A Florida kindergarten teacher prompted her students to vote out a fellow student who suffers from Asperger's Syndrome. Alex Barton, as all rational human beings would expect of a 5-year old, particularly one coping with an autism-spectrum disorder, is traumatized:
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."
Of course, there is always another side of the story. The horrors for which the teacher though it licit to traumatize a sensitive boy? Fighting? Stabbing with scissors? Bullying? No:
“I asked (Alex) what the students said, and he said the students said he eats paper, picks boogers and eats them on top of the table and bites his shoelaces,” the report said. “He told me Mrs. Portillo said, ‘I hate you right now. I don’t like you today.’”
Alex was made to endure a scarring humiliation for being goofy and a little gross. Talk about disproportionality.
I couldn't care less for the teacher's rationalizations - that Alex had to be made to understand "how his behaviour made the other children feel" (the treacly language of therapeutics, as is often the case, here invoked to justify cruelty), and that the vote was only intended to keep him out of class for one day. While a child with an autism-spectrum disorder may not be suited to the routines of a standard kindergarten classroom, this form of discipline - hazing, really - is utterly inappropriate; I can attest from personal experience that the callousnesses of teachers inflicted at that age leave enduring marks on the psyche. Somehow, moreover, given a legal system in which, rightly or wrongly, education is posited as a right, I don't believe the democratization of this decision would fly. In a just world, ie., one in which teachers' unions were somewhat less powerful than they are in this one, the teacher would lose her job. Were I Alex's father, I'd have to settle for slapping her with a civil suit and hoping that it proved financially and socially ruinous.