Teacher lets Morningside students vote out classmate, 5

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Alex Barton

Photo provided by the family

Alex Barton

Alex Barton

Photo provided by the family

Alex Barton

— 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.

Melissa Barton filed a complaint with Morningside's school resource officer, who investigated the matter, Port St. Lucie Department spokeswoman Michelle Steele said. But the state attorney's office concluded the matter did not meet the criteria for emotional child abuse, so no criminal charges will be filed, Steele said.

Port St. Lucie Police no longer are investigating, but police officials are documenting the complaint, she said.

Steele said the teacher confirmed the incident took place.

Portillo could not be reached for comment Friday.

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.

Barton said her son is in the process of being diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, a type of high-functioning autism. Alex began the testing process in February at the suggestion of Morningside Principal Marcia Cully.

Children diagnosed with Asperger's often exhibit social isolation and eccentric behavior..

Alex has had disciplinary issues because of his disability, Barton said. After the family moved into the area and Alex and his sibling arrived at the school in January, Alex spent much of the time in the principal's office, she said.

He also had problems at his last school, but he did not have issues during his two years of preschool, Barton said.

School and district officials have met with Barton and her son to create an individual education plan to address his difficulties, she said. Portillo attended these meetings, Barton said.

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.

Barton said when she came to pick up her son at the school Wednesday, he was leaving the nurse's office.

"He was shaken up," she said.

Barton said the nurse told her to talk with Portillo, who told her what happened.

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.

Barton said Alex is reliving the incident.

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."

St. Lucie School's spokeswoman Janice Karst said the district is investigating the incident, but could not make any further comment.

Vern Melvin, Department of Children and Families circuit administrator, confirmed the agency is investigating an allegation of abuse at Morningside but said he could not elaborate.

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Comments » 477

sarahmarr23 writes:

Wendy Porillo should be relieved of her duties as a kindergarten teacher. Events like this make me uncertain of my daughter's attendance to public schools. Behavior like this should NOT be tolerated. Her dismissal should have been immediate, without question. Her position requires, in my opinion, that she build positive self-esteem. Her behavior is disgraceful.

leo19679#479423 writes:

Pool little guy. That teacher should be ashamed of herself.

TroubleMaker writes:

This teacher should be fired, not fit to teach any grade, and should never be near kindergarten students. I hope she does not have tenure.

MichelleW writes:

What the teacher did was sooo wrong! Young children need postive reinforcement NOT negative critism. The teacher made a 5 year old stand in front of the class while the classmates berade him. What is the teacher trying to do...does she already have him branded as a failure. Regardless of past behavior problems...its still wrong. This kid could be turned around with positive reinforcement. They already stated they were trying to work on a plan. This kid is going to no longer have any respect for his teacher and why should he..obvioulsy she doesnt respect him enough. How can she expect this kid to have any motivation in class now. He was totally embarrassed in front of the whole class. Not to mention the example she set in front of the other kids. Not to mention the mother stated he screams going near the school. It is going to take alot of time to get the child to want to go to school again. I feel the mother next year trying to get her son to go to school.

I would be pissed if my kid was one of the other classmates to. I try to teach my son to be nice and respect others and then this teacher just goes and makes the kids say not so nice things about this kid for no apparant reason. Maybe the parents of the other classmates could get together and file complaints too. Something has got to be done.

I seriously hope the teacher is displined. I can't believe the school didn't do anything but document her complaint. My butt would be down there at the school superintentant office demanding answers.

SilverFox6958 writes:

IF this teacher did this she needs to be fired and lose her license. This should be a federal case under IDEA and/or Section 504

ladycaroline1965#239605 writes:

The teacher needs to be fired and she needs to have her teaching certificate REVOKED. The parents need to file a formal complaint with the SLCSB, The State Dept of Education as well as the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. The DBPR has the authority to revoke a teaching certificate, by a hearing from an adminstrative judge as a teaching certificate is considered property in the state of Florida (and a certificate in Fla is also good in Alabama and Georgia so this is why it is important that abusive teachers have their certificates revoked...so they can't move around and abuse more kids.)

