I've been looking back at some past posts, and I realize that I haven't followed up on Wendy Portillo, the scumbag teacher who not only humiliated a child with learning disabilities in front of his classmates, but got his classmates to participate in the humiliation. Her actions traumatized 5 year old Alex Barton.
When last we looked in on the St. Lucy County Schools teacher, she had been removed from contact with children pending an investigation. That was on May 27th, the end of their school year.
So here we are, well into the new school year. And Portillo?
District spokeswoman Janice Karst said Portillo still is on temporary assignment away from children until the investigation is completed. Because lawyers have gotten involved in the issue, the investigation is taking longer to complete, Karst said.What a load of crock! Sure, lawyers can complicate a case, but this case isn't that complicated. This isn't about lawyers, this is about the School Board being a cowardly group of incompetent hacks. The facts in this case are clear, and the actions to be taken are equally clear.
- TC Palm, August 25 2008
Let's review the facts that are NOT in dispute:
- Alex Barton was undergoing evaluation for Autism.
- Wendy Portillo was aware of this.
- There were procedures in place to deal with his discipline issues.
- Portillo did not follow those procedures when she called Alex up in front of his classmates.
- Portillo was aware that what she did was not one of the procedures because she was part of the team that wrote those procedures.
- She did call Barton up in front of the class, and she did have his classmates tell him why they didn't think he belonged in the class.
- She did call for the other children to take a vote on whether or not he should stay in class.
- When the children voted that he should not stay in class, she did send him to the nurse's office.
- At no time did Portillo inform the Principal or Mrs. Barton about these actions; Mrs Barton discovered this only when she came to pick up her son at the end of the school day and was told to go to the nurse's office.
The School Board only has to determine a few things:
Were there polices and procedures in place?
Was Portillo aware of those policies and procedures?
Did she follow those policies and procedures?
Were Portillo's actions reasonable given the and procedures that were place?
Now, look at those questions, and review the nine facts that are not in dispute. The answers are all there, they are all obvious, and the conclusions are inescapable.
A lot of people have latched on to Alex's autism; they argue that this is a case about whether or not a child with autism should be in mainstream classrooms. These critics are wrong; while that is an issue worth discussing, that is not the issue of this case. The issue of this case is "Did Wendy Portillo act appropriately, given the guidelines that were in place at the time of the incident?"
Portillo, versed in the policies and procedures, supposedly educated in dealing with 'special needs' children, threw out the rules and had his classmates judge him for something he had no control over.
Let's remove Autism from the discussion for a moment. It's not actually relevant to this discussion; the real issue is a teacher's treatment of a student with disabilities. Alex Barton has a physical disability; his brain is wired differently from yours or mine. He can not control his out bursts; eventually, with treatment, those outbursts may be mitigated. But they will not be reasoned with, any more than you can reason with tuberculosis, cancer or an amputated limb.
If Alex had Cerebral Palsy instead of Autism, we would not be having this discussion. A student with Cerebral Palsy can also be a disruptive influence in class; they can have difficulty moving around, they can have a hard time communicating clearly. Their physical demeanor can frighten or disgust other children.
If Wendy Portillo had asked her class to judge a child with Cerebral Palsy, her ass would have been fired immediately.