BCPS votes to give Dania Elementary teacher 3-day suspension for mistreating autistic student

DANIA BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - Broward County School Board officials voted to suspend a Dania Elementary School teacher accused of mistreating a student with autism.

Cell phone video taken inside the classroom showed the teacher getting physical with the student, but following an investigation and reassignment, the school board decided to suspend her for three days without pay, which angered the student’s father, who said that the punishment is not enough.

“We gave up on the public school system as a result of what happened,” said Jason Segelbaum.

Segelbaum is furious. His 7-year-old son Max is on the autism spectrum, and last year, while sitting in class at Dania Elementary School, cell phone video captured his teacher Halyna Shvank jerking Max‘s head back and pushing him down in his chair.

Now after being reassigned and investigated, Broward County Public School superintendent Robert Runcie has recommended Shvank be suspended for three days without pay.

“If you put yourself in my shoes, it’s unbelievable the fact that Mr. Runcie believes that a three-day suspension without pay is warranted,” Segelbaum said.

Segelbaum knows there can be challenges when working with children who have more needs than others. That’s why he said Max was placed in an autism cluster that is supposed to be tailored to meet those needs.

“We pray that the teachers inside the classroom are going to have a full understanding of who he is and are trained by the public school system to be able to work with these children,” he said.

In an 8-1 vote, the school board approved the superintendent’s recommendation after the president of the Broward Teachers Union claimed the video was doctored without providing any evidence.

“We’re in the year of 2020. Things get spliced, get dubbed, get added. It happens all the time. This teacher is not abusive. It was misrepresented. It was misunderstood,” said Anna Fusco.

However, Segelbaum and his family aren’t giving up.

They’re now considering a federal lawsuit to prevent other children from experiencing what Max went through.

“This is clear cut discrimination. Our child has autism, and the teachers feel that they can get away with whatever they want,” Segelbaum said.

The only school board member to vote against the superintendent’s recommendation was Lori Alhadeff.

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