|Father turns to the Internet for justice|
|Written by Abby Causer, Daily Vidette Columnist|
|Thursday, 26 April 2012 15:53|
The instances of people taking to the Internet, especially social networking sites, to bully their peers have been highly publicized and are unfortunately far too common for our nation’s youth. However, more and more people are taking to the Internet to push for social justice.
On April 20, Stuart Chaifetz posted a YouTube video regarding his 10-year-old son’s school, Horace Mann Elementary School in Cherry Hill, in New Jersey. According to MSNBC, the school had reported that Akian, Stuart’s autistic child, had demonstrated some violent behavior at school. The school assigned a behaviorist to the boy to see what might have caused this apparently drastic departure from his typically peaceful happy disposition. They were inconclusive.
Frustrated and puzzled, the boy’s father sent him to school wearing a wire, since part of the child’s disability means that he could not simply tell his dad what was upsetting him. The hours of recordings that Akian brought home were disturbing, and Stuart shared some of the worst sound bites in a 17-minute YouTube video.
The beginning of the tape reveals the teachers speaking as if the children can’t understand them, knowing that none of the children would be able to repeat the conversation. One teacher tells the other that she started that morning by throwing up from a hangover, saying “the wine won.”
The recording goes on and you hear the teachers tell the child quite violently, “shut your mouth.” She said, “Go ahead and scream, because guess what? You are going to get nothing until your mouth is shut.” She yells at and makes fun of the boy for talking quietly to himself. At one point, she said, “Akian, you are a bastard.” On this particular day, the boy was to go to his mother’s house and such a move makes him anxious, so he habitually asks, “May I see dad after mom?” needing reassurance that he will be returning to his father’s house where he spends most weeks. One of the women answers, “No. You cannot see,” and then cackles like some nefarious Disney villain.
At the time that Akian’s father made the video, he had brought the recordings to the school’s administrators and they had not fired the teachers or aids who were in the classroom and allowed the behavior to continue. They would also not reveal their last names to him. So, the school was keeping Akian’s father in the dark regarding his own child and some pretty vicious bullying coming from people he was supposed to be able to trust.
In the video, Stuart begs the public to call for these teachers to resign and asks the teachers directly to voluntarily resign. On Tuesday, the superintendent of the school district announced that the teachers heard in the recording had been fired, but still declined to release names.
Though Stuart said that he was not against tenure, I think the school district’s reluctance to deal with the matter is going to make a lot of decent hardworking teachers’ tenure look illegitimate.
It is also really sad that the school district did not take any action and kept the parent in the dark until the video went viral. If Akian’s father had not spoken out, would they have done anything?
Despicable people like those women should never be allowed in a school setting and when schools protect people like them, they lose legitimacy and faith in public education. As many of us are future educators, it is important for us to remember that in instances like these, bystanders can be just as guilty as the perpetrators and you will be responsible for the well-being of children and perception of the profession as a whole.