Students vote autistic 5-year-old out of class by Sandy Maple May 27th 2008 5:05PM It sounds like somebody has been watching too many reality shows. Namely, Wendy Portillo, a teacher at Morningside Elementary in Port St. Lucie, Florida. She turned her kindergarten classroom into a cruel version of Survivor by allowing her students to vote a fellow student out of the class. The banished child is 5-year-old Alex Barton, who is in the process of being diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, a high-functioning type of autism. Not uncommon to his condition, Alex has had some behavioral issues and as a result, spends a lot of time in the principal's office. After returning to Ms. Portillo's classroom after a recent visit with the principal, his teacher decided to punish him with humiliation. She had Alex stand at the front of the class while his fellow students listed off what they didn't like about him. After informing him that they found him "disgusting" and "annoying", the class was instructed to vote on whether or not Alex should be allowed to stay in the class. By a 14 to 2 margin, they voted him out. Alex hasn't been back to school since then, but his mother, Melissa Barton, says he is still reliving the incident. The night after it happened, she says she overheard him saying "I'm not special" over and over. Incredibly, an investigation by the state attorney's office concluded that Alex's treatment did not meet the criteria for emotional child abuse and no charges have been filed. I don't know what the criteria for emotional abuse is, but if this doesn't meet it, what does? My heart breaks for all the children involved in this incident. IMO - The teacher needs to be fired and all of those students need sensitivity training. This is worse than Lord of the Flies because there was an allegedly trained educator heading this grotesque pack mentality. The flip side of the coin is that elementary education majors are not taught to deal with anything but "normal" students. Regardless of thiss ract she was WRONG!