Cherry Hill Dad: 'Bully' Still Works in My District
Stuart Chaifetz claims that his son Akian's special-needs teacher hasn't been terminated despite a statement from the Cherry Hill school district that swift, appropriate action was taken.
Rather than firing Kelly Altenburg, the special education teacher in whose class 10-year-old Akian Chaifetz allegedly was called "a bastard" by his caretakers, Cherry Hill Public Schools have apparently instead transferred her within the district.
Stuart Chaifetz, Akian's dad, makes this claim in a second YouTube video posted about the reported abuse his son suffered in his special needs classroom.
In February, Chaifetz sent his son to school with a covert recording device to capture evidence of his harassment from classroom teachers. In an inital YouTube video that has drawn worldwide attention and wide rebuke, he plays audio samples of the alleged abuse.
Yesterday, Cherry Hill Public Schools officials insisted that those people heard in the recording no longer work in the district. But in a follow-up video today, Chaifetz demonstrates that Altenburg may be reached through the Cherry Hill High School West phone system.
Chaifetz says this discovery contradicts a statement released yesterday by Superintendent Maureen Reusche that "the individuals who are heard on the recording raising their voices and inappropriately addressing children no longer work in the district and have not since shortly after we received the copy of the recording.”
Janet Cohen, a spokesperson for Reusche, told Patch, "the statement is accurate, and we have no further comment at this time."
Whether the district is trying to say that Altenburg may not have been heard directly abusing his son, Chaifetz says, she contributed to an environment in which it happened.
"She was responsible for the protection of my son and she betrayed him," Chaifetz says in a follow-up video. He then dials into the school phone directory to play Altenburg's voicemail greeting for the camera.
Chaifetz's story caught fire this week with a previous, 17-minute YouTube video in which he excerpts highlights of alleged bullying from the six-and-a-half hours of audio he claims to have gathered by sending his son to school with a secret recording device.
The tactic is being applied by other concerned parents of autistic children nationwide who suspect their children may be at risk. Autism renders Akian and many of his classmates mostly non-communicative, a vulnerability Chaifetz alleges teachers exploited to hold inappropriate and even abusive classroom conversations in front of him.
"On the morning of Friday, Feb. 17, 2012, I wired my son and sent him to school," Stuart Chaifetz writes on his website Teacher/Bully. "That night, when I listened to the audio, my life changed forever."
Voices in the recording, which include that of resource teacher Jodi Sgouros, tell 10-year-old Akian that he is "such a bastard," order him to "shut [his] mouth," and antagonize him by telling him "no" when he asks for reassurances that he will see his father soon.
Chaifetz says he has been flooded with stories from people who tell their own tales of abuse or bullying. He says he is available to teach parents how to affix a wire to their kids if they suspect their children may be at risk.
"Protect your child. Don't let it happen," Chaifetz urges parents. "If your instinct is telling you something is wrong, follow your instinct."