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Union: Teacher Eager to Tell Her Side of Video of Autistic Boy Struggling to Free Himself from Chair

The teacher accused of videotaping and then circulating video of 10-year-old said through the Michigan Education Association that she wants to “provide context and truth about the situation.”

This screenshot of the video, which has been posted on YouTube, reportedly shot by a Michigan teacher shows a 10-year-old boy with autism wiping tears as he tried to free himself from a classroom chair.
This screenshot of the video, which has been posted on YouTube, reportedly shot by a Michigan teacher shows a 10-year-old boy with autism wiping tears as he tried to free himself from a classroom chair.

The Michigan teachers union says there’s more to the story of a Michigan teacher who was placed on administrative leave after videotaping an autistic student stuck in a classroom chair and struggling to free himself.

The Michigan Education Association said in a statement Friday that the teacher, Nicole McVey, looks forward to telling her story in a hearing to “provide context and truth about the situation,” the Detroit Free Press reports.

McVey has been placed on administrative leave by the school district and is in danger of being fired, the newspaper said.

The video was shot  in November at Oaktree Elementary School in the Genesee County town of Goodrich, located southeast of Flint. The family  of the 10-year-old boy, who has Asperger’s syndrome, a milder form of autism, released it to a television station this week.

The 53-second video shows the boy facing the ground, his torso stuck through the open back of the school district chair. A woman identified as McVey by attorney Patrick Greenfelder, who represents the boy’s family, asks: “How did you get in that situation? Do you want to get Tasered?”

Greenfelder said both McVey and principal Michael Ellis, who has since resigned, taunted the child; that McVey, Ellis and a paraprofessional circulated the video via email; and that McVey showed the video in her classroom.

A bullying liaison at the school sent the video to the superintendent, who shared it to the boy’s parents.

In a letter to Greenfelder, the boy’s mother said watching the video of her son trapped in the chair – a condition they believe may have lasted for 10 or 15 minutes – was “one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.”

“I felt incredibly helpless watching my son sobbing on the screen. … He was pleading for help, and they just continued to watch im and almost taunt him with their lack of compassion.”

McVey has vowed to fight her possible firing, which the school district is handling through the tenure process. An upcoming hearing will give McVey a chance to tell her side of the story, Michigan Education Association spokeswoman Abby Zarimba said in a statement released Friday.

But Greenfelder said the “video speaks for itself” and “clearly shows a lack of compassion” for the boy.

DISCUSS: What do you think? Should the teacher be fired? Or is the better, more effective recourse?

Sherry Spehar March 03, 2014 at 01:23 PM
I agree with Michelle.The teacher has been removed from the school so she cant cause any more harm.Let's wait and see what takes place after all sides are heard.I dont like a mob mentality.We are only being told what the media has found out.Let's take the high road for now and if need be fire the teacher at the end.
B. Dub March 03, 2014 at 03:41 PM
Denise Knapp's comments are dead-on except... asking him if he wanted to be tasered. There may be reasons for video taping a child in this situation. She may have been directed to, etc. etc. etc. Even asking how he got in that situation might (MIGHT) be appropriate. But I still can't find a reason to ask if he wanted to be tasered. Oh, and Ellen Schram- Nysen, where is this hole that was "literally" ripped through you. I hope you sought medical attention.
blue March 03, 2014 at 05:44 PM
Was the room designed for autistic children? That chair has a very large opening in the back. A Montessori school designs the classroom with the utmost importance. In fact, teachers don't even have a desk in the classroom. A while back I remember seeing fifth graders sitting on Swiss balls in their classroom. What's wrong with figuring out the logistics before the beginning of the school year.
Sherry Spehar March 03, 2014 at 05:57 PM
I like Blue's comments.If this child was frustrated like this,he probably would have found another way to act out.It takes an exceptional teacher to deal with autistic children.I am sure that I am not patient enough to do this.The original teacher should have called for backup if she felt overwhelmed .
Bob March 10, 2014 at 01:26 PM
Dispicable...."teacher" has no empathy...should choose another profession.....terrible....

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