Those of us who aren't teachers wonder how they handle students that disrupt class repeatedly. South Florida's St. Lucie County kindergarten teacher Wendy Portillo has shown us what not to do. Portillo had students vote one of their classmates out of class, Survivor-style, and flog him with humiliating criticism after he returned from the principal’s office for discipline. The victim, Alex Barton, has since been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome. Before he was booted, the comments got nasty.
"Alex is disgusting." "Alex is annoying." "He eats his crayons." "He lies on the floor." "He eats paper." and "He eats his boogers."
The class voted 14-2 to kick Alex out of class in May 2008, and he was homeschooled for the rest of the year. On November 24, Melissa Barton, Alex's mother, reached a settlement with the school to pay her son $350,000. If approval is granted, the family will get $200,000 immediately, followed by annual payments when Alex turns 18 in 2020. Portillo was suspended for a year but is back at St. Lucie County with reinstated tenure.
As for Alex, he actually is a survivor. Two years later, he’s back in school and making the honor roll.