Stuart Chaifetz, Father, Takes Us Inside Bullied Autistic Son’s Twisted Classroom [Video]

A father who sent his 10-year-old autistic son to school with a hidden digital tape recorder said the audio tape shows that his son was verbally abused by the boy’s teacher and other adult staff.

When Stuart Chaifetz sent his 10-year-old son to New Jersey’s Horace Mann Elementary School wearing a hidden audio recorder, he couldn’t have predicted what he would find out, reports The Huff Post.

Stuart Chaifetz started receiving notes from Horace Mann Elementary School in Cherry Hill, N.J. which said that his Akian, who has autism, was having violent outbursts and hitting his teacher and his aide — behavior that the boy had never exhibited before.

“Akian has always been a sweet and non-violent child.  That is why it was so distressing when notes started coming home from his school, Horace Mann Elementary in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, stating that he was having violent outbursts, including him hitting his teacher and aide,” Stuart Chaifetz says.

In October Chaifetz  had a meeting with the IEP team (the teacher, school social worker, occupational therapist and speech teacher) as he was trying to figure out what was going on.

A behaviorist was called in, but during several classroom visits he didn’t see Akian become violent, tells Yahoo! “He tried to create a scenario that would push Akian so far that he would lash out,” Chaifetz explained. “And Akian did not.”

On February 17 the father who wanted to know what was happening with his 10-year-old son a hidden audio recorder on him. “That night, when I listened to the audio my life changed forever. I heard my son being bullied by his teacher and aide,”  Chaifetz says in a video he created to showcase the audio clips.

He adds: “The six and a half hours of audio I had proved that my son wasn’t hitting the teacher because there was something wrong with him – he was lashing out because he was being mocked, mistreated and humiliated. His outbursts were his way of expressing that he was being emotionally hurt at school.”

The recording started with Akian’s aide and the teacher, whom Collingswood Patch provides evidence may be Jodi Sgouros and Kelly Altenburg.

The two engage in inappropriate conversations, like joking about their alcohol abuse and sex lives in front of their students – all of whom have behavioral conditions and, according to Chaifetz, communication difficulties that prevent them from relaying the conversations to their parents.

The adults yell at kids to “shut up,” “shut your mouth,” and “knock it off.” teachers have inappropriate personal conversations in front of the children, discussing how drunk they were the night before, complaining about their husbands, and talking in detail about adult issues. More than once, an adult goads Akian to the point of tears – and then laughs at him.

“Go ahead and scream,” one adult hisses menacingly at Akian. “Because guess what? You’re going to get nothing… until your mouth is shut.” And later: “Oh, Akian, you are a bastard.”

“You would never get away with talking about your alcohol abuse the night before if this was a mainstream class,” Chaifetz says in the YouTube video. “And that’s the point, isn’t it? They knew none of those boys could go home and tell their parents that the person who ran that class was under the influence of alcohol and was throwing up.”

Chaifetz gave the entire six-and-a-half-hour recording to the Cherry Hill School district. One aide, Jodi Sgouros, was fired. Another aide and the teacher, whom the Collingswood Patch identifies as Kelly Altenburg, were reassigned but not fired.

“She betrayed my son and caused him great pain. If some union rule or HR regulation has allowed her to keep her job, then the law needs to be changed so that the next time a teacher bullies a child, especially one with special needs, they will be immediately fired. For me to do nothing would mean I was treating my son with as much disrespect as they had,” Chaifetz sas.

Chaifetz started a Facebook page and launched a petition at Change.org calling for the teacher’s dismissal. Stuart Chaifetz wrote on his website that he wants the teachers and aides to apologize for what they did to Austin Chaifetz and other students through their words:

“To this end, I seek a full and public apology from all those adults who were in my son’s class for what they did to him,” writes on his website. “It is also far past time that these issues are allowed to be hidden from public view.”

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