Five-year-old Alex Barton was voted out of kindergarten class by his fellow students in Port St. Lucie, Florida. Before the vote, his teacher told classmates to say what they didn’t like about Alex: He was labeled “disgusting” and “annoying.” They voted 14 to 2 to kick him out of class.
The boy apparently has Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of high-functioning autism that’s linked to poor social skills. Children can learn how to function in a group but they need to be taught explicitly and they may always be awkward, withdrawn or odd.
Alex has had disciplinary issues because of his disabilities, Barton said. The school and district has met with Barton and her son to create an individual education plan, she said. His teacher, Wendy Portillo, has attended these meetings, she said.
I’ll bet the plan doesn’t call for public humiliation and isolation.
Barton said after the vote, Alex’s teacher asked him how he felt.
“He said, ‘I feel sad,'” she said.
He hasn’t been back to class since the vote. When his mother takes him to school to drop off his sibling, he starts screaming.
Barton filed a complaint. The teacher “confirmed the incident did occur,” says a police spokeswoman. The state attorney’s office decided not to file charges for emotional child abuse. Apparently, the school district has taken no action. The mother is considering filing a lawsuit.
This is the equivalent of putting a slow child at the front of the class and asking students to vote on whether he’s too stupid to be in the class. It doesn’t have to be a criminal case of emotional abuse for it to be cause to remove the teacher from contact with children.
Thanks to Cardinal Fang and Daily Kos diarist MaccaJ.
Update: The district has reassigned the teacher to a desk job while the incident is being investigated.
Update II: Melissa Clouthier, mother of an Asperger’s child, links to a CBS interview in which the mother says Alex’s best friend — the only friend he’s ever made — didn’t want him kicked out of class but when the teacher asked him a second time he changed his vote to side with the majority.
Update III: The teacher says she only meant to kick Alex out of class for the rest of the day, not permanently. He’d been removed by the school resource officer for lying under a table and kicking it with his feet; she thought he should stay out longer.
Update IV: Slate has the police report.