Voting the Autistic Kid Off the Island

by Karoli on May 25, 2008 · 23 comments

Since when did Kindergarten become Survivor: Florida? And since when did it become some sort of twisted democracy, where children were not only allowed, but encouraged, to speak their minds about their dislike of a classmate and then vote him out of class?

Well, in Port St. Lucie, Florida, it happened.

PORT ST. LUCIE — Melissa Barton said she is considering legal action after her son’s kindergarten teacher led his classmates to vote him out of class.

After each classmate was allowed to say what they didn’t like about Barton’s 5-year-old son, Alex, his Morningside Elementary teacher Wendy Portillo said they were going to take a vote, Barton said.

By a 14 to 2 margin, the students voted Alex — who is in the process of being diagnosed with autism — out of the class.

Here are some of the words his classmates used to describe him, before they made him walk the Kindergarten plank:

The other students said he was “disgusting” and “annoying,” Barton said.

“He was incredibly upset,” Barton said. “The only friend he has ever made in his life was forced to do this.”

I have some questions about this. Let’s start with this one:

WHY IS THIS TEACHER ALLOWED TO CONTINUE TEACHING?

Let’s see if I have this straight. A teacher allows 16 5-year olds to: a) articulate their feelings and dislikes for another child; and b) vote him out of the classroom? Look at what sparked it:

Steele said the boy had been sent to the principal’s office because of disciplinary issues. When he returned, Portillo made him go to the front of the room as a form of punishment, she said.

Oh, and being ever the compassionate pseudo-psychiatrist-cum-evil-teacher-from-hell, she did allow poor Alex a confessional after booting him off the island:

Barton said after the vote, Portillo asked Alex how he felt.

“He said, ‘I feel sad,’ ” Barton said.

Alex left the classroom and spent the rest of the day in the nurse’s office, she said.

In case you’re wondering, Alex hasn’t been back to school since then. He’s been traumatized. Here are some of the consequences of Teacher Ratchet’s little exercise in community spewing:

Alex hasn’t been back to school since then, and Barton said he won’t be returning. He starts screaming when she brings him with her to drop off his sibling at school.

Thursday night, his mother heard him saying “I’m not special” over and over.

Ya know what, Bitch-teacher-from-hell-Portillo-Ratchet-Asperger’s-hating-child-abuser? Let’s bring you up before a group of your peers so they can tell you how much you suck for treating this boy — a child who clearly has behavior and esteem problems — like a sack of shit in front of his peers at an age where he’s unlikely to forget it anytime soon.

Listen up, Portillo. My most vivid memories are of kindergarten, and being smacked across the knuckles with a ruler in front of the whole kindergarten class for daring to speak when not spoken to. My most vivid memories include being beaten up on the playground in KINDERGARTEN, for god’s sake.

My most vivid parenting memories involve being called into school to justify my son’s fight for the right to breathe when a bully put him in a chokehold in first grade, and the only way he could escape was to bite the bully, leaving him branded for the next five years as a hyperactive, at-risk troublemaker while the bully, nearly twice his size, swaggered away scot-free.

Portillo, you’re nothing more than a poorly trained excuse for an authoritarian bitch who shouldn’t be anywhere near children, much less teaching them. If the school district doesn’t see this as child abuse, they’re as ignorant as you are, because it clearly is.

Just so this isn’t anything more than a rant, let me offer some suggestions to you, Portillo. Take some classes in child development, autism and Asperger’s syndrome. Learn some creative ways to build these children up rather than tearing them down. Learn to UNDERSTAND that what you do now will MATTER to them 10 years from now, that you are forming their attitudes toward school, peers, social relationships, and authority.

What you did to this child was to say that the opinions of his peers matter more than the authority of the teacher. You taught him and all of the other children that it was okay to criticize, rather than understand, how it is to deal with a disability. You stood in front of that class and allowed 16 children to consider another child a worthless waste of effort.

Worse still, you abrogated your authority to sixteen 5-year olds.

You ought to be fired, brought up on charges of abuse, and sued for every damn dime you have.

And to the principal of that school? Screw you. Screw you for not standing up for this child when you discovered what the teacher had done. Screw you for allowing any child in your school to be treated with such a lack of respect. Screw you for not understanding how devastating this was.

And finally, to his parents, I am hoping there is a way through this that undoes this damage. Perhaps a public apology to him in front of the classroom and all of the other kindergartners and all of the other teachers would be a start. I hope you can find a way clear to help him understand that he can take something like this and overcome it.

I’m not sure, though. Because that vote — that vote is so horrible to even imagine, that I can’t imagine getting over it anytime soon, Asperger’s or otherwise.

Portillo, you’re evil.

Photo courtesy of the Barton family

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