Stuart Chaifetz is the father of a 10-year-old boy who’s been diagnosed with autism. His son, Akian, was repeatedly sent home from school with notes from teachers complaining of violent outbursts. Chaifetz became suspicious because the behavior described in the notes didn't match up with the son he knew, and so one day he sent Akian to school wired with a recording device. He says the recording proves his child was being bullied and abused by staff members.
AC360 has picked up this story because we take bullying very seriously, and the thought of a special-needs teacher bullying a student is clearly disturbing. And there are some difficult moments picked up on the tape. For example, at one point an unidentified adult female, caught on tape, says to Akian, "You are a bastard."
Stuart Chaifetz brought the recording to the attention of the school board in his town, Cherry Hill, New Jersey. As a result, administrators fired one of the two aides who were overheard on the recordings. The other aide, along with teacher Kelly Altenburg, were transferred.
The school district first responded to the events that took place with this statement: "I want to assure our parents that the individuals who are heard on the recording raising their voices and inappropriately addressing children no longer work in the district and have not since shortly after we received the copy of the recording." And today, they released another statement, after Altenburg's mere transfer seemed by some to equate with an exoneration: "While we cannot legally comment specifically on personnel matters, the District does not consider the matter closed at this time as the investigation remains on-going."
To respond to all of this, Stuart Chaifetz joined Anderson on the show tonight. Also, an expert on these matters– Arevea Martin, a disability rights attorney and children's advocate.
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