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Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Maybe some of you have already heard this story. I just heard about it today.
It made me pretty angry.


Teacher lets Morningside students vote out classmate, 5
By Colleen Wixon
Saturday, May 24, 2008

PORT ST. LUCIE — Melissa Barton said she is considering legal action after her son's kindergarten teacher led his classmates to vote him out of class.

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 — who is in the process of being diagnosed with autism — out of the class.

Melissa Barton filed a complaint with Morningside's school resource officer, who investigated the matter, Port St. Lucie Department spokeswoman Michelle Steele said. But the state attorney's office concluded the matter did not meet the criteria for emotional child abuse, so no criminal charges will be filed, Steele said.

Port St. Lucie Police no longer are investigating, but police officials are documenting the complaint, she said.

Steele said the teacher confirmed the incident took place.

Portillo could not be reached for comment Friday.

Steele said 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.

Barton said her son is in the process of being diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, a type of high-functioning autism. Alex began the testing process in February at the suggestion of Morningside Principal Marcia Cully.

Children diagnosed with Asperger's often exhibit social isolation and eccentric behavior..

Alex has had disciplinary issues because of his disability, Barton said. After the family moved into the area and Alex and his sibling arrived at the school in January, Alex spent much of the time in the principal's office, she said.

He also had problems at his last school, but he did not have issues during his two years of preschool, Barton said.

School and district officials have met with Barton and her son to create an individual education plan to address his difficulties, she said. Portillo attended these meetings, Barton said.

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."

St. Lucie School's spokeswoman Janice Karst said the district is investigating the incident, but could not make any further comment.

Vern Melvin, Department of Children and Families circuit administrator, confirmed the agency is investigating an allegation of abuse at Morningside but said he could not elaborate.

I was absolutely fuming after I read this. I hope you were, too. That's why I posted it. I also want to point out that -- while families living with autism is an important subject to me -- imagine if this was done to a 5-year-old without Asperger's -- any 5-year-old for that matter.
What kind of a cowardly person places the onus for dealing with a difficult child on a room full of five-year-olds? Shame on this "teacher." 
Here's a link to the story (including a family photo of little Alex).
Thanks to the MySpace Page "Autism Awareness" for bringing this story to my attention.

Again, thank you to the Autism Awareness MySpace page for the following:

CONTACT INFO for the Port St. Lucie School District:

Morningside Elementary School Principal:
Mrs. Marcia Cully
(772) 337-6730

St. Lucie County Schools Superintendent:
Michael J. Lannon
4204 Okeechobee Road
Ft. Pierce, FL 34947-5414
Phone: 772/429-3925
FAX: 772/429-3916

St. Lucie County School Board Chair:
Carol Hilson

Vice Chair:
Judith Miller

Friday, May 23, 2008

Where's the party?

I have been out of school now for just about a week but have not blogged until now.
Partly, I needed to re-group, and, partly, I just haven't known what to write about lately.
I'm holding off on writing about the theatre scene at the moment, because, in my present frame of mind I would probably over-use words like "pandering", "limpid", and "shallow," and, I'd rather not do that right now.
I expect that I will soon fall back in love with Denver theatre, but, for the moment, we're "taking a break."
It's not you, it's me. Really.
As for movies, Iron Man was great, in my opinion, Speed Racer was a lot of fun (no sequels this time though, please, Wachowski brothers) and Dan in Real Life was well-acted but predictable. I haven't mustered up the courage to see the latest Indiana Jones yet. I'm a big Harrison Ford fan, but I'm just not sure that this movie needed to be made.
So, today, dear readers, I am going to broach a subject that I normally eschew: politics. The DNC is coming to Denver in August, and there are some bloggers up in arms that they aren't invited because they have been critical of party leadership.
Now, I'm not a Democrat (or a Republican, for that matter), but I think I can see both sides of this.
On the one hand the DNC wants to throw a big mutual admiration, pat-each-other-on-the-back, ain't-we-just-grand, feel-good family shindig, and they'd just as soon not have the bickering cousins sitting at the head table. Well, it's their show. I guess they can invite whomever they want.
On the other hand, these bloggers show their loyalty to their party through their willingness to yell "BS!" from time to time, to keep everyone on track. They are just doing their part, and should probably be allowed to join the fiesta.
Honestly, though, I think that this country's inexplicable need to be an "either/or" when it comes to political affiliation is a great hindrance to democracy and efficiency.
Ideologically speaking, there are moderate Democrats and moderate Republicans who are nearer to one another than they are to the center of their own parties, not to mention the extremists. Yet, these two individuals of nearly identical minds will vote completely opposite of one another simply because they identify themselves as being part of one "club" versus another because of their upbringing or their geography. Plus, they're lazy.
"I don't have to know the platforms of every candidate on the ballot. I just need to know their party."
Democracy in action. Democracy inaction.
Add to this the fact that, once elected, the representatives of each side spend so much more time throwing mud (on-camera whenever possible) at the other team that not much really seems to get done. At this point, there are only two ways for government to be more fruitful under the current system:
The first way is for one side to dominate another in the elections and seize power. The major downside to this is that a significant portion of the population will feel highly under-represented, and we don't need another "Mason-Dixon Line" in this country.
The second way is through the "miracle" of bipartisanship. This is a big deal when this happens, it seems, because it always manages to get plenty of coverage in the press.
"Oh. look! One of the red guys is shaking hands with one of the blue guys! They're working together, isn't it amazing?"
(Do yourself a favor. Look into the etymology of "Congress" sometime.)
Am I saying that we need a third party? Yes, and a fifth, and a seventh. (Odd numbers tend to work out better when one reaches an impasse.)
It's time that we ask ourselves why am I in this club? If you know the answer and like the answer, then cool, be a DNC'er or a GOP'er, by all means. However, if you find yourself with doubt in your heart, embrace that doubt.
Take responsibility for your vote, a lot of people fought very hard that you may have it. Vote for people and ideas, not "colors" or "animals."
Do your representatives represent you? If not, then you've got nobody to blame but yourself.
Okay, I'm going to step off of the soapbox now.
It's a good thing, too, because you don't want me to get started on the electoral college . . .