Stuart Chaifetz: "I Can Offer My Son Justice"
The father of 10-year-old Akian Chaifetz, an autistic boy from Cherry Hill, will hold a press conference tomorrow to discuss what has become a national and legal matter.
The following statement was issued by Stuart Chaifetz to Collingswood Patch today. We are reprinting it here without alteration.
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A little over one week ago, I posted a video on YouTube which was, at its core, a public statement of my love for my son. Little did I realize, or could ever dream, that people from around the world would hear my son’s story and open their hearts to him. I am truly overwhelmed and grateful beyond measure.
When I produced that video all I had hoped for was an apology from the classroom staff, something I could offer my child on the day he was ready to face what had happened to him. Now it appears I may be able to offer him something more: justice.
Yesterday I was contacted by a representative of the Cherry Hill School District. After a long and in-depth discussion, I was assured that the District is dealing with this issue with the seriousness it deserves. After careful consideration, I have decided to allow them the space they need to do that.
I had intended to release more audio clips detailing what happened in my son’s former classroom, but once I realized that by doing that I could contaminate and potentially derail the investigation, I made the decision not to.
However - If at any time I feel the district is not following through in a responsible manner, then I reserve the right to release further information to the media. I doubt anyone who has seen my video would think I would do otherwise.
I did not intentionally mean to mislead anyone about the release of the new audio. This is, however, one of those times when circumstances change and a difficult choice needed to be made. I am trying to do the right thing for what I hope is a just outcome to this ordeal, and I hope everyone understands that.
While I will give the District the time to investigate, I shall not be idle. My life has been forever altered by the heartbreaking stories of abuse and bullying that have been sent to me by the thousands. From across the nation I have heard from current students and former students. Some have special needs, many letters were from parents with special needs children. From the sheer volume of it all, the only conclusion I can make is that bullying is a bane of catastrophic proportions.
I am not anti-teacher in any way. I respect teachers. But I am mystified and dispirited by the current system of tenure that makes it so difficult to fire a bad teacher, or gives them long periods of paid leave while the system grinds to a crawl.
Therefore I shall reach out to every member of the New Jersey State legislature and tell them that not only is reform desperately needed, but that they have more than forty-three thousand people on our Facebook page, and one-hundred-fifty-three thousand people who have signed our petition ready to help create a fair and equitable system that protects good teachers, but gets rid of the bad ones.
To the teacher's union I say this: I am not your foe. I am not here to be the weapon that destroys what you have fought hard for. I only seek moderate and reasonable change.
When four million people spend seventeen minutes watching a father tell the story of what happened to his son in school, then that should be a clarion call that things must change.