Stuart Chaifetz is mad. He's so mad, he took his story to YouTube.
Confused as to why his "sweet and gentle" autistic son Akian, 10, was suddenly kicking school employees and throwing chairs, Chaifetz decided to wire the boy. He stuck a digital recorder in his son's pocket and was able to tape 6.5 hours of class time.
What he heard was shocking. The teacher and aide were yelling at Akian and calling him names.
When the district's response wasn't enough, MSNBC reports Stuart Chaifetz posted the following video on the web:
The above audio includes the teachers talking about having a hangover, calling Akian a bastard and telling him to shut up. At one point, the aide angrily tells the autistic boy, "Go ahead and scream, because guess what? You are going to get nothing until your mouth is shut."
This sounds bad, but it gets worse. Akian spends some weekends with his mother, Chaifetz explained to ABC News, and often requires reassurances that he will return to his father in a few days. The teachers know this. When he asked one of them whether he would see his father after he saw his mom, she told him "no." He started to cry.
Though there's little that can be done on a criminal level about teacher bullying and harassment, Stuart Chaifetz and his son Akian are not without rights. Neither are parents of other disabled children.
The Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights is tasked with investigating discrimination in public schools. The agency has confirmed that section 504 and Title II of the American with Disabilities Act prohibit harassment based on disability. Teachers and other school employees cannot legally engage in this behavior.
Hopefully, this law will help Stuart Chaifetz get what he wants from the school district (an apology), and prevents Akian from having to go through such an ordeal again.
- New Jersey dad says autistic son was bullied by teachers, staff (New Jersey Newsroom)
- Special Education and Disability Access: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (FindLaw)
- Teacher Mocks Student's Hairstyle on Facebook (FindLaw's Law & Daily Life)