After hearing complaints from school about “violent outbursts” from his autistic son, Stuart Chaifetz sent his 10-year-old boy to class with a wire to find out what was going on.
The truth was a shocker, Mr. Chaifetz posted online. “I heard my son being bullied by his teacher and aide.”
On Feb. 17, his son, Akian, returned home from Horace Mann elementary school in Cherry Hill, N.J., with hours of audio recordings of verbal and emotional abuse.
“They literally were making my son’s life a living hell,” Mr. Chaifetz said in a video he published on YouTube.
In the recording, school staff can be heard yelling at Akian, mocking his habit of talking to himself and saying: “Shut your mouth.”
At one point, a teacher denies Akian’s request for reassurance, sending him into a panic. In the recording, a voice identified by Mr. Chaifetz as the teacher’s aide responds by saying: “Oh Akian, you are a bastard.”
At other times, school staff had inappropriate conversations in front of the students, all of whom had behavioral and communication problems, Mr. Chaifetz said. The teachers talked about their sex lives and alcohol use, and complained about parents in front of their children.
After listening to the recording, Mr. Chaifetz concluded that his normally “happy child” was “lashing out because he was being mocked, mistreated and humiliated.”
Mr. Chaifetz confronted the school, resulting in the dismissal of the teacher’s aide. The teacher, however, remains employed in a different classroom.
“That my son's teacher was not fired and still works in the school district is an outrage I am not willing to allow to pass in silence,” Mr. Chaifetz said in an e-mail to The Huffington Post.
Mr. Chaifetz is not the first parent to use hidden recording devices to detect abuse at school.
In November, the parents of 14-year-old special needs student in Washington Courthouse, Ohio, produced audio proof that their daughter was being bullied by teachers, 10TV.com reported.
In the tape, a teacher's aide, identified as Kelly Chaffins, belittles the girl after she answered a question.
“Are you kidding me?” Ms. Chaffins reportedly said. “Are you that damn dumb? You are that dumb? Oh my God. You are such a liar.”
Ms. Chaffins resigned after the tapes were made public.
Do you know special-needs kids who have been bullied by school employees? Does it happen more often than many people think?