What would make a shy, autistic 10-year-old suddenly start lashing out at school?
Stuart Chaifetz was so desperate to help his son, Akian, deal with his recent behavioral problems that he sent him to school with a wire. What he allegedly discovered—and subsequently published to YouTube— was shocking: relentless bullying tactics from Akian’s teacher and aide.
“On the morning of Friday, February 17, 2012, I wired my son and sent him to school,” Chaifetz wrote in the video description. “That night, when I listened to the audio my life forever changed, for I heard my son being bullied by his teacher and aide.”
In this 17-minute video, the teacher and aide can be clearly heard gossiping, talking about getting drunk with the class, provoking Akian, and calling him a “bastard.”
However, Akian’s school, Horace Mann Elementary in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, told Chaifetz that this is a “personnel matter” and the teacher would not be fired. A school official could not be reached for comment.
“I had reached out to them two weeks ago with a final plea to fire the teacher and that was the response I got back, which was the deciding factor in my going public with the video,” Chaifetz told the Daily Dot. “At that point, everything was going to be kept hidden and I refused to allow that to happen.”
Between haunting audio clips of Akian crying hysterically in response to his teachers’ snide remarks, Chaifetz addresses the teacher and aide directly. In the video, he says that he hasn’t revealed the teachers’ full names in hopes that they will come forward with apologies.
“I want an apology not for me, but so one day I can play this video back for my son and say, ‘Akian, you didn’t deserve anything that happened to you,’” he said. “‘These people are at fault.’”
When the video caught Reddit’s attention Monday night, concerned users vowed to get Chaifetz the national attention his story deserves by sending the video to Ellen, ABC, and other news outlets. Chaifetz told the Daily Dot he's thankful for the gesture but doesn’t think he or Akian will be going on TV anytime soon.
“I very much appreciate the public support and I believe there will be more news coverage, but I am keeping a pretty strong wall between my son and the media,” he said.
Chaifetz said has transferred Akian to a new school, where his behavioral problems have all but vanished. In the video, he said he doesn’t plan to take any legal action.
“I’m not going to file a lawsuit,” he said. “It’s not about money. It’s about dignity. This is to reclaim my son’s dignity.”
Photo via YouTube