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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Andrew's Voice Speaks Out!

I have contemplated on releasing this information.  However, Union County Public Schools is giving me no choice with their lack of response and actions.  Andrew had been attending a Preschool for special needs children at Rock Rest Elementary School provided through the Union County Public School District.  We were noticing behaviors that were not characteristic for Andrew.  He did not want to come out of the house to get in the car when he was going to school.  You see, the school requires school logo uniforms to be worn and that's the only time Andrew wore these particular shirts which are red with the school logo.  He would also get visibly upset when we approached the school entrance.  I also had witnessed the aide taking Andrew by the wrist and almost literally dragging him because she was in a hurry while she was fussing at him to hurry up.  Andrew has low muscle tone and is not able to walk as fast as his peers, especially not an adult.  The teacher was also reporting to me that he wasn't responding to them and at times even refusing to walk.  This was not typical for Andrew.

 Due to these and other observations I decided to wire Andrew on April 19, 2012 with a digital recorder to find out exactly what's going on at school.  To my disbelief, things were far worse than I had imagined.  I was horrified at what was on the audio recording.  The teacher and aide verbally abused, harassed, bullied, and physically forced Andrew and caused him physical and emotional pain.  He was yelled at repeatedly to the point of him shaking out of fear to take his backpack off instead of providing him with any assistance.  Then you hear a struggle from the teacher with Andrew while she is continuing to fuss at him.  Also, due to his low muscle tone and seizure medications he can get fatigued easily.  He also has tightened hamstrings which is common in children with low muscle tone.  During carpet-time he had laid back on the floor, was not making a sound, and wasn't bothering anyone else.  The teacher begins to yell at him to sit up.  She proceeds to physically force him into a sitting position and forces his legs into the "crisscross applesauce position."  This position is uncomfortable and painful for him due to the tightened hamstrings.  When he was forced into this position he began to cry.  The aide yelled at him to stop crying and had another child to tell him to stop crying.  Then the teacher says, "There's no reason he can't sit there just like everyone else.  There's nothing enabling him from doing that."  Undoubtedly this teacher has very little knowledge about children with disabilities and yet she's teaching a special needs preschool class.  The teacher yells at a student for stating the wrong type of weather for this particular day and yells at another student for not pointing correctly as he's counting.  Some of the children, including Andrew, were mocked and laughed at for behaviors from their disability they had no control over.  There were no positive reinforcements, encouragement, or proper teaching techniques used during any of this audio.  Andrew was ignored throughout the day, except for the times he was yelled at and physically forced.  At one time the aide was literally screaming at him to "sit down" repeatedly.  At the end of the day the aide told Andrew, "Don't come tomorrow either, stay home with your nurse."  Then you hear the teacher laugh at the remark. There's much more to this audio to be released.  This audio is very disturbing.

Why? Why? Why?  Andrew did not make a sound all day except for when he cried out in pain due to the teacher's force.  He was never disruptive nor did he hurt anyone.  This was done by the teacher and aide out of complete malice.  They knew Andrew nor the other children could tell anyone.  Andrew is non-verbal and can't repeat anything that's told to him. 

This audio recording was presented to the school administrator on April 23, 2012.  As of today, the teacher and aide remain in the classroom with the children.  I immediately removed Andrew from the class.  The district will not give me any answers related to the matter.  When I have asked why they haven't been suspended pending the investigation, the district responds with, "This is a personnel issue and we can't release that information to you."  When I spoke with the Union County Public School district on Monday they gave me this same answer regardless of what question was asked.  There was a closed door school board meeting on May 9, 2012 outside the county concerning personnel issues.  Following that meeting, the teacher's position is posted on their website as a job opening at Rock Rest Elementary School for the new school year beginning in August.  However, it seems as the district has chosen to leave the staff in place the remainder of the school year to make this quietly go away.  We will not let this quietly go away and will give a voice that these children need.  We would like an apology from the teacher and aide for the way they chose to treat Andrew.  Also, we are looking for answers and for the district to take appropriate action.  We would also like to ask, "Is it Union County Public School's stand that verbal abuse, harassment, bullying, and physical force does not warrant removing staff from his/her duties immediately?"  It's been over 3 weeks with no answers and the teachers are still in the classroom.  We have full intentions of going as far as necessary to ensure districts are not allowed to cover up these type of behaviors from staff.  It is our hope that North Carolina joins New Jersey in legislation to pass a law that requires staff to be immediately removed from the classroom that violate any anti-bullying policy.