This child will be scarred for life, he will remember this always and the damage caused by this woman cannot be undone. The school system will not act on the benefit of the child unless they are made to ... which I know first hand.

I recommend the parent get a really good civil rights lawyer who specialcatizes in special education law and the childs rights under the 504, Children's With Disabilies Act and No Child Left Behind.

This is an outrage. Do not let the school system sweep this under the rug. The teacher is a bully and obviously after having been involved in IEP meetings knows there is a disability involved yet has created an atmosphere in her class where the 'pack' gets to turn on its own. Wonder how many other kids in that class have had to deal with the same thing. This sort of lack of judgement doesn't just happen once.

It is outragious to do this to ANY child, but to deliberately do it to a child that she knows already has the deck stacked against him is immoral and iillegal. She has committed a federal crime.

This website www.wrightslaw.com is a great place to search and get educated on disability law.

rftplus writes:

The teacher's email address can be found using the following link. Perhaps we should let her know how we feel!

http://www.stlucie.k12.fl.us/mse/staf...

Ms. Wendy Portillo
portillow@stlucie.k12.fl.us

Extreme_Pacifist writes:

Where do you think this teacher got the idea... maybe from one of those very popular reality T.V. shows like Survivor, Dancing with the Stars, or american Idol that so many adults love to watch. This is a microcosm of modern american culture. The next generation will be a society of dumb-downed, over-entertained consumer zombies.
As the late Kurt Cobain of Nirvana spoke of the american pop culture: I feel stupid, and contagious, here we are now, entertain us.

Nirvana - smells like teen spirit
http://youtube.com/watch?v=kPQR-OsH0RQ

Or from "All apologies", he said about the american sheeple:
"I wish I was like you, easily amused"
Nirvana - All Apologies:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=2oAF3UdSJ1k

And here's one for the Westboro crew:

Nirvana : Lake of Fire
http://youtube.com/watch?v=7oVvkNp4Gd...

hueychop#469969 writes:

Post jifad, no matter how you look at it that teacher was way out of line...you just dont do thiings like that to children...it could effect their self esteem and self worth for years to come.

If the child has not been given an IEP by the ESE Dept., then that needs to take place first. If I was the parent, I would be calling the Office of Civil Rights and a good Attorney.

The Teacher is the responsible adult, and responsible to administer discipline in the classroom, NOT THE OTHER STUDENTS !!!

Think about it, if this took place in High School and you had the Students say to the a student what they said to Alex...use your imagination what could of happened!!!

Grrumpy1 writes:

If my child had been in a classroom and had been asked to judge another child like that, no matter what age, my child would not have been allowed to return to that school until the matter was resolved. The fact that it was a 5 yr old just makes it all the worse. A 5 yr old is barely able to judge their own actions than to have to judge another child's actions. If this was a verbal "voting", what did the teacher expect all the other 5 yr old students to say after hearing the first negative things said about this child. Kids are going to repeat what other kids say and agree with them, especially at that age. My oldest son was eventually diagnosed with a learning disorder in 2nd grade after being tested for ADD. He was diagnosed with short term memory. He was mainstreamed in some classes and went to special classes for others all the way through high school. Not once was he ever ridiculed or treated indifferently by any of his teachers or classmates. His major fear in school was being embarrassed leaving his mainstream class and going to a special learining class. He overcame that by everyone supporting his feelings, including his teachers and classmates. He was sometimes in Special Education classes that also had children that had behavorial problems because of certain learning disorders that would have to be removed from classes, even in high school. The term Special Education is such a scary term to some parents. Some people regard it as the retarded classes, that is so far from the truth. Special Education is exactly what it says it to be...Special Education...meaning some students need a different kind of teaching than other students. It doesn't mean they are stupid, ignorant, nasty, disgusting or annoying. I'm behind Ms. Barton 100%. What happened to her son was totally uncalled for. Keep up with any and all IEP meetings...BE THERE. I missed very few IEP meetings in my son's public school years and if I had to miss a meeting for ANY reason I made sure I called and spoke to to his counselor before the meeting took place.

