Public School Teacher, Students Vote Autistic Kid Out of Class


Colleen Wixon
TCPalm
May 26, 2008

PORT ST. LUCIE — Melissa Barton said she is considering legal action after her son’s kindergarten teacher led his classmates to vote him out of class.

After each classmate was allowed to say what they didn’t like about Barton’s 5-year-old son, Alex, his Morningside Elementary teacher Wendy Portillo said they were going to take a vote, Barton said.

By a 14 to 2 margin, the students voted Alex — who is in the process of being diagnosed with autism — out of the class.

Melissa Barton filed a complaint with Morningside’s school resource officer, who investigated the matter, Port St. Lucie Department spokeswoman Michelle Steele said. But the state attorney’s office concluded the matter did not meet the criteria for emotional child abuse, so no criminal charges will be filed, Steele said.

Port St. Lucie Police no longer are investigating, but police officials are documenting the complaint, she said.

Steele said the teacher confirmed the incident took place.

Portillo could not be reached for comment Friday.

Steele said the boy had been sent to the principal’s office because of disciplinary issues. When he returned, Portillo made him go to the front of the room as a form of punishment, she said.

Barton said her son is in the process of being diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a type of high-functioning autism. Alex began the testing process in February at the suggestion of Morningside Principal Marcia Cully.

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