Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Kindergarten ASD Student "Voted Out" of class By Peers

St. Lucie teacher reassigned after student 'voted out' of class
By Colleen Wixon

Originally published 10:12 a.m., May 27, 2008
Updated 06:30 p.m., May 27, 2008

PORT ST. LUCIE — Morningside Elementary kindergarten teacher Wendy Portillo has been reassigned until further action may be determined, according to St. Lucie County School District spokeswoman Janice Karst.

Last week, Portillo held a vote in her classroom in which kindergarten students "voted out" 5-year-old Alex Barton, who was in the process of being tested for Asperger's Disorder, a type of high-functioning autism. Alex's mother, Melissa Barton, said the vote was taken after classmates were allowed to tell Alex what they didn't like about him.

The class voted Alex out of the room, by a 14 to 2 margin.

Portillo was reassigned out of the classroom at the district offices on Friday, as soon as Schools Superintendent Michael Lannon heard about the incident, Karst said. She said it could be up to two weeks before the district's investigation on the matter is concluded.

Portillo has been a St. Lucie County teacher for 12 years, and at Morningside Elementary for nine, Karst said.

Barton said Tuesday morning that Alex had officially been diagnosed with an autism-spectrum disorder and attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. He is not in school, but misses the one friend he made in the classroom, she said.

"He's a little better today," she said. "He's just being Alex."

Barton said she thinks Portillo should be fired.

"She has no business being near children at all," she said.

As to the news of Portillo being reassigned, Barton responded, "That's just a slap in the face."

© 2008 Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers

I am beyond disgusted by the ignorance of this school district and teachers. I hope this case can be used as an example of how we need to EDUCATE THE EDUCATORS. Autism Vox has one of the more popular blogs about this issue.


Jenn said...

My thoughts exactly. I really feel for Alex. I can't imagine what harm this incident has done to his self esteem.

My youngest brother (labeled LD in primary school) struggled with esteem issues throughout school. He struggled to learn to read, reading comprehension, and penmanship. About 15 years ago, when he was in the 2nd grade his teacher took his homework assignment and crumpled it up into a ball in front of the entire classroom. He came home sobbing. He was humiliated in front of the class after putting in several hours into that homework assignment the night before. HOURS...in 2nd grade no less. Needless to say, my mother was furious and had a come to Jesus meeting with the principal and teacher the next day about how we ought to be building these hard working kids up, not tearing them down - in front of the entire class no less. Sheesh. Times obviously haven't changed.

~Miss Nelson said...

This is horrible! I can't believe how cruel some people are to children.

Ashley loves Leo said...

Wow Jenn, that's quite an experience your brother had. Good thing he had a great mom to advocate for him. Hi Miss Nelson, pretty incredible that cruelty by a TEACHER exists in 2008.