How would you vote?

I’m going to delve a bit into my own past here to illustrate how much this event has shaken me up. When I was in kindergarten, my teacher, albeit a freshly-graduated teacher, was not very tolerant of me. I say this because I could read when I was three, already knew my shapes, colors, how to write, and easily got BORED in kindergarten. So what do bored kids usually do? Act up or tune out… and I acted up. I will NEVER forget the things she did to me: having the class vote me out a la’ Survivor (this was circa 1975, right when special education was in its infancy), had me referred to special education and labeled emotionally impaired, and held up a paper that I did as an example of what not to do. Sadly, I got this woman again in second grade in a second/third grade split class. The first thing out of that woman’s mouth when she saw me walk into class was “Oh no, not you again.” I kid you not.

So, it is with this that I segue into this horror of a story that I saw circulating through my autism support email lists last week. In St. Lucie, Florida, a sweet looking boy named Alex Barton was subject to his teacher’s bullying. In a move worthy of a reality TV show, she had her class vote this child out of the class. Afterward, the evicted child stated that he no longer felt “special”, and he felt sad. His classmates voted him out in a 14 to 2 vote margin, saying that he was “disgusting” and “annoying”. Alex is currently being evaluated for Asperger’s Syndrome.

What pisses me off so much is that there are teachers that are STILL DOING THIS 33 years later, after I had endured the same thing. I am a college educated woman, I have gone through the training to be a classroom teacher. I’m in graduate school working on my Master’s degrees in special education and reading. NOWHERE IS THIS KIND OF BEHAVIOR ENCOURAGED. The first rule always is “Do no harm.” A fellow blogger, Last Crazy Horn, says that we should follow The Golden Rule. I agree.

Would this teacher, Wendy Portillo, do this to anyone in her family? How would she feel if her students conducted the same vote to see if she was worthy to stay in the classroom in her role as a teacher?

I am so disgusted about this, I could spit blood and nails.

So, with this, I suggest that my fellow bloggers band together and make some noise in support of Alex and his family. At Last Crazy Horn’s blog there is a list of contact information on how to contact the school, the Florida governor’s office.

People can also file complaints at the Office of Civil Rights office at the federal level by using this link here.

Like my friend, Jen, my head is gone, too.

And, as a final thought, please read the poem at the end of my friend’s, Babs, blog about this travesty in education.

Here is more contact information on getting your word out:

Morningside Elementary
2300 S.E. Gowin Drive,
Port St. Lucie, FL 34952
772-337-6730, 772-337-6744
Marcia Cully,Principal

To help you with forming your ideas, here’s the school’s Mission Statement:

“The mission of Morningside Elementary School is to ensure that every
student be afforded a safe and caring environment in which to study
and learn, and that all students be equipped with the knowledge and
skills to succeed.”

Superintendent, St. Lucie County Public Schools
Michael J. Lannon
LannonM @

Principal Morningside Elementary
Ms. Marcia Cully
cullym @

School Board Members:

Mrs. Kathryn Hensley
HensleyK @

Troy Ingersoll
IngersollT @

Dr. Judi Miller
MillerJ @

Dr. John Carvelli
CarvelliJ @

Ms. Carol A. Hilson
HilsonC @

Ms. Wendy Portillo – Alex’s teacher
portillow @

ETA: I have just read that Wendy Portillo has been reassigned out of the class where she was teaching. She needs to be someplace away from kids. Far, far, far away….


14 responses

  1. Pingback: The Golden Rule « Odd One Out

  2. This teacher seems to have had a severe brain injury. I cannot fathom how a teacher could be so cruel. Every adult has an obligation to prevent children bullying, not to set them up to do it. Special needs or not this wasn’t right!

  3. The idiot teachers email addy is missing an L. I hope everyone writes her. It is awful that this type of person is allowed into the school systems. We wonder what is wrong with the youth of today it seems that schools have made no progress since 1975.

  4. Teachers who work with very young children are aware of the subtle ways that children can be harmed by careless remarks and casual insults. Any adult who condones this type of behavior and instigates it when he/she is well aware of the difficulties that child is facing is not acting in the best interest of the child and knows this from the get go.
    Evil, evil, evil….I see it, I hear it and I’m speaking it.

  5. I am dumbfounded. Are there words? No, I too am so angry. My heart just melted for this little boy. His only friend even got up and had to say something negative about him…. this is the worst teacher story I’ve ever heard. I think it’s great that you are doing this….

    People need to be educated on what Asperger syndrome is. My niece has it and it’s really sad when people judge her and don’t realize she has a disability!

    I am still so saddened by this article you pointed out…. just sad.

  6. Pingback: Whitterer on Autism » Blog Archive » Alex Barton

  7. What she did to this boy is a travesty. But she was also abusive of the other 16 students as well. She used them for her own selfish reasons and has taught them that treating another person this way is okay. I hope the districts sees that they will need to intervene with counseling on behalf of these students as well.

  8. UNBELIEVABLE! Thank you so much for bringing this story to light! I am absolutely sickened by this. I really can’t believe it. Can someone…a TEACHER be this big of an evil idiot? Really? Unbelievable. Thanks for all the links and info.

  9. This story still bugs me, especially on the heels of the church kicking out the boy and his family. Two different things to an extent, but first it is a church, now it’s a school. Will our homes eventually be the only safe places for our children? Every other disability is protected, and autism’s treated this way. VERY scary.

  10. I got my first grade teacher again for third grade. I still remember her name. Mrs. Letta. As my mother always told me years later, she had a very “old-fashioned” sense of teaching about her. Whatever the issue was, I still got Unsatisfactory marks under the Conduct section of my report card for her no matter what grade I was in. Not only did she scare me, but really, we just didn’t speak the same language.

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