Stuart Chaifetz is angry, the father of 10 year old Akian Chaifetz a student at Cherry Hill's Horace Mann Elementary School claims that school staff were caught speaking to the young boy, who is living with autism, in an inappropriate manner. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer
Stuart Chaifetz, an animal rights activist and former candidate for school board sent his son to school with a recording device on February 17th and when his son returned from school, and he listened to the recording he was shocked. “That night when I listened to the audio, my life changed forever." Stuart Chaifetz told the Inquirer. On the tape, which Chaifetz has put on YouTube
a staff member at the school can be heard discussing drinking alcohol the night before, speaking angrily, and allegedly telling 10 year old Aikan to "shut your mouth" according to the boy's father.
Chaifetz: The teacher's and aides treated the children 'like subhumans' taking advantage of the children in the special needs class inability to speak.
The Cherry Hill father says the chain of events that have led up to this moment began earlier this year when his son started school. After a week of attending the elementary school in Cherry Hill, which boasts it's a 'nurturing learning community
', Stuart and began to hear reports that Akian was hitting school staff. According to Chaifetz his son has never acted out in violence before. After a school meeting a behaviorist was sent to observe Akian as well, according to his father, try to create a scenario where Akian would lash out. What Stuart Chaifetz says is critical is that his son never reacted when the behaviorist was trying to provoke him.
After six months of meetings with the school district and his son not being able to tell him what was going on Stuart Chaifetz says he decided to put a 'wire' on his son. The device recorded six and a half hours of the school day and what Chaifetz says is on the recording is talk of alcohol use, complaining about their husbands, talk of couples wanting one another to be sterilized, complaining about the students parent's and also colluding to subvert Akian's parents meetings with the school staff.
On the YouTube video Chaifetz plays audio of his son's teacher only identified as Jodie, stating she spent the night drinking wine with a girlfriend and spent that morning 'heaving'. Chaifetz goes on to say that after his son starts making low noises to himself, a symptom of his autism, that the teacher angrily asks "What are you doing?" and going on to tell him to shut up. After this Akian can be heard crying on the tape posted by Chaifetz on YouTube.
Stuart Chaifetz goes on to state that he is a single parent who has his son with him on most days. However on this particular Friday when his son was wired he would be going to spend time with his mother. Chaifetz claims on the video that Akian has anxiety about this and will ask questions concerning if he will see his father again. On the tape Jodie's voice can be heard allegedly saying "Oh Akian, your such a bastard." in response to his crying.
Akian's father turned the tape over to the school district, Stuart Chaifetz told the Philadelphia Inquirer that although he doesn't know exactly what has been done in response to his complaints he has heard that one of the teacher's aides has been fired. “This is a personnel matter that the district took seriously and handled quickly and appropriately.” a spokeswoman for the school district told the Inquirer. Stuart and his ex-wife seemingly disagree concerning the matter. She told the Inquirer, asking not to be identified, “I wanted this to remain a personal matter,” she said. “All I will say though is that I thought the Cherry Hill School District handled things with my son satisfactorily.”
Stuart Chaifetz has since taken Akian out of the Horace Mann Elementary School according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, he also stated on his YouTube video and to the Inquirer that he does not plan to sue. "This is about getting my son's dignity back." Chaifetz said, he went onto state he wants an apology and can only speculate that it is because the teacher involved has tenure she was not fired.