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Bullied autistic boy’s father continues fight for justice
Ten-year-old Akian Chaifetz was systematically bullied by his teacher, yet she still has her job. Will viral fame bring him justice?
Four million YouTube video views and 40,000 Facebook supporters may seem like a lot, but neither have yet been able to bring justice to the father of a bullied autistic boy.
The story of Stuart Chaifetz’s 10-year-old son, Akian, and the relentless abuse he suffered at the hands of his teacher and aide have gone viral, but haven’t yet changed the status quo.
While Horace Mann Elementary School has let go of Akian’s former aide, his former teacher, Kelly Altenburg, has neither been fired or reprimanded. According to MSNBC, the teacher’s union that represents Altenburg said she was “basically exonerated.” According to the district superintendent, the matter is closed while the investigation remains ongoing.
Chaifetz originally publicized his YouTube video because he was frustrated by the school’s inaction in dealing with Altenburg. He did not release the teacher’s name, hoping she’d come forward herself with an apology for his son.
Since that hasn’t happened, Chaifetz is taking things one step further. In a statement he released earlier today, Chaifetz said he is cooperating with a Cherry Hill School District police investigation.
“When I produced that video all I had hoped for was an apology from the classroom staff, something I could offer my child on the day he was ready to face what had happened to him,” Chaifetz wrote. “Now it appears I may be able to offer him something more: justice.”
Chaifetz said that, in order to assist the investigation, he will not be releasing new clips from the wire recording. Instead, he will answer questions about the clips and the situation in general during a press conference at his home on May 3.
He also plans to spend his time writing to “every member of the New Jersey State Legislature:”
“[I will] tell them that not only is reform desperately needed, but that they have more than forty-three thousand people on our Facebook page, and one-hundred-fifty-three thousand people who have signed our [Change.org] petition ready to help create a fair and equitable system that protects good teachers, but gets rid of the bad ones.”
Is the sheer number of Chaifetz’s supporters enough to convince New Jersey lawmakers to reconsider the state’s strict teacher union regulations? It may well be the case. Just a few minutes ago, Chaifetz broke the news on his Facebook page that legislation was in progress:
“Going to make some news right here: I just received a call from New Jersey State Senator Diane Allen’s office. She is working on new legislation for this issue!” he wrote.
Photo via YouTube
Lauren Rae Orsini is a web culture reporter who specializes in anime and the business of fandom. Her work has been published by Forbes and Business Insider.