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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?

Tom B March 01, 2014 at 08:09 AM
Unfortunately, technology is causing this to go viral. The teacher made a mistake and should not have filmed this. It happened and should have been dealt with professionally. It was probably funny for the class and was a learning experience that went too far. She will most likely be fired, and the principal has already resigned. Unfortunate for the small school district of Goodrich that is getting this adverse publicity. Let's move on and learn from this experience. In my 32 years of teaching, I have experienced EVERYTHING and fortunately, nothing happened that would place me in jeopardy. I would still like to hear the teacher's side.
Kevin Harrington March 01, 2014 at 08:15 AM
Just the act alone of the teacher recording the boy and sending the video around makes her guilty. For what reason did you send the video around? Research?! She thought it was funny period!
stephanie pytlowanyj March 01, 2014 at 08:45 AM
The teacher should be fired. The principle did the right thing and resigned. My daughter has a degree in special needs and has told me multiple times that teachers in regular ed need more training in special needs children; this situation is proof that her belief is correct.
Anne Young March 01, 2014 at 10:13 AM
I am a retired teacher. I was asked to restrain an autistic 3 year old boy years ago and refused. My superior was nasty to me the rest of the school year after which I quit.
Bruce Sucher March 01, 2014 at 10:18 AM
This teacher should be fired immediately. The public needs to be aware that unions protect bad teachers, teachers who can't teach and whoever is recognized in the particular union because its all about the dues and not the kids. This is not a mistake by a bad teacher but should cause a review of her certification. The action s of the union are typical and deplorable. Its good to be a right to work state and to weed out the bad members of this union.
stephanie pytlowanyj March 01, 2014 at 10:19 AM
Anne, apparently teachers are being taught to restrain out of control children. If you felt it wasn't appropriate to do so, I commend you.
Anne Young March 01, 2014 at 11:06 AM
Definitely fired!
anne powder March 01, 2014 at 05:13 PM
There is NOTHING that would justify the videotaping, the taunting or the publicizing. If this school doesn't act decisively and firmly, there will no boundaries. There is no "side" to hear.
Laura Jones March 01, 2014 at 05:13 PM
I agree there is no excuse for either taking or circulating the video. I wont even start on the tasering comment. Since many of you, like me, are parents of ASD kids - are you aware of the new rules changes being proposed for Special Education? The OSE is calling it a minor rules change, but it is not. It is a MAJOR overhaul of special education in Michigan. Please take a minute to read and consider signing the petition to stop this change. http://www.change.org/petitions/rick-snyder-withdraw-the-proposed-rule-changes-to-special-education-immediately-marse?recruiter=12378320&utm_campaign=twitter_link&utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=share_petition
Angi Simon March 01, 2014 at 10:07 PM
Yes, because I am sure there must be some completely legitimate reason for her actions that she can easily justify by simply telling her side of the story. Why doesn't this woman understand that there is nothing she can say to justify this type of action? It doesn't matter if this child had autism or not. It doesn't matter if this was the first time he had ever gotten stuck or if it was the fifteenth time it happened. As much as she may want to tell her side of the story, there is nothing she can say to justify her actions. My nephew even called the school to thank them for firing this teacher, and I think more of us should do that.
Sherry Spehar March 02, 2014 at 06:06 AM
As despicable as these actions are,I want to hear both sides,before I make my judgment.In America, one is innocent until proven guilty.After all the info is given, a decision will be made.A rush to judgment does no good.Due process is what is needed.
Denise Knapp March 02, 2014 at 07:40 AM
If this is a repeated behavior by the student, and not an isolated incident, then we need to hear her side. The video was circulated through the chain of command in the school district. Was it possibly to show that the placement of this child in the classroom he was in was inappropriate? Was it used to show students that getting yourself into a situation was one you may need to get yourself out of as well. People are quick to jump to conclusions. Remember, it is the parents who released the video to the media, not the teacher.
