A horrifying story to report out of New Jersey Thursday, as we’ve learned a father secretly miked up his 10-year-old son with a digital recorder after suspecting the boy, who is autistic, was being abused at school after exhibiting previously-unseen violent behavior.
And the result confirmed he was correct.
Stuart Chaifetz said something didn’t add up when he received reports his son Akian, a student at Horace Mann Elementary School, was being physically abusive to a teacher and his aide.
“The thing that said to me that something horrifyingly wrong was going on was that he was hitting the teacher and the aide,” Chaifetz, 44, told ABC News.com. “I have never seen him hit anyone.
“He’s just not a violent kid,” Chaifetz said, adding that after six months of meeting with experts, he “realized that there was something terrible going on in that classroom and … needed to know what it was.”
After he miked up the boy in February, he reviewed the six-and-a-half hour tape and was “shattered inside” hearing the instructors tease his son, chastise him and have inappropriate discussion within his earshot.
“The culture was so dysfunctional,” Chaifetz said, “that an adult felt she could make fun of a child with a disability and nothing would happen to her. If it wasn’t captured on the audio, she probably would still be making fun of my son.
“That’s a bully.”
In one instance, a teacher called the boy, who was hysterically crying, a “bastard.”
Chaifetz said after taking the evidence to school officials, one of the aides was fired and another teacher — who is tenured — was moved to a different school, an arrangement he’s admittedly uncomfortable with.
“I don’t want her teaching anyone ever again,” he said. “She lost her privilege to do that.
“You don’t hurt my son and get away with it, but that’s what they were doing,” he said. “They told me, ‘It’s a personnel matter and we can’t talk about it.’ Well, you can’t talk about it, but I can. I’m not going to keep this a secret.”
Chaifetz has since taken to social networking forums on Facebook and Youtube to publicze the incident and “reclaim [his] son’s dignity.”
Presiding Superintendent Dr. Maureen Reusche said in a statement of the incident: “Although this is a personnel matter and there are specifics that I cannot legally address publicly, 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.”