No More Teacher/Bullies

Contact: Stuart Chaifetz - StuartChaifetz@gmail.com

Please do not harass anyone!!! I plead with you not to try to contact the teacher or aide or anyone involved with this issue. Thank you.

Teacher/Bully:

How My Son Was Humiliated and Verbally Tormented by His Classroom Staff

My name is Stuart Chaifetz, and my son, Akian, is a ten-year old boy who has Autism. 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.

I could not understand why this was happening. I had never witnessed Akian hit anyone, nor could I dream of him lashing out as had been described to me.  In October, I had a meeting with the IEP team (the teacher, school social worker, occupational therapist and speech teacher) to try to figure out what was going on. From that meeting, a behaviorist was called in who wrote a report.  I sat down with the behaviorist on February 8, 2012 to review the findings.

It was pointless.  The behaviorist was in the classroom a number of times.  Not only had he never witnessed any violent event, but when he tried to create a similar scenario, he failed.

Something was terribly wrong. I felt I was beginning to lose my son – that these outbursts were changing his very nature. I knew my son. I knew this wasn’t him.  I knew I had to find out what was happening in his class that was having a dramatic impact on him.

On the morning of Friday, February 17, 2012, I wired my son and sent him to school. That night, when I listened to the audio my life changed forever. I heard my son being bullied by the staff in his class.

The six and a half hours of audio I had proved that my son wasn’t hitting staff 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.

More Disturbing Audio

Due to the enormous amount of inappropriate conversations on February 17th, 2012, I was unable to include more than a small selection of instances in the YouTube video I created.

With this web page I will expand on what you heard in the video and show you other examples of the contemptible treatment my son received at the hands of his teacher and aides, and further examplesof the inappropriate conversations the staff had, while ignoring the students in the class.

In order to protect the other children in the class, I have tried to avoid using any audio where you can identify them as individuals. Because of that, there are a number of clips I have decided not to use.

• A Woman Calls a Student “Not Very Bright,”Akian is yelled at.

The first part of this conversation has been edited out. It may provide clues identifying which student it was that the staff was talking about.

 

• Speaking Angrily to Children.

 

• Subverting our IEP Meeting  Part 1

I am only playing the first part of this conversation. As time went on you could clearly hear other children.  In this clip the school social worker walks into the room and talks to the teacher about an email I sent asking for an emergency IEP meeting. This is an inappropriate and unprofessional conversation to have in front of the class.The teacher continues to talk negatively about me and discuss Akian’s behaviors while Akian is present.  The conversation continued for nearly 7 minutes.

 

 

• Subverting our IEP Meeting  Part 2

Unfortunately, due to numerous students talking, I am unable to post audio of this part. However, it is important outline this story, demonstrating how the teacher was attempting to fix our IEP meeting by colluding with staff.

Here’s what happened: The Occupational Therapist (OT) walked into the room and the teacher, still upset that I asked for an IEP meeting to discuss Akian’s behaviors, talked to the OT negatively about me.

The two of them went on for approximately eight minutes talking about Akian, the IEP meeting and myself.  The OT says at one point “I said to the District have this meeting, because I am going to say ‘it’s you at home, end of story.’”

Here you have the school social worker, the teacher and the OT, all of whom are part of the IEP team, colluding with each other to walk into the IEP meeting that I requested and blame Akian’s behaviors on me.  This is unprofessional behavior and a clear violation of New Jersey’s Professional Standards for Educators and School Leaders. That IEP meeting was a trap. If not for this audio, I would have walked right into it. 

 

• Angry at Akian Right Off the Bus

 

• Inappropriate Conversation 1

The aide is working with a student when another staff member says: “If you’ve been on weight watchers for four or five years, wouldn’t you be skinny now?” They then proceed to talk about a woman and her boyfriend, how upset they are with her. They use the word “Crap.” The full name of the woman they were talking about was edited out, ensuring her confidentality.

This is an example of how the staff conducted inappropriate, personal conversations, while working with the students. They go from working with a student right into apparently making fun of a woman for being overweight, then back into working with the student, as if nothing had just happened.