Jupiter writes:

Ms. Portillo you should be ashamed of yourself. The real atrocity behind this is that if young Alex was black Ms. Portillo would already be looking for a new career. That in itself is a true, but sad statement about our society.

mypov writes:

I have seen ADD mention a few times here. I am probably going to offend a lot of people by saying this; but it seems to me this "disease" is being used in many cases as a copout diagnosis. It allows parents, teachers,school systems and communities to avoid taking the blame for a poor education system that teaches children to pass tests instead of truly challenging them.

waamoo79 writes:

I can't believe all the comments posted before are gone, there was over 130 comments last time I checked on this story. I'm happy that there doesn't seem to be as many ignorant,stupid people talking about what a great service this teacher did for education, but there were a lot of good things. I had never previously heard of Asperger(?) syndrome, but there was a link added on one of the comments that explained it, and especially after reading what it is, it made what this teacher did even worse. I'll say again what I said earlier; kids will always be bullied or made fun of for being too fat, too skinny, wearing different clothes, blah blah blah, it is the adult's job to try to teach these kids tolerance and empathy. EVERY kid, no matter how "normal" will at some point in their childhood rely on an adult to get involved in a situation to protect them for another kid, or unfortunately, another adult. This teacher's job was to be that responsible adult;the adult that child depended on to protect him, and she was the ringleader in the bullying. SCREW the school board and the special education programs and the principal etc. etc., what makes all of this all the more disgusting is the SOCIAL problems this kid ALREADY had before this trauma. This would have been terrible to happen to a child without problems. I have a 6 month old daughter, and it is stories like this that scare me for her educational future.

waamoo79 writes:

jjfad, I have restrained myself from making any comments on your posts, but it is ridiculous for you to compare yourself to this kid. There is a huge difference between disciplinary issues like you had, and an illness that they were trying to figure out how to deal with. What should they have done to this kid? Did you click on the link that describes Asperger? Can you guess what "behavioral problems" he might have been displaying? I agree that there seems to be a large issue with saint lucie county schools and funding and etc., but what this teacher did has nothing to do with that.

Grrumpy1 writes:

mypov, you don't offend me. Many people feel that way...but I'm not one of them. No one likes the sound of ADD/ADHD and they also associate it with Ritalin and other drugs. There is a certain criteria that has to be met to be considered ADD or ADHD. I placed my son in a local church preschool when he was 3 yrs old...He is now 25. As he got older, the school also evolved into a kindergarten and then added 1st grade and now goes up to 12th grade. As he progressed from preschool to 1st grade, his teachers and I noticed a decline in his grades and in his abilities to comprehend the simplist of actions, as in reading comprehension, memory, ect. We thought maybe it was just the learning program they used...Becca was getting to hard for him. His 1st grade teacher took exceptional notice of this as she had been trained what to look for in ADD and ADHD. She came to us and expressed her feelings after reassuring us that he was a good student but getting irritable in class. She suggested having his ears and eyes tested, which we did and everything was fine. She moved him from front to back, back to front of the class. She also noticed he was very artistic and a very hands on student. She suggested we have him tested for ADD which we did. We had to enroll him into a public school at that time just to have him tested because this private school did not do testing. In fact, they had to release him and ok it for him to be tested...which they did and we were so thankful for that. He did not fit all the criteria of ADD/ADHD, but by having him tested for ADD/ADHD, and further testing after that we found out what his learning disorders were. ADD/ADHD is not an excuse. To this day, I thank this teacher (who was an ex-public school teacher...gone private school) for her concern that my son had possible ADD (not ADHD). She never ridiculed him in anyway for his inabilities and always made him feel special for the good things he did. ADD/ADHD is very real and not an excuse for anything. Thank you Mrs.G!

Grrumpy1 writes:

Also, FYI for anyone who doesn't know how the testing process goes...it is not a one time test type thing...it can be a series of tests over a long period of time, so it can be a substantial period of time before any final diagnosis is reached. Hang in there Ms. Barton!

