence, we are in the third and final school.

Nonetheless, I hope you and your son are doing well in the new school.