Teacher records herself, principal teasing autistic child while class laughs

Oaktree Elementary SchoolNeed evidence to support the argument that tenure  for schoolteachers should be abolished? Then try this: A Michigan teacher who bullied an autistic child stuck in a chair while his classmates looked on and laughed is on paid administrative leave while the school board grapples with the fact that her tenure makes firing her difficult.

Nicole McVey, the teacher at Oaktree Elementary School, in Goodrich, inexplicably recorded plight of an unnamed 10-year-old boy who suffers from Asperger’s syndrome. The recording, which is now evidence in the case to unseat her, also shows her boss, Principal Michael Ellis, teasing the child.

In a prepared statement about the incident, Goodrich Schools Superintendent Scott Bogner wrote:

In the event the behaviors are clearly not in keeping with the policies of the district, raise concerns about professional judgement [sic] or concerns regarding activities associated with the children in a particular classroom, then and only then would the board engage in a decision to file tenure charges.

According to ABC affiliate WJRT, Ellis has since resigned and the board has indeed moed forward with “tenure charges” against McVey.

In the video, which shows the pupil struggling to free himself, you can hear McVey mocking the child and asking if he wants “to be Tasered.” Later Ellis can be overheard saying, “It’s not really an emergency in their book.”

McVey bizarrely emailed the incriminating video to co-workers who ended up forwarding it to school administrators.

Patrick Greenfelder, attorney for the boy’s family, laments:

You hear of bullying by other students and other kids in class … but I have never had a case with teachers and administrators bullying.

But not everyone in the community is convinced that McVey acted inappropriately or should be forced out. Leanne Ruediger, a substitute teacher, told WJRT, “I have learned a lot from her and I support her fully. I believe that Nicole’s intentions and motivations are always in the right place.” Ruediger, whose own children attend the school, has not seen the video.

Ditto for Heather Zarembski, another parent, who said, “There’s no way that Mrs. McVey ever bullied any child in that class.”

A third parent, Erin Raether, explained:

A “Taser” means to take your two pointer fingers in a tickling motion in the side in order to distract or get a kid to focus on something else rather than a situation that’s dangerous to him or to other people.

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