Robert_Martin writes:

Okay, this is clearly terrible and should have never happened, but the blame seems to be something that should be entirely on this teacher, not the other school officials. It seems that the principal was the one who believed that this boy might need to be tested and made sure it happened. As soon as it came to light, the county district people stepped in, even though the police couldn't do anything, and now DCF is involved. Suing the school district? Come on people, do we really need to sue for everything? I agree that this is a terrible thing that happened to this kid, but if anyone gets sued, it should be that teacher. I can't imagine that the school officials did anything to condone this terrible type of behavior.

gtbrvb#456965 (Inactive) writes:

Why did he spend the rest of the day in the nurse's office - why wasn't the Mother called?? When I had kids in school they always called if they were in the nurse's office for any extended period of time so that I could pick them up if I chose. If the nurse knew what went on and why he was there why did she not take any action? Something is not right!! Kids are mean enought to each other we don't need adults making it worse.

otp54 writes:

We have become a nation of guilty parents who raise overprotected children who grow up into neurotic teens.

Kids rule the classroom. Teachers are the victims.

fight4kids writes:

Just to clarify, the correct way to address the Superintendent is MR. Lannon. You would think that the position would require the title "Dr." , but it is a common mistake assumed by many.

davebedford1#440721 writes:

ya know whats funny is that there have been alot of incidents just this year involving bad decisions made by teachers and all they do every year is complain about how little money they make...I wonder why

otp54 writes:

onestep, this "incompetent moron" as you say has been caught up with that "Survivor TV Show" mentality.

Instead of her sending the kid out for disruptive behavior, she turned that decision over to the other students. Yes, it was a dumb thing to do.

Thirty years ago, teachers ran their classes with iron fists. Don't you remember the days when they smacked us with a ruler to keep us in line? Did the majority of us turn into pitiful saplings? Don't think so.

My point earlier was this: As a nation, we coddle our kids too much. Some of these kids turn into teenagers with a big chip on their shoulders.

It explains how teachers walk on egg shells nowadays!

BellowFellow writes:

Hell, otp54...how can you expect any of these non-teacher types to understand the challenges of managing a classroom full of hyperactive, disrespectful kids?

Send them to Westwood! Most of them wouldn't last one hour with those teens!

You are right, kids and their parents rule the classrooms. This teacher is doomed...and so is any other teacher who looks, says, or does anything to upset lil Johnny's feelings.

ddd1946 writes:

AFTER READING THE ARTICLE ABOUT ALEX BARTON AND THE WAY HE WAS TREATED IN SCHOOL I MUST SAY I AM GLAD I DON'T HAVE ANY STUDENTS UNDER THIS WOMAN'S SUPERVISION. SHE KNEW OF ALEX'S CONDITION FROM MEETINGS SHE ATTENDED AND HER CONDUCT IN THIS SITUATION IS INEXCUSABLE. AS PARENTS WE SPEND A LOT OF TIME TEACHING OUR CHILDREN THAT PREJUDICE IS WRONG AND HERE WE HAVE A SUPPOSED EDUCATOR TEACHING EXTEREMLY IMPRESSIONAL YOUNG MINDS THAT PREJUDICE IS GOOD, BOY WHAT A WORLD WE LIVE IN TODAY. I AM NOT ONE TO ADVOCATE SOMEONE SHOULD LOSE THEIR JOB BUT IN THIS CASE MS. PORTILLO SHOULD BE SHOWN THE DOOR, LITERALLY. SHE DOES NOT BELONG IN TEACHING WITH SUCH A LACK OF COMPASSION AND UNDERSTANDING.

angel1954 writes:

Sounds to me like the school district and the parents set the teacher up for failure. If this student is a constant disruption to the the class, why is it that the child was not put into a special learning classes? I know of a few Autistic children and they are not in the mainstream classes.
Shouldn't the parents have demanded the school system to act on the best interest of their child prior to this incident, and not disrupt the 17 other children from learning?
This is not a comment for or against the teacher, as I do not know the teachers ability to teach. It sure sounds like she will lose her job over this situation and the parents will cash in and rob the tax payer of their money. Note to the parents, get your child proper help through Doctors and not the school system. Take responsibility for your child.

