.

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 to Collingswood Patch today. We are reprinting it here without alteration.

As always, stay with Collingswood Patch here as well as on Facebook and Twitter for the latest. New here? Sign up for our email newsletter and breaking news alerts.


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.

john q public May 02, 2012 at 07:07 PM
some one said this a LONG time ago - "The (man) doth protest too much, methinks." come on - "all I wanted was an apology"? really? is there ANY proof that this man had put ANY complaints into the school principal, or the school board? If the school, the school district did nothing what about the state education departments? He didn't call ANY news channels or ANY newspapers? No, he went right to YouTube, right to the drama, right to the lawyers.
Donna Wilson May 02, 2012 at 07:23 PM
If this was my child, I would also go to the biggest public forum, which in this day and age is YouTube. So you're attacking this man's right to protect his child? You must be a teacher or on the School Board. Get your priorities straight before you spout off your idiotic comments. The child's treatment was horrific and that's the only thing that should matter.
john q public May 02, 2012 at 07:36 PM
. No, YOU are an idiot. Now how does that feel? Didn't like it much, huh? Thank you for showing how open-minded you are to free speech, and the oppurtunity to discuss matters in a CIVIL manner. Personally, I have not heard or seen anything that shows he went thru the normal channels of communication to see what was going on. Is this the only autistic child in the classroom? Have any other parents ever complained about this teacher or any of the assistants? How many assistants are in that classroom? No, this guy lawyered up FIRST, and went directly on YT to "claim" all he wanted was a simple apology. Sorry, I don't hire a lawyer before asking for something so simple. BTW - I am NOT an over-paid, whinny, libtard teacher.
john q public May 02, 2012 at 07:38 PM
I almost forgot, my nephew is ALSO autistic, and the FIRST to become an Eagle Scout
Donna Wilson May 02, 2012 at 07:51 PM
So what is your problem? If your child, if you have any, was treated like this wouldn't you be willing to do what it takes to stop the abuse? And what the hell did your last comment have to do with anything? What does it matter how many assistants were there? And if any complaints were filed before? I don't follow your reasoning processes at all. If the school already fired people because of the incidents, doesn't that prove that people were identified by the tape? And you are not civil at all. You are attacking this father because he didn't do what YOU would do.
Matt Skoufalos (Editor) May 02, 2012 at 08:47 PM
Again folks, I am going to remind you to keep the discourse civil on this site. We have a lot of passionate readers with some very strong perspectives, and we are all mature enough to express them without namecalling. JohnQ - Check out the end of this story, in which Mr. Chaifetz forwarded to Patch the last in a chain of several e-mails back and forth with the CH Board of Education: http://collingswood.patch.com/articles/father-of-autistic-boy-told-cherry-hill-schools-i-put-my-faith-in-you The district also confirms that they have been in talks with Mr. Chaifetz prior to his release of the audio footage. Hope this clarifies things.
One road town May 02, 2012 at 09:11 PM
Does Mr. Chaifetz have ties to Collingswood or is there some other Collingswood link that I am missing? Please update me if there is. I am missing the link otherwise. Otherwise this is a typical human interest story that is trying to get some extra mileage on the wrong forum. I have seen too many posts about this disgusting (and media driven) story and not place the Collingswood connection. If this is not pertaining to our town or even with an indirect link, can we please refocus here, thanks :)
Matt Skoufalos (Editor) May 02, 2012 at 10:10 PM
Thanks, one road town. We were actually among the first to break out the news when Mr. Chaifetz's story went up on Reddit, and we are doing our due diligence in keeping up with it. I hear your perspective, however, and we should be back to your regularly scheduled programming once this issue resolves, which it looks like it will do soon. Collingswood Patch is dedicated to Collingswood news, and that's our first priority.
Marsha Solton May 02, 2012 at 11:25 PM
who cares if it isn't a "Collingswood story"....It is a universal story, and we should all be concerned...Whether you have a child (autistic or not)...this child was abused, it is not acceptable, this teacher should be let go, And we should all care !.
One road town May 02, 2012 at 11:48 PM
Marsha, nobody is debating whether we should be concerned or not, so please, mind your business when putting words in my mouth. I am more than capable of speaking on my behalf thank you. As you also ignorantly missed in my comment, I stated it was a disgusting story and am more than aware of the national attention it has gotten. Further, I have family members who are autistic and have friends who have autistic children and could never imagine the trauma that has those in the story have experienced. And the Collingswood Patch has done a great job on reporting on that. My comment was in concern about the repeated stories posted here and as Mr. Skoufalos clearly stated they will subside shortly. SO cram it Marsha with YOUR bullying and internet grandstanding. I simply asked a question about a topic and your comment was totally out of line.
john q public May 03, 2012 at 12:34 PM
I wanted to point out that I have a close family member that has this disorder. I stated my opinion, and YOU called me an idiot. How does that make me the bad guy? Just because my opinion is different than yours I am automatically inferior to you? You must be a lock-step demoncrat
Ken Buck May 03, 2012 at 12:44 PM
It seems very noble of this knight in youtube armor to hold off and give the real authorities time to do a proper investigation, rather than the lynch mob of public opinion. And his honor shows clear that he will still threaten to release more if his demands aren't met! (Wait this sounds like he is doing something else.... Hmmmm.) I'm sure that now, after all the attention and his self made voice, he stands a much better chance of being elected to whatever seat he trys to run for next. I could be an interesting twist to this story... The Collingswood Patch should look into this fathers failed political past and look into how this national created voice will help him plans and agenda in the future.
bloommonet May 03, 2012 at 03:16 PM
Really Ken? I don't think standing up for his son has anything to do with his political agenda! What happened to his son in that classroom is totally unacceptable. I can only hope something like this never happens to my children. I think he went through the proper channels before posting the video. When you want to be heard, public opinion is very important to get things moving. If he is using his son for his future political success then shame on him. But, I believe he is only trying to bring justice to his son.
Nicksson May 03, 2012 at 05:56 PM
hot topic. lot of passion. I think we can all agree that the classroom should never a setting for sarcasm or ridicule at any level, even in jest.
pf May 05, 2012 at 02:18 PM
john q, you really need to get up to speed on this story. Mr Chaifetz has not hired an attorney, does not plan to sue to to seek financial gain and wants BOTH an apology AND dismissal of the teacher. He DID go througgh proper channels and was told by the district that they complied. That was a lie. They simply transferred the teacher and told the public that "none of those involved in this situation remain in our district". When Mr Chaifetz discovered this lie, it was only THEN that he took his story to YouTube. You can do a simple google and read all of this for yourself prior to commenting on issues that you are uninformed about.

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »