Video shows boy stuck in classroom chair - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Video shows boy stuck in classroom chair

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GOODRICH (WJRT) -

(02/24/14) - It's a controversy that divided the community of Goodrich.

A student is stuck in a chair. His teacher records it on a cell phone.

A principal has resigned and the teacher is fighting for her job.

It's video few people have seen.

Now, his parents say they want the public to see it to understand what happened.

This all happened in November.

A 10-yearold student with Asperger Syndrome, a form of Autism, got stuck in a chair at Oaktree Elementary. The teacher took video of the boy.

The video was given to ABC12 by Patrick Greenfelder, the attorney for the parents of the boy. It was taken by fifth grade teacher Nicole McVey. The boy stuck in the chair is one of her students. He got caught in it while playing during inside recess. We are not revealing his identity.

"You hear of bullying by other students and other kids in class, I have had cases like this before, but I have never had a case with teachers and administrators bullying," Greenfelder said.

It's not clear why McVey documented the incident on a cell phone. Her attorney has advised her not to comment about the incident.

Greenfelder says Principal Michael Ellis was in the classroom, too. When McVey tells the student a maintenance worker is on the way to help, Ellis makes a comment.

"It's not really an emergency in their book," Ellis is heard saying.

A short time after that statement, the video ends.

The maintenance worker removed the child from the chair. Greenfelder says McVey then showed the video to the class and Ellis emailed it to other staff members.

After administrators saw the video, the Goodrich School Board voted to accept the resignation of Ellis and bring tenure charges against McVey, in an attempt to fire her. In a prepared statement, superintendent Scott Bogner writes, "In the event the behaviors are clearly not in keeping with the policies of the district, raise concerns about professional judgement 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."

That decision has upset some in the Goodrich school community.

"I know she is supported by the community, the other teachers, the staff, I have learned a lot from her and I support her fully," said Leanne Ruediger, a substitute teacher.

Both Ruediger's children attend school in Goodrich. Like many others in the community, Ruediger hasn't seen the video.

"I believe that Nicole's intentions and motivations are always in the right place," she said.

Statements made in support of McVey have upset the boy's parents. They declined an on camera interview, but in statement to ABC12, they say their son was stuck in the chair for 10-15 minutes and that he "is now labeled as a disturbance to the other "normal" children in his class. Our son did nothing wrong, but yet this seems to be another case of blaming the victim." 

The student still attends Oaktree Elementary.

"They are concerned about the status of this teacher as it goes through the whole tenure process," Greenfelder said.

The parents' attorney says they are still considering a lawsuit.

McVey is awaiting a tenure hearing in hopes of keeping her job.

Monday night, that passionate debate continued at another school board meeting.

Parents tell us that part of that video is an inside joke.

"There's no way that Mrs. McVey ever bullied any child in that class," said Heather Zarembski, a parent at Goodrich schools.

Home-made signs supporting McVey were hung around the board meeting room.

Her supporters say one particular part of the video is being misconstrued - the part where she asks the boy if he wants to be tasered.

Parents who have kids in McVey's classroom say taser means something different for them.

"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," said Goodrich parent Erin Raether.

In an earlier written statement, the child's parents declined an on-camera interview but said they were not happy with the use of the word taser - regardless of what it meant, especially while the child was in obvious distress.

During public comment, one man called for more special needs education in the district. He says it's an ongoing problem in Goodrich.

We tried to talk to the board president. He said he can't comment because this is a personnel issue.

The board voted to support these tenure charges - it now goes to the tenure commission.

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