Video shows special education teacher being hostile toward student with autism

DANIA BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - A special education teacher at Dania Elementary School was caught on cellphone video being hostile toward a young boy with autism.

Max Segelbaum is a sweet and calm 7-year-old who is on the autism spectrum and unable to speak.

Cellphone video recorded a teacher inside the school getting upset and pushing his head back. The video has left Max’s parents devastated.

“To see your child actually being touched by someone in a hostile way, it made me sick to my stomach,” Jason Segelbaum, Max’s father, said.

According to parents, most of the children inside the special education class cannot speak. They said they found out about what happened because a college student was observing the class and was disturbed by what he saw.

The video also shows the children sitting quietly when the teacher gets up from her desk, walks over to Max, jerks his head back and appears to push him down in his chair.

“To me, to see my child treated that way was just — and my wife — it was just unreal,” Segelbaum said.

However, Segelbaum said this is not the first time their son has been mistreated at a Broward County Public School.

“You’ve met our son,” Segelbaum said. “He is a very soft — he’s a good kid, and for him to have to go through this time and time again, it’s not what we expected.”

Max’s special education teachers at Pasadena Lakes Elementary were caught on an audio recording in May yelling and cursing at the 7-year-old and his classmates.

“That mother [expletive] say [expletive] to me,” a teacher said in the recording. “You better not touch me or scratch me. You understand? You are getting a diaper change!”

In the first incident in May, a student had a recorder on his backpack, and in the recent Dania Elementary incident, a student-teacher was alarmed by what he saw and started recording on his cellphone.

Because of the two incidents, State Sen. Lauren Book, D-Fla., is sponsoring a bill that would allow parents to request a camera inside their child’s special education classroom.

“I believe that if there’s nothing to hide, then there should be no fear,” Book said, “and it can keep teachers and educators safe, too, because people can go back and look at the things that are going on in a classroom.”

Broward County Public Schools said they are investigating the incident at Dania Elementary School.

In a statement, the district said, “The district takes all matters involving student safety very seriously. The employee you referenced is reassigned to a position with no student contact pending the outcome of the investigation.”

Segelbaum hopes cameras could prevent incidents like this from happening to any other children

“This is something that has to happen for the safety of our children,” he said.

What makes the 7-year-old’s family most upset is they say the school never told them about the recent incident until they heard rumors from other parents and confronted administrators.

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