Please join me in making Andrew's, and the other children's, voice loud and clear.  These type of behaviors will not be tolerated in our schools.  No child should be treated this way.  But when the teachers prey on the most vulnerable they should be disciplined. www.facebook.com/saynototeacherbullies  

29 comments:

  1. I am enraged after reading this post in the car line at Rock Rest Elementary. I will pass this on to other parents within the school and others along the way. Being a parent and an ex-teacher of special needs myself, I cannot help but to tear up reading this story. This year I have noticed a massive change in my child as well. The smile, the want, and the excitment my child use to have for school is completely gone and has been since the second month of school. When the matter of my child being picked on by another student and physically touched by this student was brought to light, I was all but told that my child was a pathological lier by an administrator at this school. This school in my opinion is ran like a prison where it is ok to verbally insult and put down the children instead of offering encouragement. We send our children to school to learn not to be bullied by other students, put down, or bullied by their teachers. I applaud you for giving a voice to the ones that do not have a voice and to the other children of this school who are too afraid to tell due to the fear of consequences at this school. May God bless you and your son!

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  2. From what I've read today about this XXXX teacher and teacher's aide and the school, school system,it is a shame that this little boy and his class mates have to be subjected to this outragous behavior. I sure hope that they can get the punishment that they surely deserve.(It's a Blessing from God to them that this wasn't my child because it wouldn't have went this way from the day he brought home that tape.) I think that legal action should be brought against all concern in this matter. Maybe the school system would open their eyes and ears and take notice that children shouldn't be treated like this little boy was treated regardless of any kind of disablities or not. It is really a total shame that these children with their disablities are treated with such disregard and disrespect from an aldult to start with and I hope on judement day they are treated with such.

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  3. I work with children with special needs in Pennsylvania...I absolutely love my job!! I have worked with non-verbal children, I have worked with children who because they cannot verbally express themselves they act out physically, and I absolutely LOVE my job!! I have trouble sometimes finding a job because I don't have an education degree, I have a psychology degree....it sounds like these teachers need some more training and education before they ever get a job anywhere or maybe a different profession that they enjoy...I am so sorry this is happening to your son, I am sure he is so thankful that you can be his voice!! I will keep your son and family in my prayers!! Justice needs to come...these teachers need to be let go from there jobs!! This has brought me to tears, I wish I could do more to help you, but I will be praying for you!!
    ~Marylou

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  4. stacey cunninghamMay 18, 2012 at 5:28 AM

    Thank you for bringing this issue into the light. I am hopeful that Andrew's story will bring change to this school, to the district, and to schools across our state. It breaks my heart that this happens at all, and especially in a class for children with special needs.

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  5. I pulled my son from a UCPS EC Classroom in 2009 due to issues that lead to him shutting down completely. We live in Indian Trail. I wish we could just trust those who we leave our children with, but we can not.

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  6. THANK YOU FOR SHARING ANDREWS STORY. I ALSO HAVE A CHILD IN ROCK REST SCHOOL AND HE COMES HOME EVERYDAY WHERE HE HAS PULLED TICKES HAD HES TEACHER WRITEING COMMENTS ABOUT HOW HE HAS BEEN ACTING UP ALDAY BUT WHEN WE TALK TO HIM ABOUT IT HE STARTS CRYING AND SAYS I DIDNT DO THAT AND THAT HIS TEACHER IS JUST SAYING THAT ABOUT HIM ... HE ALSO GETS UP EVERY MORING CRYING SAYING HE DONT WANT TO GO TO SCHOOL..NOW READING ANDREWS STORY MAKES ME WOUNDER IF SOMETHING MORE IS GOING ON AT THAT SCHOOL THAN METS THE EYE..WE HAVE ALSO PUT OUR CHILD ON ADHD MEDS.TO TRY TO HELP WITH HIS TEMPER BUT ITS NOT WORKING HE STILL CRYS EVERY MORNING ..NOW I WONDREING IF HE REALY NEEDS IT OR IF HE IS CRYING OUT FOR HELP..THIS IS SO SAD WE CANT TRUST THE PEOPLE WE INTRUST OUR CHILDREN TO..

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  7. This is terrible. I am so sorry that Andrew has been treated this way. UCPS should do something about this teacher and aide immediately.