hotmomma writes:

I don't think the teacher was completely wrong. How fair is it that the other children have to have their learning expeirence disrupted b/c a student cannot behave. This so called "autusim" or ADD ADHD is an excuse for parents b/c they don't know how to raise a child or disipline them the right way. Stop suger coating them. Stop blaming the teacher. BLAME THE PARENTS. The teacher has a JOB: it is to give children an education. The teachers job should not be disiplining a child every 5 minutes b/c he or she doesn't know how to act in a classroom.

mulli3292#226017 writes:

As a mother of a 5 yr old on the autism spectrum I am very unhappy with the services available for children in St Lucie county,(Not the teachers) I am hoping stories like this will motivate the school board to have better programs in place for children who need special services. It just goes to show how under qualified this teacher was to resort to class humiliation to try and stop his undesired behaviors, She really crossed the line and should not be teaching children period, For teachers who are at a loss and need help with dealing with a child who are on the autism spectrum should seek out contacting FAU Card Center in PSL. They are a wonderful resource and will come in to the class to help teachers learn strategies on dealing with children with Autism related disabilities . They are there for family support as well and parents or anyone who needs help. One more thing.. Its not hard to figure out that a child with a disability may have a harder time adjusting to his new surroundings after moving at the very least the teacher should have know that. Shame on her.

intothis#209435 writes:

"Her dismissal should have been immediate, without question. Her position requires, in my opinion, that she build positive self-esteem. Her behavior is disgraceful." (sarahmarr23)

Well said! I keep re-reading this article, trying to see where this teacher's actions make sense. I just can't find it.

Mrs Barton, I hope you do seek further action against this 'teacher' and those who decided this was an acceptable way to treat a child. Unbelievable.

BellowFellow writes:

Geeze, why would anybody want to be a teacher?

One teacher was fired for SMACKING a kid that threw a deck of cards at him. Another is being investigated for ALLEGEDLY brushing up on a student. Then this poor sap who supposedly ABUSED a kindergartener by having the classmates vote on his behavior.

Don't forget that teachers must bring those FCAT and BENCHMARK scores up or else! And remember to duck when you see a student pull out that gun!

They have to break up fights one minute, then teach reading skills the next! And SMILE when you hear the ire of that angry parent during a conference. It all stinks!

someoneelse80 writes:

hoobachick817,
Apparently, you are unaware of Asperger's syndrome
or the autism spectrum. Upon learning that your thoughts are incorrect, you would be wise to retract your ill advised words and apologize to the mom of this child.

MichaelGoodfellow writes:

hoobachick,
You're trivializing autism? Wow. How compassionate of you.

Yes, the teacher has a job. Write this down...Their job is NOT to create a 'Survivor' type atmosphere where it becomes more of a popularity contest than anything else.

Here's a newsflash for you...A teacher has the ability to have a student removed from a classroom by going through appropriate channels, as opposed to humiliation.

otp54 writes:

Ms. Cirillo, if you want to stay in education...go look for a teaching job in another country like Japan, China, India, Sweden, or Norway. These places are known for their high academic achieving students.

Teachers are highly respected there and are revered for being strict!

You would not be attacked in those countries, as you are obviously being in this one.

doodlebug8698 writes:

As a parent of a child in the Autism Spectrum, this article really disturbs me.

My son who is 8 years old was diagnosed with PDD (Pervasive Developmental Disorder)at the age of 4. Asperger's, and PDD are on the Autism Spectrum. Along with that he was also diagnosed with OCD, ADHD, and now I am realizing he also has Echolalia. He went through speech and occupational therapy and started a prek class when he was 3.
Thank god for the help that I have gotten him and the services that are available I don't think he would be nearly as advanced as he would of been without it. Today he is a thriving almost 3rd grader. He can write and read and so much more. He still needs help with comprehending what he reads, but he has been in a regular classroom since 1st grade with only Language therapy and extra reading classes to help him. The teachers he has had have been wonderful with him. He still has his moments of his behavior, but he has excelled sooo much and I am proud to be his mommy.

