Teacher Videotapes And Teases Autistic Child Stuck In Chair

'Do you want to get tasered?' she asked him

The video of a Michigan teacher and principal allegedly teasing an autistic fifth grade student with his head stuck through the open back of a chair for at least ten minutes has gone viral, reigniting a controversy in central Michigan, reported WNEM-TV. The teacher at the Oaktree Elementary school in Goodrich, Mich. supposedly took the video on her cell phone.

Principal Michael Ellis resigned after the event originally came to light last year. The teacher, Nicole McVey, remains on paid administrative leave pending a tenure hearing. The video set off outrage, according to the Detroit Free Press, but also split the community. Many parents support McVey.

The incident occurred last November when the unnamed child, who reportedly has Asperger syndrome, a milder form of autism, put his head, arms, and shoulders through the chair back and then couldn't get himself out.

"How did you get in that situation?" the teacher asked him as the boy wiped tears from his eyes, according to the Free Press report. She said that getting him out would require help from the maintenance department and that they were waiting for someone to come. "If you wouldn't have put your head in there to begin with, we wouldn't be in this situation," she allegedly said.

Ellis then allegedly said, "It's really not an emergency in their [the maintenance department's] book." A lawyer for the boy's parents said that he believed the child was trapped for between 10 and 15 minutes.

At one point, according to WNEM, the teacher is heard saying, "Do you want to get tasered?" The boy's mother, speaking to the Free Press, said that McVey sometimes uses the term as a joke, but that "this was no time to be joking around."

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, part of the National Institutes of Health, children with Asperger "are often awkward and poorly coordinated." Two "core features" are "social and communication deficits" and "fixated interests and repetitive behaviors."

When asked to comment on the situation, School Superintendent Scott Bogner sent the following statement to WNEM:

Under Michigan's Tenure Law that teacher has a right to a private hearing of any charges against her. The District is obligated to respect that right and will not discuss specifics of this case."

According to the WNEM report, the "community has rallied behind the teacher without seeing this video." At a recent school board meeting, some parents continued their public support.

In interviews with the station, one parent, Erin Raether, called the teacher "very compassionate." Another, Jennifer Senish, said, "She loves the children. She is a very good teacher. She would never jeopardize or bully anyone." A third parent, Heather Zarembski, said, "And there was no incident whatsoever where that teacher bullied that student. Yes, she had a sense of humor and she tried to make light of the situation."

After the video was released, some parents still supported the teacher in separate interviews with WNEM, saying that McVey wasn't trying to be mean. Another parent who was shown the video said that perhaps the teacher was trying to get the student to think about his actions first, but wondered "if [the teacher] was sensitive to maybe the physical and other problems that maybe the boy has and she should have been more sensitive to that."

The parents are considering a lawsuit but will wait to see the results of the tenure hearing.

As seen in a letter from the school district in the WNEM video, its motto is "A tradition of pride and educational excellence."


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Søren Roe

You guys don't understand what autism feels like, especially Aspergers Syndrome, which I have.

It feels confusing, because everything you hear you misinterpret (IE in 3rd grade my friend, who was one of those kids who chews on pencils, asked me to try it. I bit the tip of the pencil, and ended up swallowing the lead.)

also, everything you say is taken the wrong way.
lately me and my parents have been getting into arguments, because they misinterpret my words. stuff like if i'm using a sarcastic or whining tone of voice, i don't notice, much less mean to.

this entire comment could sound insulting, or racist and i wouldn't know.

i'm with the kid. autism makes people do odd, stupid things, the kind of things you look back on and think "what was i thinking?", but can't help it.

i know it sounds stupid, but i can't help it, learn from it, or stop it.
i blurt stupid things out before i can stop myself. i accidentally insult people, before thinking about what i've said. a video wil not, has not, and can not change it, because autism makes it so you can learn from your mistakes, but you can't keep them from happening, somehow. like you forget all the consequences, for just a moment. then you fall out f this daydream-trance thing and realize what you've done. but you always are too late to stop it, what's done is done.

it sucks.
so understand punishment is not the answer to this thing. teachers need to stop autistic kids in the act, because they can't stop themselves.

please get it, please. the teacher shouldn't have made that video, and humiliated him further by drawing attention to it. she should of got him out of there immediately, and discreetly. no one deserves that kind of humiliation.

November 18 2014 at 4:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

All of the people complaining on the teachers behalf have obviously never dealt with or had an Autistic child. @Teacher1… the boy acts out like a fool because he is autistic you idiot. i know because my son is autistic and it is never that easy to deal with them. Your mentality in this situation is beyond wrong… i would have sued also but not because of the money. Anyone who knows anything bout corporal punishment and Autistic children know that IT DOES NOT WORK!!! I seriously hope you are not a teacher.

May 11 2014 at 12:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This boy acts out like a fool, to which his teacher (who has to endure his antics constantly), takes out her cell phone to film it as proof of how this boy disrupts her teaching. Parents of the fool will most likely be looking for a big payday lawsuit, courtesy of their son who is never disciplined, and makes a point to make his teacher's workday a living hell because his parents believe autistic children cannot help but act like an utter fool.
They need to bring back corporal punishment to all public schools, and any student who chooses to disrupt the classroom like this should be gently dislodged from the chair he stuck himself in for laughs, taken to the principal's office, and then paddled immediately. The likelihood of students purposely getting themselves stuck in chairs will dramatically diminish.

May 03 2014 at 4:43 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

This is a child, period! I get so sick and tired of teachers and administrators who find stuff like this amusing. Regardless of his "classification", they should have helped him and then asked if he learned why he should not have gotten himself in that predicament. They are promoting being a bully.

March 21 2014 at 2:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

she didn't sound like she was kidding to ME!!!!!!! sounds like she may actually does taze the children, like he should know what that was!!! when my normal child was 11, she didn't know what tazing was!!! i saw no sense of humor about it at all!!!!!!

March 06 2014 at 6:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Hubert and Susan

What is an Autistic kid doing in a Main stream classroom setting where the teacher doesnt have the skills to deal with their special situation?

March 06 2014 at 3:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Sue the chair company!

Those openings are clearly too larger, like the slats in old baby cribs.

March 06 2014 at 2:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I know that the immediate reaction when something happens, is to sue an organization, however; everytime you sue something like "the school district," you are limiting their effectiveness in educating the students. This move tightens the budget, which was meant to purchase books and computers, pay teachers, maintenance, ect... I would simply suggest looking at the impact down that road before going in that direction.

March 06 2014 at 1:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My reaction, to that situation, would have been to ask for a butter knife and/or screwdriver to be sent to the room. I would have had him out in a couple of minutes. No fears/ no tears. Even kids without physical/mental/emotional conditions will get themselves trapped in strange places.

March 06 2014 at 1:38 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

HATE. UNBRIDLED, RIDICULOUS, STUPID, DUMB, HATE. Strange how we always do to others what we DON'T or WON'T do to ourselves. That's the progression of our culture folks. keep watching the news. it's get's worse. REALLY.

March 06 2014 at 1:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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