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  8. I am feeling sick to my stomach! It breaks my heart to think anyone would treat a child the way Andrew was treated, much less someone who is there to care for and nurture him! It terrifies me think how many children have been treated this way by a teacher! I have signed your petition and shared your story on my FB page. Thank you for being the kind of mom who trusts her instinct and does something about it!

    And now for a little critique of sorts :) I would like you to consider changing your font…while it is cute, if you are on an iPad or a device with a limited font selection, the font defaults to a cursive one and it is very hard to read!! I think the whimsical font is nice for headers and callouts but I don’t want people to miss your story because it was too difficult to read the blog entries!

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  9. I would like to know their names if you can share that please.

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  10. How can you wire your child? I think the school needs to call dss on you and fight to have you removed. Not to mention UCPS should ban and sue you for this.

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    2. By any chance are you the teacher that did this? It kind of seems interesting that you would read a story like this and actually post something so ridiculous. I work for the police department and bugging can be done very discreetly its done everyday in the Criminal Justice Field. UCPS has no leg to legally stand on when it comes to this. With all do respect it seems that you do not know the laws in place when it comes to matters like this. Technically the parent in this situation by law had every right to bug her child and if the recording ever comes out for the public to hear, as long as no other childs name or private information is used or heard, no laws have been broken. Now if the teachers physically touched these children, many laws have been violated on several levels. Out of respect I will not touch base on the D.S.S. part of your comment. As a parent myself and im assuming you are too, I personally cannot believe someone would degrade a parent for attempting to protect their child. FYI I personally know two teachers from that school who have seen and heard abuse going on in this classroom and in others. I will pray for you tonight and the teachers who did this that God will heal all with evil intentions. May God bless you.

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    3. Its nice that the childrens situations amuse you. Second of all if your going to be very bold and write something so insanly irrational, have the balls to sign your post instead of putting your tail between your legs and hiding under anonymous. Why post something so heartless and so unintelligent? To me this screms the teacher or aid that did this. Someone should help you with your homework, the Department of Social Services does not go after parents trying to protect their child or remove them from an abusive situation. UCPS has no ground on a lawsuit against this parent, in all actuality this parent and others who have proof of this abuse has grounds for a massive lawsuit against the school system and teachers who did this. On a quick note my child attends this school and on other post I have read that another parent is upset and defending these teachers. I was informed by another teacher that this parent is another teacher at the school who is friends with the aid. If this is the case, this child from the information I have has only been in that room for a couple of weeks. Ask yourself this, would these teachers abuse another teachers/friends child who can talk and report the abuse? I am normally not at the school but the few times I have been there I personally have seen the aid grab children by the collar of their shirt and arm, make fun of the older children in the special needs class (I even witnessed her mocking a child about her weight and wanting a cookie) she constantly has a ticked off look on her face and complains if she has to open a door for a child to get out of the car, she proceeds to yell at children if they don't get out of the car fast enough, she mocks other parents including running her mouth with another teacher about a mother who was sick not looking sick at all, this parent indeed was sick and has a potential life threatening illness. Somehow the information about the parent being sick was discussed infront of my son by this teacher. I know the parent who was mocked and let me tell you that she is a wonderful lady who does everything to help others just smile for the day. The family has been battling a fight for years that has taken away their right to bare more children early on. This lady loves her childs teacher and from what I have seen even after this aid desided to be cruel to her about being sick, she has continued to be decent to her because that is her nature. When did it become ok for people to mock children, abuse children, and make fun of people who are sick in anyway? My wife and I adore our sons teacher and many others at this school, its so unfortunate that these two teachers are giving the others a bad name. Please let me assure everyone here that there are many teachers who are wonderful at this school who deserve to be recognized for their wonderful care of the children.

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    4. Sounds like sour grapes from a perpetrator to me. What are you afraid of?

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    5. Its amazing isn't it that the recording has now hit the news. Funny I don't see any postings from Mrs. Anonymous anymore about rights being violated or how D.S.S. should be called on this mother. If im not mistaken when you put your hands on this child and ran your massive arrogant ignorant mouth to him, didn't you violate his rights and other children you were hired to care for? See it amazes me that there's always something to say until the mess hits the fan and the truth comes out then the massive mouth and balls you thought you had run and hide. By the way great move on resigning I see that not only are you a bully who likes to put your hands on children, your also a coward. What you did was a crime but im sure you didn't think of that. As for the other teacher, I am pretty appalled she's an actual teacher for special needs considering that she aparently has no clue about the types of disorders the children in her care have. It baffles me that she has not been removed from the classroom for her part. You two give the decent teachers at this school a bad name and I hope you are ashamed of what you did. I hope charges are brought against you both and you never step foot around or near another child again!

