(WSVN) - Two parents have pulled their special needs children out of a Miramar school after a secret audio recording caught teachers yelling at the 4-year-olds. Karen Hensel has tonight’s special report: Teachers on Tape.
Lia Moise sent her son Collin, who is non-verbal and on the autism spectrum, to Silver Shores Elementary to help him prepare for kindergarten.
She had high hopes for him in the public school program.
Lia Moise, mother: “To prepare him to transition him into elementary pre-K, kindergarten.”
Lia does not want us to show Collin’s face.
She says after classes started, she noticed changes in his behavior.
Lia Moise: “As far as him being happy and wanting to go to school, no, he wasn’t. He seemed down.”
She was worried something was happening at school, and since Collin is unable to tell her, Lia went online, bought this audio recording device and had it sewn into his shirt.
This is part of what was recorded on one day last school year.
Teacher: “Quiet, Collin.”
Teacher: “Shut up your little voice! Collin, get over…”
Teacher: “Fix your mask! Stop, Collin.”
Teacher: “(Inaudible) … wants to hear you crying. I will say you sick, and you need to go home.”
It was hard for Lia to listen.
Lia Moise: “I could not go through the recording. Initially, I couldn’t go through the recording.”
She says it was especially difficult when she heard the teacher actually mimic her non-verbal child.
Teacher: “Stop it, or I’m gonna give you a reason to, eh, eh.”
And when he cried?
Here is how a teacher’s aide responded.
Teacher’s assistant: “Don’t cry like a [expletive].”
Teacher: “I hate this [expletive].”
Then, Lia realized it was not just happening to her son but also to another 4-year-old student with autism in the same class.
Teacher: “Head down and leave it there. Head down. Now you, now you cry.”
And when he wouldn’t stop crying…
Teacher: “I’m gonna get some cold, cold, cold water straight from the fridge!”
Dr. Monica Gilbert, Child Psychologist: “That one was really the hardest one, I think, that I’ve heard because of the crying and him being clearly in distress.”
We asked Dr. Monica Gilbert, a child psychologist who works with special needs children, to listen to portions of the recording.
Dr. Monica Gilbert: “No one, I think, should be spoken to like that and less a child who is a vulnerable child.”
Teacher: “Get up! Because if I have to get up and get you up, it’s gonna be a problem.”
It is unclear at times what provokes the outbursts. The recording also picks up the teacher talking to other students online when parents and caregivers would be nearby. Listen to the difference.
Teacher: “Yeah! We’ll see you guys at 9:15, and I’ll get my stuff together for Play-Doh, too. See you in a little bit, guys.”
Less than 20 seconds later, a much different tone.
Teacher’s assistant: “What do you want to do with Collin?”
Teacher: “You can put, put him in puke.”
Collin’s mom complained to the school. The recording was handed over to Child Protective Services to investigate.
The Florida Department of Children and Families stated, “Both teachers were removed from the classroom pending the outcome of the investigation.”
The investigator noted, “There is some harsh tune that could be heard … in the classroom. However, there is no indication that any child was harm [sic] during this time.”
Broward Schools also conducted an investigation.
The teacher and her aide denied “any verbal abuse of students,” and the teacher “denied ever using water as punishment.”
The district’s professional standards committee recommended no disciplinary action.
This mom still calls what she heard abusive.
Lia Moise: “That’s all bottling inside of him. That’s how I took that to really find out what’s going on because my son can’t talk.”
Karen Hensel: “He can’t tell you.”
Lia Moise: “He can’t tell me.”
Parents of both the boys took them out of the classroom.
Collin has started at a new school, where his mom says he is doing well.
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