To the family of this precious little boy, he is beautiful and don't give up! Things will get better. I am so sorry this has happened to you and to him. No child should have to feel that way.

To this teacher... You should be ashamed of yourself.

cambabe1#391588 writes:

Oh,man.This is sooooooo sick.My heart goes out to this child and his family.

BeyondBelief writes:

More than likely this incident will be brushed under the rug, with no disciplinarian action towards the teacher.

steph1221#216343 writes:

this just shows how disrespectful and how these kids today think they dont have any consequences for their actions. im assuming this teacher is in her early 20's. and im not saying all the kids but there are alot out there who dont have morals or values. to do that to a child i dont care how disruptive he is. you let the principle and the parents know so they can look into another place for his education. or not. but how do you allow a group of 5 year olds decide. if my kids were in that class i wouldnt be to happy i taught my kids to never tease, judge and make fun of someone how would they feel if it was them. even the teacher what if the other teachers did that to her. how would she feel. its just not right.

geeminy writes:

a lot of good points and some a little shorthsighted, but it seems most can agree the public school system can be little more than a 'cattle processing' industry at times

head counts in class mean more money, teaching/learning has steadily become a secondary reason for P.S.

this case shows not only poor administration/leadership (the buck stops here), but abuse by this teacher

a five year old was being a five year old, and apparently so was the teacher

recently a vero teacher who physically struck by a student was fired for his retaliatory actions

portillo, a quasi-teacher attempted to crush a 5 year old for behaving like a 5 year old, doing it with shame and ostracism

she should carry that shame and ostracism for her cruel treatment of not just Alex, but the rest of the class

she has taught them to abuse authority and to gang up on the lone/weak to 'demand compliance' and probably to show Alex that 'she's the boss'

inexcusable to treat a child this way, sounds like her indoctrination from the university of hades is serving her well

Mr_Two_Cents writes:

I'm voting the teacher "OUT"

geeminy writes:

edit above to say "...a teacher who WAS physically struck by a student..."

TMALLORY writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

nurseperson23#451933 writes:

This teacher needs to become involved in the responsibility project. It is a program to teach you how to raise responsible and caring children. Anyone who calls themselves a teacher and then demonstrates this type of behavior is not worthy to call themselves a teacher. She needs a psych eval if she thinks this is appropriate to do to a child. I personally think she needs to go bait hooks and serve sandwiches. I truly hope the school board takes some action on this one and this teacher is reprimanded and placed on leave (unpaid) until she gets some psych help.

JOHNCONNAUGHTON writes:

Sorry people, this child is obviously a special needs child. It is not the teachers fault nor the childs fault. It is the parents fault for not getting their child into the right school program. The parents and schools have both known there was a problem for a while. But, it is the parents responsibility to get their child into a program that can help him. You can not expect for 1 second to see a autistic child thriving in school unless he or she is in a school equipped to handle this childs daily needs.

angel1954 writes:

Why was the childs picture and name printed in the paper? Great going MOM and DAD now as the child is in the stores with you, people will point and stare and say...Hey, isnt that the child that was ousted by his classmates. Humiliating him all over again.

Your actions are no better then the teachers....Shame on you!

geeminy writes:

now now iwantsumtoo, did i read your post right

sounds like you have a dog in this fight, dating the teach, or maybe hoping to get one

she showed the other 15 kids that tyrany, manipulation and mob rules, she simply told one 5 year old he's just not wanted here so get the %$#$ out

that sounds more like iwant's argument, apparently that's teaching 'soshul skilz'

geeminy writes:

the real focus should go to the two kids who voted for alex to stay

those two should get some kind of recognition for being so perceptive at such a young age

even this manipulative twit of a teacher couldn't fool these two five year olds with her scam of catering to human pride and superiority

give those two a hand, that should be the followup story

janmurri56#241560 writes:

Whatever the actions of this child, he didn't desesrve to be ridiculed in front of the class. This should NOT have involved the other students. It sounds as if this child has some major problems which need to be addressed but NOT by his peers. There are tests that can be done to determine what problems he has but they take several weeks (if not months) to be completed. Take her out of the classroom before another student can be scarred by her actions!

