When Stuart Chaifetz learned that his 10-year-old son, Akian, was being violent and disruptive in class, he was puzzled. He knew Akian, who has autism, to be mild-mannered and sensitive, and had a hunch that something more was going on. But after several meetings with a team of school officials created to help special-needs students, nothing changed. So Chaifetz did what any concerned parent would do.
On the morning of Friday, February 17, 2012, I wired my son and sent him to school. That night, when I listened to the audio my life changed forever. I heard my son being bullied by his teacher and aide. The six and a half hours of audio I had proved that my son wasn't hitting the teacher because there was something wrong with him -- he was lashing out because he was being mocked, mistreated and humiliated. His outbursts were his way of expressing that he was being emotionally hurt at school.
The New Jersey father has since launched a website full of damning evidence and a Facebook page, and he is petitioning the state to change legislation so that teachers who bully children are immediately fired. The aide has been fired, but the rest of the staff have merely been relocated.
"I seek a full and public apology from all those adults who were in my son's class for what they did to him," Chaifetz says. "It is also far past time that these issues are allowed to be hidden from public view."