PORT ST. LUCIE — Melissa Barton said she is considering legal action after her son's kindergarten teacher led his classmates to vote him out of class.
After each classmate was allowed to say what they didn't like about Barton's 5-year-old son, Alex, his Morningside Elementary teacher said they were going to take a vote, Barton said.
By a 14 to 2 margin, the class voted him out of the class.
Barton said her son is in the process of being diagnosed with Aspberger's, a type of high-functioning autism. Alex began the testing process in February for an official diagnosis under the suggestion of Morningside Principal Marsha Cully.
Alex has had disciplinary issues because of his disabilities, Barton said. The school and district has met with Barton and her son to create an individual education plan, she said. His teacher, Wendy Portillo, has attended these meetings, she said.
Barton said after the vote, Alex's teacher asked him how he felt.
"He said, 'I feel sad,'" she said.
Alex left the classroom and spent the rest of the day in the nurse's office, she said.
Barton said when she came to pick up her son at the school on Wednesday, he was leaving the nurse's office.
"He was shaken up," she said. Barton said the nurse told her to talk with the child's teacher, who told her what happened.
Alex hasn't been back to school since then, and Barton said he won't be returning. He starts screaming when she brings him with her to drop off his sibling at school.
Thursday night, his mother heard him saying "I'm not special."
Barton said Alex is reliving the incident.
They said he was "disgusting" and "annoying," Barton said.
"He was incredibly upset," Barton said. "The only friend he has ever made in his life was forced to do this."
The child's mother filed a complaint with the school resource officer, who investigated the matter, said Port St. Lucie spokeswoman Michelle Steele said. But the state attorney's office concluded the matter did not meet the criteria for emotional child abuse, so no criminal charges will be filed, Steele said. Port St. Lucie Police is no longer investigating, but is documenting the complaint, she said.
Steele said the teacher confirmed the incident did occur.
St. Lucie School's spokeswoman Janice Karst said the district is investigating the incident, but could not make any further comment.
Vern Melvin, Department of Children and Families circuit administrator, confirmed the agency is investigating an allegation of abuse at Morningside, but said he could not elaborate.By Colleen Wixon
Originally published 01:50 p.m., May 23, 2008
Updated 04:30 p.m., May 23, 2008