Schools at one point of time were perceived as places that did not only provide children with the art of learning and personal development, but also as places where they had complete security and protection. Or at least this was something we knew before the case of Cherry Hill Public School came to our attention.
The entire case presents a chilling and thought provoking debate on the abusive and disgusting practices teachers are using in public schools. And thanks to Stuart Chaifetz we are now aware of it. A resident of Cherry Hill, Stuart is a single parent of his autistic son, Aklan.
Like other children suffering from this neural disorder Aklan is mostly non-communicative and non-violent, characteristics which are in perfect correspondence with his special condition. However, despite this condition it was complains about Aklan’s bad and violent behavior in the class that kept annoying his father. In an initial attempt to control this Stuart sat down with an IEP team and behavior specialists to chalk out an outline of procedures that must be carried out. But, with no practice boring fruit Stuart decided to take matters in his own hand.
On the morning of February 17, 2012 he came up with an unconventional technique of wiring up his son to actually record the activities that were going in Aklan’s class, and the evidence he obtained confirmed his worst fears. He actually realized that this ill treatment with his son has been tormenting his son for the last six months.
The 17-minute video that has since its release gone viral, reveals some of the most horrendous details of the acts which teachers and caretaker staff is engaged in Cherry Hill Public School. The voice in the recording belongs to Aklan’s teacher Jodi Sgouors who is an educational assistant in the school. She can be heard of dubbing a 10-year old kid ‘a bastard’ ordering him to ‘shut up’ and antagonizing him by saying ‘no’ when he asks about meeting his father.
Furthermore, the caretaker teacher Kelly Altenburg instead of stopping Jodi happily accepts to become an accomplice in this callous act. In the video Aklan can also be heard whimpering like a kicked dog after he is humiliated by his teacher, and hence he reacted to that humiliation by lashing out at his teachers. Stuart says that his son’s life has been made a living hell, following the discordant treatment his son has gone through at his former school.
With the video going viral with a whopping 1.5 million views, the school administration thought it was timely enough to act. In their newsletter released this week, they claimed that individuals involved in such acts no longer work for the school. A poor attempt they thought, that would silence the situation. But in his latest six minute video Stuart has uncovered with evidence that even though Jodi has been fired from her post, Kelly, the aide is still working in the institute, hence once again they are handling serious matters in a completely irresponsible and unprofessional manner.
It is also important to mention here that this is not the first time such incidents crossed our mind. Recently, a case emerged in London in which an elderly woman suffering from Alzheimer diseases was being beaten and slapped by her very own nurse. In another incident that took place in the year 2010 autistic children in Mass School, Boston were subjected to shock treatment on behaving undesirably.
Nothing can be worse than the emotional and mental distress you go through after coming to know of such things happening to people you love the most. Moreover, you pay all these caretakers anticipating an improvement in the behavior of the patient, not for deteriorating their state. Stuart has already said that he demands a public apology from the culprits who were involved in the brutal act. He said he will not sue anyone or file a lawsuit, since it’s a matter of his son’s dignity.
He further accentuates on the formulation of a proper legislation that can impose some kind of a check and balance on teachers, especially the way they treat children with special conditions.