Laura Becker March 02, 2014 at 08:25 AM
Indefensible. Laura J. I could not find the link to the petition you referred to in the earlier comment regarding changes to special education.
Ed Callahan March 02, 2014 at 09:29 AM
I have seen a number of comments that state that "they want to hear both sides of the story before making judgment", this teacher videotaped the incident, taunted the child, then shared the video with students and friends, what more do you need to hear or see? Are you so oblivious and caught up in your own rhetoric that you cannot see this woman basically tortured this child. This teacher should be FIRED and never allowed to teach again. She has demonstrated that she is heartless and cruel and cannot be trusted with children. My son attends a Royal Oak public school and I would never expect any of the staff to ever be so unprofessional and cruel. Stories like this remind me of how grateful I am for the professionalism and dedication that the teachers and staff of the Royal Oak School District have demonstrated over the course of the past year with my son. I cannot thank you enough.
Sherry Spehar March 02, 2014 at 09:48 AM
It is not rhetoric to allow someone to present their side of the story.What is your rush,Ed?
Thomas March 02, 2014 at 10:26 AM
Does it really matter what "her side" is? She videotaped and taunted the boy, and then shared it. As far as I'm concerned, there can be no "other side" The bottom line is, I would bet that there is not one person that has commented above, that would want this person as their child's teacher.
Sherry Spehar March 02, 2014 at 10:29 AM
Yes.No.
Richard Cranium March 02, 2014 at 12:34 PM
The fact that the teacher was video recording the child and not attempting to calm or help the kid should be more than enough. The rest just piles on making it worse. Hearing the other side of why you did something totally unprofessional can only hurt. This was a school not an episode of an upcoming Jackass movie.
blue March 02, 2014 at 04:26 PM
Are we surprised Greenfelder turned the video over to the media? Shouldn't we be? Why wasn't this dealt with in the school district superintendent's office? The TV program "America's Funniest Video" encourages this type of entertainment. Why would anyone want their child to endure more humiliation?
Sherry Spehar March 02, 2014 at 04:58 PM
Perhaps,the incident was being slow walked.
Nickel March 02, 2014 at 08:10 PM
what disgusts me the most is the mother being so upset that the teacher sent this video to co-workers, yet, this moron of a mother and her attorney have made this video go viral. Mom is more appalling then this teacher since she wanted the world to see the situation her son was in. Most people would never have viewed this video if not for the money grabbing mom and her attorney
Sherry Spehar March 02, 2014 at 08:40 PM
Maybe the school was trying to cover up the incident.The mother was hurt by what was done to her son and outraged that so many of the educators knew and still nothing was being done about it until the the educator that monitored bullying exposed this.I think that the mother got an attorney for this not to gain money but to make sure justice was done.
Nickel March 03, 2014 at 05:40 AM
Sherry, The teacher had been fired long before this video became viral, The attorney even stated that the family wanted the public to see the video because the teacher was getting so much support! No cover up!
blue March 03, 2014 at 06:16 AM
All teachers who viewed the video and did nothing are equally responsible. The abuse of children in a California school led to the firing of everyone in the elementary school. This cannot be tolerated amongst people we entrust our children with. ___________________ "No teacher is better than direct experience." What was the teacher thinking who videotaped episode in front of other classmates? This reminds me of a teacher (where I attended elementary school) who would discipline a child by shaking them until they cried. After the physical and emotional abuse she would reward them with a piece of candy. This type of torture continued and other teachers allowed the abuse to continue.
michelle March 03, 2014 at 10:25 AM
Not excusing the teacher but I had heard that the parents or someone had asked her to video his episodes so they could see how he acted out in class. I also heard she only distributed within the school (not sure what policy there is) and wasn't sending it out to her friends. This is just what I heard... I do think the teacher handled this poorly and from what little I have seen I do think she should probably be fired but maybe there is more to the story and I am interested in seeing what she has to say for herself.
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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