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    8. Before you post again, step back put yourself in the shoes of any parent. Would you want someone mistreating your child? What actions would you want taken against the ones who have harmed your child? Im certain if your child was in this position and being harmed at school you would have a different stance on this issue. If this parent would of stood back and allowed this abuse to go on then she would of been just as bad as the ones doing it and anyone who does that does not deserve to be a parent. Instead this mother cared about her son and took action like anyother parent who cared about their child would. Im assuming your the teacher just by your comments. People do not send their children to school because they do not want to deal with them, they send their children to school to learn. Now the last time I checked isn't it against the law to not send your child to school or at least have them enrolled in a schooling program. Try this on for thought, if the tides were turned and you saw this child or anyother come in the door acting afraid and scared to go home and there was proof of abuse, would you stand back and allow it to go on? What if the abuse was reported but it fell on deaf ears and no action was taken against the abuser so they continued to abuse the child. Would you be enraged or furious because no one helped this child and nothing was done to stop the abuser from harming this child again or other children? I understand how stressful the job can be I know this because I taught for several years as a special needs teacher. I loved what I did and I was honored to teach such remarkable children. Sometimes just like anyother job you have to step back and breathe then jump back in. My childs teacher is wonderful just like many at this school and its sad to know that their getting bad raps because of two teachers who couldn't take that step back and think rational. If you are the teacher please learn from this and step back and think about your position. If this job has become so stressful for you and you leave hating your job, for the sake of yourself and others take on another career. Life is too darn short to hate what you do or to become so stressful you turn to doing things you wouldn't normally do.

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    9. this mother never wanted the teacher and teachers aid to be gone . she wants justice for her son. How can you say some peaople should be parents . Children with specail needs have just as much right to public school as any other child . They just need more help . It's sorry of those people employed by the school to help children with specail needs when they there selfs cant help there self . If you work with children you should never yell, raise your voice or show the child your fustraction. AS for you keep your rude comments to your self this mother did what any parent trying to protect there child needed to do. I'm glade there is a parent out there willing to put a end to this bullying by those teacher's and gettingthe other kids to do it as well . telling a child to stay home with his nurse was out of line. I hope this child can recover from this move on find a school he loves .

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    11. Since Mrs. Bully,(the aide), feels that she needs to keep posting and thinks no one knows who she is, we will attempt to educate her. I happen to know this little boy very well and am a professional who works with special needs kids, especially many with autism. I know this mom and little boy and he is a very lucky little boy to have such an amazing mom to step up for him. You are obviously very ignorant. I've heard you speak and you actually write the same way....I wonder how educated you really are. First, this little boy is very happy where he is at now and is in a loving environment at his preschool. Also, this is an appropriate preschool. I have personally listened to this audio and there is nothing appropriate about it. If you put aside all of the bullying and abuse it would still be an inappropriate environment for a preschool. The children were never read a book, no music, no games, nothing fun with the children. The teachers had their own personal conversations throughout the day and ignored the children. They even made inappropriate comments about the parents throughout the day in front of the children. I guess YOU don't remember the disciplinary policy. It definitely was not followed. There were no positive reinforcements and no encouragement provided for the children. Andrew's only way of communicating sometimes is through his behavior...as YOU know he doesn't even say NO! If you would educate yourself on low muscle tone and tightened hamstrings as he has it's uncomfortable for anyone with tightened hamstrings and actually painful for most. His mother knows his cries, and this was a cry of pain. What's the big deal if they sit 'crisscross applesauce' anyway? Also, he gets fatigued easily due to his medications and the low muscle tone. This is a special needs class!!! Not an army boot camp as another parent described it when they were listening to this audio. And to refer to him as drive his teachers crazy just shows your stupidity and the fact that you don't need to be around any children! On the audio he didn't make a sound or bother anyone except the time he cried after being forced into that painful position. The teachers, including YOU (Mrs. Aide), had absolutely no regard for his disabilities and could have cared less about any feelings he has. His behavior was very uncharacteristic for him whenever he went to school. The ONLY time he would attempt to stay in the house when it was time to leave was when he had on the red Rock Rest shirt. He would visibly get upset when we pulled into the entrance of the school, but no where else did he do this. Many saw YOU grab him and other children by the wrist yell at them to HURRY UP! and almost drag them down the hall! The children weren't even being defiant, they just weren't walking as fast as you wanted them to! And yes he was trying to tell his mother not to take him there anymore because the teachers were being mean and abusive towards him. It's all on audio so you need to quit blaming the mother and the child. You are such a disgrace for making an excuse for abuse by saying that the child deserved it based on their actions! By the way, you did what you wanted at your job and now you are gone. There is an entire community that hopes you never work with children again! You have a long history of this. Wonder why you were at 4 schools in 5 years? Hmmmm! Many have seen these behaviors from you towards children at all 4 schools. You're just mad because you got discovered by a mother who took it upon herself to find out exactly what was going on in her son's classroom!! You are so ignorant, the more you post the dummer you look!!!

