Alex Barton is five years old. On Wednesday, his kindergarten teacher decided to teach her class a bit about bigotry and exclusion. Unfortunately, she seems to have been for rather than against these principles. Wendy Portillo invited the members of Alex's class to state the reasons they did not like him. Then a vote was taken. By a vote of 14 to 2, Barton was removed from the class.
Since his "eviction" from the St. Lucie Co. (Florida) class he has felt "sad" and has repeated the words, "I'm not special," over and over to himself. The reasons students gave for disliking Alex included that he is "disgusting" and "annoying." Since February, the young man has been in the process of being evaluated for Asperger syndrome.
Let me be clear: I don't care whether or not Alex is assigned a diagnostic label. I don't care what he did to be classified as "disgusting." The behavior of this teacher is reprehensible. She has not disputed the allegation, but according to Port St. Lucie spokeswoman Michelle Steele, has confirmed that the incident did take place.
Please help ensure that proper disciplinary action is taken. People with differences of all sorts deal with bullying from peers every day. It is no secret to many of us that teachers and others in authority can be bullies, too. But when the bullying is directed and produced by a so-called educator, surely this must cross a line visible to all. Please take a stand against this abuse. If you have a blog, please write a little something in support of Alex Barton. Maybe he isn't special. He shouldn't have to be. He's a five year old boy, a human being, worthy of respect.
Please email@example.com any emails you send. ASAN asks that everyone use respectful language in addressing those listed.
Edit: Please visit this post at Autistic Nation. Christschool has provided form letters which can be used to address the school's principal, superintendent, school board chairperson, state's attorney, Department of Education and news media. Each letter details the legan and ethical violations commited, and calls for the resignation or dismissal of Wendy Portillo. The letters can be modified to make a more personal statement reflective of your own views.
Thanks to Amanda at Ballastexistenz where I first learned of this.
Edit (May 29): More details from the police report are available now, including this from Melissa Barton:
She told the officer that after she talked with Portillo about the voting, Portillo "blocked the door for about five minutes to prevent me from leaving the classroom with my child, who was visibly shaken by the abuse."