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Not Special: Support Alex Barton

Posted Nov 10 2008 4:51pm
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.

Write the St. Lucie County School Board at
webmastr@stlucie.k12.fl.us

The school's principal is Marcia Cully: (772)337-6730

Edit: A more complete list of contact information, gathered by Ari Ne'eman of theAutistic Self Advocacy Network(ASAN):

Morningside Elementary School Principal: Mrs. Marcia Cullycullym@stlucie.k12.fl.us(772) 337-6730St.

Lucie County Schools Superintendent: Michael J. Lannon4204 Okeechobee Road Ft. Pierce 34947-5414 Phone: 772/429-3925 FAX: 772/429-3916 e-mail:lannonm@stlucie.k12.fl.us

St. Lucie County School Board Chair: Carol Hilson 772-519-0397HilsonC@stlucie.k12.fl.us

Vice Chair:Judith Miller772-528-4545MillerJ@stlucie.k12.fl.us

Please copyinfo@autisticadvocacy.orgon 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: Why I closed the comments to this post.

Edit: An address (thanks for this to abfh ) to send a card, letter or gift for Alex:

Alex is Special

c/o Barbara Curtis

15648 Britenbush Ct.

Waterford, VA 20197

Edit (May 28): Now you can send a supportive message to Alex at supportalex@treasurecoast.com

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."

Read more here.

Edit (May 30): Read commentary by Christschool on the police report here.

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