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  11. Terrifying. As a mother of a child with a speech disorder this story hits so very close to home. I will sign the petition. I also hope that you have shared this story with the parents of Andrew's classmates. They should know who they are leaving their children with.

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  12. I have a son who is 4 years old and an amazing boy, who too has an infectious smile. He was recently diagnosed with Fragile X, another chromosome disorder that also can cause children to be non-verbal; we are fortunate in that Lukas can talk. With that being, I am appalled that this has happened to your son. My son is also in a public preschool program that caters to disabled children, if I thought this was going on at his school I think I would lose it. As a parent who can relate to you struggles, I applaud you for your strength in releasing this information. I know that it is hard to hear someone be cruel to a child you cherish so much. I hope this matter is not swept under the rug, as it appears they are trying to do. I wish you and your family the best of luck. Our children are our legacy and our joy, and for them to be treated this way is unacceptable.

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  13. I am a special educator and have a son with Down Syndrome. He too is non-verbal and will be starting Kindergarten next year. I am terrified that he will be bullied by staff/students as I do not know the staff or the school very well yet. I am so sorry for your situation and really do hope that this is taken to a higher level and some good comes from it, like staff being being dismissed from the top of the problem all the way down (The Prinicipal is just as responsible as the Teachers and should know exactly what is going on in their school). Best of luck!

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  14. I honestly have no words to convey the feelings I have about this incident! This is disgusting and these teachers should not be allowed near children...ever! I have a son who qualified for the EC preschool program last year, and after visiting the classroom, I didn't get a sense of a loving environment like the one he has at his current private preschool. My gut told me not to emroll him, and boy am I glad I didn't! he wouldn't have gone to Rock Rest, but this is the 3rd EC preschool classroom in UCPS I've heard such horror stories about.

    If I were you I would bring the audio you have to the local news stations, and contact the national networks and bring as much attention as possible to this. That is probably the only thing that will make UCPS take any action.

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  15. Really????? Are you serious?!?! When did it become illegal to put a recording device on a child who is obviously being mistreated to obtain evidence? And what can UCPS sue for - it's a public school and she as a parent has every right to know exactly what is going on in the classroom with her child at all times!

    Ridiculous comment...no wonder you remain anonymous!

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  16. This is utterly disgusting! I have a nephew who was slated to attend this school, thank God his mother moved that would allow him to attend another school instead of Rock Rest Elementary. Kudos to you for doing what you needed to do in order to protect your beautiful child! These two need to be terminated immediately as well as the Principal. If I were you I would consider taking assault charges out on the aide and the teacher as well. What kind of vile adult does this to a defenseless child! This just makes my blood boil reading this, I know I can never understand how you as this beautiful lil boy's parent must feel. You send your child to school hoping that he has responsible educators only to find out they are just abusive monsters and yes, that is precisely what they are. How can the school board turn a freaking blind eye to this and allow the rest of that class to be subject to such abuse? I tell you what citizens if you don't get off your butt and vote every one of the jokers on the school board off their high horse come November then you're just as much to blame. I know I will vote against every one of them when the time comes. They are shameful and just as much to blame as the aide, the teacher and the Principal for their lack of action in terminating these three jokers. Kudos to you again and do what you have to do to protect your precious child!

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  17. Bless your heart. I admire this mother for posting this. Because if it were me I couldnt post anything I would BE IN JAIL! I would go to that school and drag them out and let them know how I felt!! Children are so sweet and I had a non verbal child and with help he finally spoke around age 3 1/2. I am praying for you. If there is a picket on UCounty I will drive the 130 miles there and join you

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  18. You should contact the North Carolina Governor's Advocacy Council for Persons with Disabilities. They have attorneys who can help with these types of problems. You may want to pursue criminal charges too.

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