After each classmate was allowed to say what they didn’t like about Barton’s 5-year-old son, Alex, his Morningside Elementary teacher Wendy Portillo said they were going to take a vote, Barton said.
By a 14 to 2 margin, the students voted Alex â€” who is in the process of being diagnosed with autism â€” out of the class.
[â€¦] the boy had been sent to the principal’s office because of disciplinary issues. When he returned, Portillo made him go to the front of the room as a form of punishment, she said.
[â€¦] Barton said after the vote, Portillo asked Alex how he felt.
“He said, ‘I feel sad,’ ” Barton said.
Alex left the classroom and spent the rest of the day in the nurse’s office, she said.
Barton said when she came to pick up her son at the school Wednesday, he was leaving the nurse’s office.
“He was shaken up,” she said.
Barton said the nurse told her to talk with Portillo, who told her what happened.
Alex hasn’t been back to school since then, and Barton said he won’t be returning. He starts screaming when she brings him with her to drop off his sibling at school.
Thursday night, his mother heard him saying “I’m not special” over and over.
Barton said Alex is reliving the incident.
The other students said he was “disgusting” and “annoying,” Barton said.
“He was incredibly upset,” Barton said. “The only friend he has ever made in his life was forced to do this.”
The following is an e-mail I sent to Wendy Portillo:
There are many who look to the youth of today as increasingly troubled, with blame placed on television, video games, and nearly every place but where it actually belongs. Chiefly among the parties actually responsible are people like you.
Not only have you demonstrated an alarming ignorance of the way the human mind operates, you’ve also proven yourself sociopathic through an obliviousness to social dynamics among children so profound that you gleefully chose the worst possible course of action without any hesitation and embraced it. I’m rather astonished that anyone ever trusted you with your own children, let alone other people’s.
Whatever possessed you to single out a child — an autistic one, for that matter, already struggling with social interaction, incapable of fully parsing the meanings of emotions — and allow everyone else in the class to gang up on him? Actually, I need not even ask, as your motivations are transparent: You used the children for which you were granted responsibility to outlet your aggression and frustration with a particular student. And in doing so, you’ve taught them a disturbing lesson about the merits of cruelty, and have led them to place a greater value on obedience than genuine morality.
I considered e-mailing you a parody letter of congratulations from some supremacy group or another, but decided it was ultimately a bit childish and sensationalist. But the sentiment rings true: It’s clear that you feel anyone who doesn’t fit into your rigid definition of acceptability is a danger that should be eliminated, weeded out from society at all costs, even if it means taking advantage of children and turning them against each other in some sadistic little game wherein they’re taught it’s okay to be a bully as long as it’s done as a committee. That you’re allowed to instill such values in children is horrifying. In a sensible and rational society — which, admittedly, is nothing but a pleasing fantasy — you would be fired for this. Likely, you’ll merely be slapped on the wrist and allowed to continue to propagate your deranged message until the end of your career.
This is a sad day for education, and does not bode well for the future of America.