Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

Motivational Speaker

Boy Voted Out of Kindergarten Because of Disability

Filed under: Advocacy, Living with a disability — by Glenda at 11:14 pm on Thursday, May 29, 2008

Alex Barton, a 5-year-old boy with blond hair and a big smile

Five-year-old Alex Barton was told to stand in front in his Kindergarten class while, one by one, his classmates said what they didn’t like about him – responding with such words as “annoying” and “frustrating”. Then, in a vote of 14 to 2, Alex was voted out of Kindergarten.

When his teacher Wendy Portillo, who implemented this punishment, asked Alex how he felt about what had occurred, he responded, “I’m sad.”

His crime: his “unusual behaviour” most likely caused by Asperger’s Syndrome, for which he is in the process of being diagnosed currently. Asperger’s Syndrome is often considered to be a type of “high functioning” autism, characterized by impaired social interaction and understanding, and restricted and repetitive activities and interests; learning and cognition are not usually delayed.

I was outraged when reading this story on Disaboom. How can an adult put a child through such hurtful humiliation?

The Florida State Attorney’s office concluded the matter did not meet criteria for emotional child abuse. No charges will be filed against the teacher.

Not emotional abuse?

Forcing a child to endure a verbal lynching is abusive, is emotionally and psychologically damaging!

A Thinking in Metaphors blog post details the teacher’s violations. Yet no charges have been laid?

Had Alex been an ethnic minority, there would have been protesting and rioting in the streets! But, because Alex has a disability, such conduct is okay? I think not! This is 2008, for pete’s sake! Society cannot turn away from such barbaric and cruel conduct, particularly from authority figures, any longer. This teacher needs to be held accountable for her actions and for the psychological pain and damaged she has caused.

Imagine how Alex feels about himself after being publicly humiliated by his peers. And, what about the other youngsters? How do they feel about tearing down a classmate? What has this taught them about accepting differences and bullying? Do they know the incident was wrong?

The children (and unenlightened adults) need appropriate education and guidance on accepting, valuing and embracing differences.

How can this adorable boy be anything but loved and cherished?

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a chai tea latte. Thanks kindly.

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8 Comments »

Comment by Pamela

May 30, 2008 @ 10:42 pm

Ohmygosh! That angers me more than I can even put into words. How can that teacher not be held accountable for what she put that poor child through?

I’m afraid if that had been my child I’d have been on the 11′o’clock news—and not in a good way. My heart aches for that little boy.

Comment by Lori-ann Engel

May 31, 2008 @ 12:48 pm

I agree…this is unspeakable. It points to exactly what is wrong with “reality” tv programs. They desensitize us to the reality that abusive, obnoxious, be-rating, be-littling treatment of others is unacceptable on any level!

I’m sure it was done “all in fun” but I do know from personal experience that kids with Asperger’s take things very literally and hold onto the negative in a way that is extremely detrimental to their interactions with others.

I have read that the boy has received his diagnosis and the teacher has been removed of her classroom duties.

Very poor judgement on the part of teacher in this case and proof once again that the educational system lets these kids down when they are not in an educational environment with people that have understanding and a high level of education and experience in order to teach these children in a loving, accepting, encompassing style.

I will leave my soapbox behind for the next person:) I have many!

Comment by Lightening

June 2, 2008 @ 3:14 pm

That is just AWFUL!!! I can’t believe nothing is being done about it!!! The poor kid. Makes me want to cry just thinking about it. :(

Comment by Glenda

June 3, 2008 @ 11:21 am

What I don’t understand is the teacher apparently knew Alex was in the process of being diagnosed and was on his IEP (Individualized Education Program) team. To me, that would have been a great opportunity to start teaching about all kinds of differences – without singling out anyone – and how to accept and embrace differences. Have a series of guests from various cultures and with various disabilities, including autism to explain it in simple terms so young kids can understand, and to give some practical tips.

Perhaps the teacher didn’t receive the information and support from the principal etc. But, that is still no reason to do what she did to Alex. Poor little guy. I wish I could give him a big hug and tell he is perfect the way he is.

Comment by JOE

June 9, 2008 @ 1:45 pm

I MYSELF AM AUTISTIC, AND EVEN AT 13 I TEND TO BE A LITTLE ANNOYING. BUT A 5 YEAR OLD, HUMILIATED AND VOTED OUT OF HIS CLASS MAKES ME SICK. EVEN IF IT WAS A NORMAL NON-AUTISTIC KID THAT WOULD BE SICK TO VOTE THEM OUT OF THE CLASS, BUT TO VOTE A KID WITH A DISABILITY OUT OF HIS CLASS AFTER HUMILIATING HIM JUST BECAUSE HE HAS A DISABILITY. VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY SICK. THAT WOMAN SHOULD BE FIRED RIGHT AWAY. AND HOW CAN SHE EVEN KICK THE KID OUT. THE SCHOOL IS AT FAULT TOO. THEY SHOULD OF SAID “STFU WENDY YOUR FIRED” RIGHT WHEN SHE SAID THAT SHES KICKING AN AUTISTIC KID OUT BECAUSE HE IS AUTISTIC. CAN’T STAND THAT. THE SCHOOL SHOULD BE KICKING OUT BULLIES AND PEOPLE DESERVING OF GETTING KICKED OUT, NOT KIDS WITH DISABILITIES

Comment by Glenda

June 9, 2008 @ 2:17 pm

Joe, thanks for sharing on this outrageous situation. We all have little quirks that need to be tolerated by others. I hope you have more understanding teachers!

Comment by Tina

June 17, 2008 @ 9:23 pm

wow this is wrong on so many levels, poor kid

Comment by Kim

October 20, 2008 @ 3:50 pm

I can not believe that the school system backed this teacher up. This is very wrong!

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