On May 21, Alex Barton, age 5, was escorted out of his kindergarten classroom ... in Port St. Lucie, Fla., by the local police department's "school resource officer." Alex, who is autistic, was taken to the assistant principal, to whom he promised he would "not kick students, throw crayons, eat crayons, crawl under the table, kick the table of other students ... [or] disrupt the class," according to a police report ...
The assistant principal tucked in Alex's shirt, put his "shoes on the right feet and tied them," and sent Alex back to class. During Alex's absence, his teacher, Wendy Portillo, "gathered the students to talk with them" about the youngster's misbehavior.
When Alex returned, Portillo, who has been teaching in Port Lucie for 12 years, directed the youngster to the front of the room and "asked him to listen to what the children didn't like" about him. According to Alex, the children complained that he "eats paper, picks boogers … and bites his shoelaces," and Portillo herself said, "I hate you right now. I don't like you today." ... Portillo next "polled the class" about whether to let Alex back in ... Alex lost the class vote, 14-2, and spent the rest of the school day in the nurse's office. That night, Alex "did not eat dinner [and] would not sleep in his own bed."
There's a police report at the link that includes statements from the teacher and other students. For the most part, their stories match Alex's description of what happened. I can sympathize with a teacher who has a classroom full of children and one is acting out. I can make excuses for her - she was trying to use peer pressure to teach him a lesson.
But Alex has Aspberger's syndrome, which causes a child to exhibit social isolation and eccentric behavior (although I'm not sure a kindergartener eating boogers is all that eccentric). Allowances should be made for his disability. A teacher shouldn't encourage kids to trash a fellow student behind his back, and if they do, why inflict further pain on the child by repeating what they said?
It reminds me of when I was in junior high. I had a teacher who was really bad at math, which was a problem since he was the math teacher. He was always making mistakes when he did equations on the board, and I, being the smart ass that I am, had to correct him.
I guess he didn't like it because one day he laid into me in front of the whole class. He told me that nobody liked me because I was so fat and mouthy. I can't remember what else he said but he went on and on and I just sat there with tears running down my cheeks.
And people wondered why I hated school so much. The only reason I kept going was because I wanted to get a scholarship and get the hell out of there.
I got my scholarship but by the time I got to college, I was thoroughly messed up from 6 years of being a social outcast. We had moved to that town when I was in 6th grade and no one had ever accepted me. I became more and more withdrawn, more and more depressed, and I was showing symptoms of what I now know was bipolar disorder. (It only took 20 years in the mental health system before I finally got the correct diagnosis.)
A few years ago, my mother was going through a photo album and found my 8th grade school picture. She said she was surprised by how sad I looked and was sorry that she hadn't noticed it back then.
I hardly ever slept, I walked around in shirts that were way too big for me, with my hair hanging in my face, hunched over hoping nobody would say anything to me. I was paranoid, hearing voices in the trees, and having out of body experiences. Anybody who didn't notice something was wrong with me wasn't looking.
Today I got a second letter about my 30 year class reunion that's coming up. I have no intention to respond.