 

• Inappropriate Conversation 2

Another clip of staff talking about personal issues (in this case someone complaining about her husband) and then getting mad at a student who interrupts her.

 

• Field Day and Lying to Parents

In this extended clip, you hear staff talk about lying to parents and complaining about a parent, me, in front of my own child.  I have left this long stretch of time mostly intact (I edited out multiple sections and some smaller parts because of the names used) to demonstrate how they ignored the children and conducted inappropriate conversations.

They are talking about Field Day and how the teacher wanted to go on vacation with her husband instead of working. You can hear the kids, left by themselves, “stimming” on toys in the background. One electronic toy is played over and over again throughout the day.

At 00:46 the teacher says, “Our parents don’t come [to Field Day].”  And  “Last year this one came.” 

Akian must have been right there, as I was the “this one” she referenced – the parent who volunteered to help at Field Day the previous year. Once again, they talk negatively about me in front of my son and the other students.

At 1:12 the teacher discusses lying about her attending Field Day. “We could probably hide the fact that I’m not here much more by saying ‘no, she had to run over here, or she had to run over here.’” 

At 3:55 the teacher mentions me by name and how to lie if I ask for her on Field Day: “So if Stu says ‘where’s Kelly?’ Oh she has to take care of some work.” the aidi interjects “She’s inside, she’s inside!”

They then immediately talk about not wanting me to volunteer for Field Day, again speaking negatively about Akian and me.  They state that Akian would “self-destruct” if I were there.

At 4:42, in the middle of further complaining about me, you hear Akian softly say, “Hi,” meaning he had just heard everything they were saying about him and me.

The teacher realizes that Akian shouldn’t be hearing their conversation and said, “Maybe he should not, maybe he shouldn’t…” and the aide said, “Oh Akian, I completely forgot, can you come sit down, you were doing your book and I got sidetracked.”

Even though they just got caught having an inappropriate conversation, they focus on work for only a few seconds before going right back to talking about Field Day.

I should say that Field Day last year was a great experience; nothing went wrong. I had no idea they held anger toward me, and were conspiring to keep me away this year, or lie to me if I did show up to help.


 

• Pregnancy and Sterilization

This final clip happened right at the end of the day.  They discussed not wanting to become pregnant and how their husbands want them to be sterilized, while they want their husbands to be sterilized.

So they started the day with Jodi talking about her use of alcohol; they end the day talking about sex.

 

 

Disaster From the Start:

The First Fifteen Minutes of School

In order to show the dysfunctionality of the staff in this class, and what a hellish experience it was for my son, I am going to break down the first fifteen minutes of the school day, right from the moment the children walk into the classroom.

This first audio clip is when the kids entered the class, before the morning bell rang. The teacher and aide immediately complain about one parent (not included here) and then talk about Akian and me – with Akian right there (you can hear the aide talk to him at the end of the clip). 

The teacher discussed an email I sent to her, asking about a behavior she claimed Akian had the day before. I simply asked her a question, but she’s clearly upset that I  asked.

 

The personal conversations were non-stop until the aide starts the class and talks about her alcohol use.  Here is the alcohol audio section extended.  You can hear they spent only a few seconds talking to the children (names edited out) before returning to personal discussions.

A few minutes later, Akian breaks down and is called a “Bastard.” Not long after that the class is taken to the library.

All of the above: the staff talking negatively about parents in front of their children, long inappropriate conversations, talking about being under the influence of alcohol, complaining about spouses, humiliating Akian multiple times, including calling him a bastard and telling him to shut his mouth twice - happened in the just the first fifteen minutes of the school day.

When I heard what happened in that quarter of an hour I was absolutely devastated. There was still more than six hours of audio for to go through.

After hearing Akian being told  “Shut your mouth” by his aide, I wrote the following email to his teacher on Sunday, 2/19/12:

 

Ms. --------- replied with the following.  Note: she included the school social worker on the reply email.