Florida Teacher Who Held Vote to Kick Autistic Child Out of Class Loses Reinstatement Bid
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — A kindergarten teacher who held a vote to kick a 5-year-old autistic student from the classroom lost her appeal for reinstatement.
An administrative law judge Tuesday upheld the St. Lucie School Board's decision to suspend Wendy Portillo for a year without pay and remove her tenure.
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The school district determined that Portillo violated the state's code of ethics for teachers and school board rules in May 2008 when she allegedly asked the class to vote whether the boy should stay in the classroom. The student, who was in the process of being diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, had been referred twice to the principal for discipline problems.
He lost the vote 14-to-2.
Hundreds of parents of autistic children signed an online petition to get Portillo fired for her alleged tactics that mirrored the reality show “Survivor.”
The boy's mother, Melissa Barton, claimed her son was punished for symptoms of his disability, such as humming and eating his homework. He didn't return to school after the incident and told his mother he felt sad about it.