It’s a sorry thing, indeed, when bureaucratic processes can slow or deny the process of bringing justice to someone who has been wronged as horribly as AkianChaifetz. Akian is a ten-year-old boy who attends Horace Mann Elementary School in New Jersey. Akian, like countless other students in America, suffers from an autism spectrum disorder that limits his ability to communicate verbally. He is also, unfortunately, one of many students in America to have suffered abuse and negligence at the hands of his classroom teachers.
Akian’s story begins with an incident report sent by Horace Mann Elementary to his father, Stuart Chaifetz, alleging that he had been having “violent outbursts” in class and had even gone so far as to strike his teacher and teacher’s aide. As it would any parent, this worried Stuart greatly. Stuart claims that these allegations were against his son’s nature.
The recording that Akian returned home with that day revealed hours upon hours of verbal and mental abuse from both his classroom teacher and his teacher’s aide. The two women in question are allegedly Jodi Sgouros and Kelly Altenburg, who together teach a special education classroom at Horace Mann Elementary. In the recording, which Stuart Chaifetz has posted publically on YouTube, should you care to listen to it yourself, Ms. Sgouros and Ms. Altenburg routinely harass the children by poking fun at their disabilities.
They berate Akian — among other children — for speaking to himself and make fun of him when he begins to cry or become distressed. At multiple points in the recordings duration the two women can even be heard referring to him as a ‘bastard’ and with other profanity.
As though these incidents were not disturbing enough, the two women can also be heard speaking about their alcohol abuse and sex lives in front of their students with astonishing frequency. One would imagine that a recording of a professional engaging in such horrifically inappropriate behaviors would be grounds for immediate termination.
Apparently not, at least not at Horace Mann Elementary. The teacher’s aide was fired, but the classroom teacher remains employed within the school district — although she has been moved to another classroom. Stuart Chaifetz, surprisingly, is not willing to take the slap in the face of this teacher’s continued employment lying down. He has vowed to continue to attempt legal action against her and against the school until she is removed from the district.
There are countless small efforts that we can each put forth to end this injustice. There is a petition available for e-signature at Change.org that I encourage all who read this article to sign. We cannot stand idly by while unqualified bullies make a mockery of educational equality and safety.