Feeling that New Jersey's tough anti-bullying laws weren't tough enough, one father took matters into his own hands, secretly recording a teacher and an aide mocking his autistic child and garnering national attention as a result.
Stuart Chaifetz said his 10-year-old son, Akian, had always been a "sweet and nonviolent child," and so it was puzzling when he began coming home with notes from Horace Mann Elementary School claiming he was having violent outbursts.
In some cases, Akian was accused of hitting his teacher and an aide. When meetings with school administrators didn't produce answers, Chaifetz was at a loss.
"I felt I was beginning to lose my son, that these outbursts were changing his very nature," he says. "I knew I had to find out what was happening in his class."
Chaifetz's method of getting to the bottom of things including wiring his son for sound one February morning. Akian returned with more than six hours of audio.
Six hours that Stuart Chaifetz said "changed his life forever."
Chaifetz detailed his findings on a web page, "No More Teachers/Bullies," and in a YouTube video titled: "Teacher/Bully: How My Son Was Humiliated and Tormented by His Teacher and Aide" (above). The results are certainly eyebrow-raising.
In clips of the audio, a classroom aide and teacher whom Chaifetz identifies as "Jodi" and "Kelly" can be heard discussing alcohol use, spousal issues and other personal topics, as well as mocking Akian and responding rudely to his questions.
Chaifetz in listening to the audio, the reasoning behind his son's outbursts became clear to him, and he then moved to take the case public.
Thanks to social media, the case has quickly gone viral.
In a note atop the hundreds of comments he's received, Chaifetz states that he's disabled the auto-post feature due to a large amount of "inappropriate posts," and that he's finding it hard to keep up with comments pouring in.
Chaifetz has also noted a groundswell of support on Facebook.
As a result of Chaifetz's impromptu sting, the aide was fired but the teacher was apparently reassigned to another school. On his web page, Chaifetz expresses the opinion that such teachers should be fired, "no second chances, no excuses."
He has collected more than 20,000 signatures on a petition seeking legislation that would result in immediate dismissal of teachers who engage in bullying.