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?