A Michigan school district settled on a one-year suspension of a teacher they were trying to terminate after a video showing the teacher taunting a boy with Asperger syndrome went public. The video caught Nicole McVey, a teacher at Goodrich Area School district verbally harassing an elementary school child that she knew had Asperger Syndrome after he had gotten himself stuck in a chair. The video was released after a staff member responsible for reporting bullying saw the extent of bullying inflicted on the child with Asperger syndrome and when the video was public, it quickly brought national attention.
The video was recorded late last year at Oaktree Elementary School. The video of the teacher making fun of the boy with Asperger syndrome was released to a TV station in February and quickly went viral. Goodrich area schools intended to fire the teacher, but after she fought their attempts to terminate her, the school district settled with her offering McVey a one-year suspension instead. According to MLIVE, the boy's family believes the punishment does not go far enough. According to WLNS News, Nicole McVey wrote an apology letter to the parents of the autistic boy saying that she was "truly sorry" for making a "very bad series of choices."
Patrick Greenfelder, the family's lawyer also feels the suspension was inadequate punishment after witnessing the torment the teacher inflicted on the boy with Asperger syndrome. Greenfelder said, "The parents of the child are very upset about the board's decision, and about the fact that they were never consulted about the matter before making the decision to drop the Tenure proceedings." The video shows the boy with Asperger syndrome frightened by being stuck in the chair. Meanwhile, the teacher is heard asking the student if he could shimmy his way out while they waited on the maintenance person who, as heard on the video, had to come from an entirely different building. Instead of attempting to remove extra stimuli from the classroom immediately or comfort the child with Asperger syndrome, she asks him if he wanted to get tasered and questions how he got stuck in the chair in the first place. "If you wouldn't have put your head in there in the first place, you wouldn't be in this situation," she said, blaming the boy with Asperger syndrome for the situation he was in. Finally, we can hear the woman tell the other students to leave the room, but not before creating a frightening environment for the autistic boy.
In addition to the suspension, the teacher will also be required to attend training on classroom relationships as well as the proper way to handle student information. She will not be allowed at any school sponsored events for the duration of her suspension. The school board's vote for the teacher's suspension was unanimous. MLIVE reported that the family's layer may pursue legal action for infliction of emotional distress, failure to protect and invasion of privacy against McVey, the Goodrich Area School district and any others found to have irresponsibly handled the child with Asperger syndrome's predicament.
In a statement that incited outrage within the Asperger's community, Superintendent Scott Bogner stressed "the importance of compassion for those that make mistakes" and said, "This has not been easy for the student or the teacher that was involved." He continued, "When people make mistakes, and we all will, there is room for grace even as accountability occurs."
Do you think that a one-year suspension is a suitable punishment for the teacher who taunted the boy with Asperger syndrome after he accidentally got himself stuck in a chair?