Lowry writes:

This is so sad. What is wrong with this teacher??

Hey, SLC school district, we need more services for Auti/Aspi students.

With the arrival of the bio-techs, and scientists and their children, the need will only become greater! Just look at Silicone Valley and the upsurge in Auti/Aspi students in that area. Once those folks take a look at the local schools, no wonder they are choosing to live in Indian River, Martin or Palm Beach County. The head of Torrey Pines will live in IR.

brandymancini writes:

OMG! If this isn't racist... Why has no one addressed this issue??? I saw only 1 post saying, if this was a black child the teacher would have been fired instantly. Whats the matter with the white community, we need a spoksmen for the whites, like Sharpton or Jackson. Where are the white rights? Oh well, this too will be swept under the peverbal carpet also.
Alex's mom. good luck you will need it with this school system.

itsallaboutme writes:

Let me start by saying I have a son on the 'spectrum' as Autism is usually identified. While people with this neurological disorder have been around for decades, recognition of the symptoms and therapies have only recently become known. It is very very difficult to diagnose Asperger's Syndrome in particular because it affects each person somewhat differently. My son was diagnosed with ADHD originally which is a common problem. Most pediatricians and school personnel were unaware of what to look for. Literally, only 10 years ago, the Journal of American Medicine published the first article describing the symptoms of Asperger's. I know it seems like an explosion suddenly of children and adults have popped up - like it's the new "disease of the moment". It's not another excuse for childrens bad behavior; it's a misunderstood issue and my son and I have had to deal with many many people who are critical of his behavior and my parenting skills. Most schools are now playing catch up in trying to provide accomadations for kids on the spectrum. Unfortunately, in this country, public schools are mostly about conformity - either fit in or get out. School districts don't have the time or money to help kids feel confident.

Parents have to be their childs advocate and it is not always easy. Parents must insist that their child be accomodated, they must go to the IEP meetings, stay in constant communication with the school and the teachers, risk being considered an annoying parent. I know because I have been through this family's struggles and it is exhausting. My son got a rather late diagnosis - he was 12 - and by then had been the victim of mean, bullying children who took pleasure from teasing and ostrasizing. He would cry almost everyday after school in the car ride home. It's heartbreaking.

Be incredibly thankful if your children are so-called 'normal' and please teach them tolerance and consideration of their friends and fellow classmates.

ljstarkweather writes:

I am a mother of an autistic spectrum child who is also 5 yrs old. He is hindered in his daily life by many obstacles. One of which is called SID (Sensory Integration Dysfunction). This means that his brain is out of Sync with his body. This in turn has many side affects, such as: Language Delay, Speech Delay, OCD, Social and Behavior Dysfunction, just to name a FEW. None of these this have to be profound in order for them to severely affect the way a child relates to/or does not relate to the world around them. All teachers are taught the signs and symptoms of these problems, especially if they are going to be teaching primary grades. There is no excuse for this teacher, who has been entrusted with the job of teaching these very impressionable young soles, to intentionally single out a 5yr old boy, persecute him in front of the class and then encourage other 5yr olds to do the same. So, not only has she scared this little boy, but she has also taught the other children to do the same.

Worse still, little Alex has only been in this world for 5yrs. Mrs. Wendy Portillo has been here around 49 yrs. You would think that someone with so much life experience would have more self-control than a 5yr old that has trouble negotiating the world due to circumstances not in his control!

*Autism is the sixth most commonly classified special education disability in the U.S. Even so the number of children given the “Autism” classification is exceptionally low compared to the number of children known to be diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorders).

This means that there is no reason that the teacher (Wendy Portillo) or the other educators in that school, to not know or have experienced a child like Alex before, and to not know what to do to handle the situation.

*Please refer to the book by: Wendy L. Stone, Ph.D. “Does My Child Have Autism” Page 113, Box entitled, By the numbers.

My heart goes out to little Alex and his family.

Benjamin and I have you in our prayers.

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