“Hit him if he does that.”

Today’s guest author is Alexandra Stack. Alexandra is a mother of a nonspeaking son and an advocate in New York. Alexandra first became passionate about Cameras in Special Education Classrooms years ago. Alexandra is a member of the Keeping Students Safe – NY group which is organizing to promote bills that will protect disabled students in NY and nationally.

As I recounted in an earlier article, my autistic, non-verbal son was mistreated by his teacher and aides when he was in the first grade. When we reported this the district conducted a faux “investigation” and found “no wrongdoing.” They did, however, offer us an out-of-district placement into what was reputed to be the best special education program in the area. 

It was hard to bring my son to school again. He had dutifully gone to school each day, unable to tell me about what he was being subjected to, never resisting or complaining. But the day he was to start at the new school the effect the experience had had on him was plain: he trembled from head to foot. His legs shook so hard I couldn’t get his socks on. I said over and over, “This is the NEW school, sweetie. The NEW school. It’s safe. I promise.”

I wanted to keep him home forever, but I knew I couldn’t, and as my husband said, “We have to trust someone sometime, don’t we?”

I won’t tell you about the couple of good years we had. I won’t tell you, because children are supposed to learn at school, and they’re supposed to be safe. That shouldn’t be remarkable.

I will tell you instead about the way it ended. It ended like this:

One day I am sitting on the couch with my son, flipping through the photos on his iPad. I notice something unusual. It is a video, and it is stamped with the location of the school. I hit play.

An image from the recording

It appeared to be some sort of break period. The teacher was out of the room. My son appeared to have left his iPad on a table and was playing quietly across the room. Another student must have picked up the iPad and accidentally hit the recorder. From there the aides start freaking out and yelling at this kid to put it down. Then there appears to be a physical struggle and the aides are all yelling, “Put that down,” and the iPad is swinging wildly, showing just these shots of the room. It is a bit of a cacophony, and then at the very end, an aide says, 

“Hit him if he does that.”

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