Autistic boy records teachers’ insults

Ten-year-old Akian Chafetz, who is autistic, was bullied at school — by his teacher and aide in a class for autistic children, charges a New Jersey father. Stuart Chaifetz sent his son to school with a recorder in his pocket.

A teacher or aide can be heard saying angrily, “Who are you talking to? Nobody. Knock it off.” Akian is also told several times to shut his mouth.

After being scolded several times, Akian begins to cry and the administrator said, “Go ahead and scream because guess what? You’re going to get nothing until your mouth is shut.”

At another point, the teacher or aide calls Akian a “bastard” when he will not stop crying.

Chaifetz posted the recording on a Facebook site, No More Teacher Bullies, and took it to the district office. The aide was fired, he says, but the teacher, who has tenure, was transferred to another school.

However, Cherry Hill Superintendent Maureen Reusche said in a statement that “the individuals who are heard on the recording raising their voices and inappropriately addressing children no longer work in the district and have not since shortly after we received the copy of the recording.”

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Chaifetz isn’t the first parent to send a disabled child to school with a recording device, notes ABC. “In March, two Alabama teachers were put on administrative leave after the mother of 10-year-old Jose Salinas, who has cerebral palsy, attached an audio recorder to the bottom of his wheelchair and caught them scolding him about drooling, among other things.”

I predict many more parents will try this if they think their child isn’t able to tell them what goes on at school.

Ed Week‘s Nirvi Shah cites other cases and also thinks we’ll see more covert recording.

Update: The Cherry Hill special education teacher says she was at a meeting when the aides yelled at Akian and heard no abuse of the boy. The father says he’s got several more hours of tape that implicates the teacher.

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  1. Richard Aubrey says:

    “…isn’t able to tell….”?
    How about…make it impossible for the ‘crats to pretend not to know.

  2. Stacy in NJ says:

    Another reason to trust public education .

    • Stacy,
      Just because a teacher, aide, and administrator at one school were mistreating an autistic child, it doesn’t mean that every single teacher, aide, and administrator in public schools mistreats autistic children.

      At the same time, it also doesn’t mean that cases of mistreatment do not occur within private education. Your statement was offensively careless.

      Now, if instead, you had said, “This is an example of how some teachers can abuse their tenure,” I would agree with you.

      • Teachers being protected by tenure in public schools despite abuse of students is a significant enough pattern that it should erode trust in the public school system. It can also be reasonably linked to policies of the majority of public school system, such as tenure, that are often not present in other forms of schooling.

        Note that this is *not* the same as saying all public school teachers engage in such behavior. Of the 30+ I had in school, only one was abusive towards students. Nothing physical, but verbally abusive to the point of driving targeted students to tears on a regular basis.

        Point is, good people can work in a system that condones bad behavior. Moreover, it doesn’t in any way diminish the virtue of those good people to point out that the system condones bad behavior.

        Imagine, for a moment, that Stacy had instead commented on how the Catholic Church shuffled abusive priests around by saying “Another reason to trust Catholic Church”. Would you immediately have jumped to the conclusion that she was denigrating every Catholic priest, or would you have read it as condemnation of the Church and its conduct as an organization?

        • This is reasoned and thoughtful, but, I think, insufficient. As long as there is tenure, I don’t see how we can trust public education. Setting teachers up as a protected class is just a bad idea.

          Read _The Moral Sense_ by James Q Wilson or _The Science Behind Good and Evil_ by Michael Shermer: two reasons that people typically get caught up in bad behavior are that they think no one is looking or they think their actions will have no consequences. Any protection of teachers from their bad actions will undoubtably lead to more bad actions – it’s human nature and would be the same if it were dockworkers or doctors who were the protected class.

          • Michael E. Lopez says:

            We don’t need to get rid of tenure.

            What do people think about the idea of video cameras in every single public school classroom?

            I can’t say I’m entirely against it. I know if I were to teach in a public high school, I’d want my classroom wired 24/7, both as a self-assessment tool and a check against spurious complaints.

      • So what’s your point, Autif? That the sort of viciousness displayed by the employees on the tape is, or ought to be, irrelevant to a judgment of the organization/institution that does the employing?

        Aw, I’m just yanking your chain.

        I know what you’re implying is that the public education system is inherently good and thus anything bad that happens within the public is either an irrelevant exception or someone else’s fault. No matter how often it happens or how long it goes on.

        • Stacy in NJ says:

          FYI, The teacher you hear in the tape was NOT fired; she was placed in a SE classroom in the same district at the high school. The aid you hear in the background was fired. The superintendent lied to the public. It’s a huge deal here in Jersey.

          • Stacy in NJ says:

            And, the individual you hear most clearly and loudly is the teacher, not the aid.

          • All it took for me was reading “the individuals who are heard on the recording raising their voices and inappropriately addressing children” in the superintendent’s statement to know full well the teacher wasn’t fired for this.

            The brazenness of this lie amazes me. It’s just such a clumsy and obvious deception.

      • What should be of concern here is the fact that it is a bunch of inappropriate stuff all happening on the same day. It clearly shows that something is wrong with the school culture. What is interesting to me is that parents in this district and in other wealthy areas in New Jersey are working hard to try and defeat Charter Schools, The reason they give is that their schools are high performing so no need for charter schools. Clearly this tape shows that there is something wrong at this school and while it may have high test scores it is rotting from the core.

      • Just because these did and others might not, doesnt mean others are not doing the same thing im having similar issues right now my oldest son is reporting to me that he hears his younger brother crying all day long and teachers are denying it – I think all these classroom and hallways need to be mandated recorded BOTTOM LINE – Video and audio – they require it in daycares receiving federal funds they need to require it in schools also – it will keep EVERYONES kid safe AND the teachers in MANY situations

  3. MagisterGreen says:

    Tar. Feathers. Some assembly required.

  4. Isn’t this the same area of New Jersey where entitled Suburban Parents are trying to stop school choice? I believe that they do not want Charter Schools to compete with their “high preforming schools” nice.

  5. everybody needs a voice. good job to the father.

  6. It is sad to see another example of how the weakest among us – those who cannot defend themselves – are preyed upon. Even sadder is a system that tolerates it, i.e. keeps a teacher on staff – in any capacity – when such abusive behavior comes to light.

  7. Kirk Parker says:

    The father (and student, I guess) are lucky that NJ is a one-party notification state for audio recording. Or maybe he actually knew this?