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."

Erik Sherman

Erik Sherman


Erik Sherman is a widely published writer and editor who also does select ghosting and corporate work. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikSherman

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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 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
Rock Ranger

Unprofessional to ridicule a child with Asperger's. Her tenure deserves to be terminated.

March 06 2014 at 1:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Nicole McVey should be thoroughly ashamed of herself. If you click on the link "video set off outrage", you will hear from a different special needs teacher who gives other examples of what SHOULD have been done in this situation!
Matt 25:40-46 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers & sisters of mine, you did for me.’
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry & you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty & you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger & you did not invite me in, I needed clothes & you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison & you did not look after me.’
“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

March 06 2014 at 11:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I did a little more research. Firstly, this kid that some are calling a "brat" did NOT do this during class. It happened during indoor recess. Secondly, the so called taser "joke" involved poking the kid in the ribs on both sides. Supposedly, this is something they do to make a kid refocus his attention...Huh? So let's see, if the kid loses his balance and tips the chair over, he could end up with a broken back or neck and she threatens to do something that could result in him losing his balance? And just how, exactly, does this kid need "refocusing"? BTW, did you know that the teacher replayed the video for the class and also e-mailed it to others?

March 06 2014 at 11:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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