[UPDATE] Florida Boy Voted Out of Class


(CBS) Alex Barton may have been voted out of his kindergarten class, but he's being showered with public support, and from some very far-flung places.

Alex's mother, Melissa Barton, says she's outraged and mulling legal action after his classmates in Morningside Elementary School in Port St. Lucie, Fla. voted 14-2 last week in favor of removing Alex from the class -- an action Barton says was led by his teacher, Wendy Portillo. Before the vote, Barton says, Portillo had the students tell Alex, one-by-one, what they don't like about him.

Since then, according to the Fort Pierce (Fla.) Tribune, Portillo has told local police the vote was only meant to be for the day, not for good.

The newspaper also reports that Alex has now been officially diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, a type of high-functioning autism, and with Attention Deficit Disorder.

School district officials tell the newspaper Portillo, who's been a teacher for 12 years, nine at Morningside, has been reassigned to the district offices, and that an on-going investigation of the incident could take up to two weeks.

Portillo's brother was killed in the World Trade Center attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the newspaper adds.

Barton, who spoke with Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith earlier this week, gave Smith an update Friday, along with Dr. Jed Baker, a clinical psychologist and an expert on autism spectrum disorder behavior and education.

Barton told Smith she's getting hundreds and hundreds of e-mails of encouragement, from places as far away as the Netherlands and Australia.

The writers, Barton told Smith, "really care about the children right here in our country and the education they're receiving. And above all things, they care about discrimination and how it's just not the way to go."

Barton says she's keeping Alex home from school the rest of the year, explaining that, "I still have a lot of things to think about and to find the right program for him and the right school and the right situation. You know, he really needs an understanding and an appreciative teacher who works with differences and he's not like all the other children."

Baker has penned several books, the latest of which is, the most recent being "No More Meltdowns: Positive Strategies for Managing and Preventing Out of Control Behavior."

He says he's concerned about "the message we're teaching our kids. (Are we teaching) impressible, five-year-old, kindergarten kids to accept each other and to value diversity and to teach people to help those with special needs, or are we encouraging intolerance? And I think, when a teacher takes the lead in allowing this to happen or encouraging that, it's a form of bullying, because she has quite a bit of power in that situation."



The mother of a child who was kicked out of his kindergarten class after the teacher held a vote among fellow students about his disruptive behavior has reached a settlement with St. Lucie County education officials.

Federal court documents show the county school board and
teachers union agreed to pay the $350,000 settlement to Melissa
Barton and her son, Alex.

The Stuart News reported Wednesday that the settlement was
reached on Nov. 24 in Miami. A review by a third party designated
to consider the best interests of the child is required before the
agreement can be finalized in court.

Barton and education officials declined to comment.

Barton said that in 2008, her son was forced to stand in front
of his peers and be told why 'they hated him.'

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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Josea Location: Illinois on Dec 13, 2010 at 05:21 PM
    I just cannot believe the ignorance and bigotry here. How do any of you know what kind of parent this woman is? Evidently, she takes the time to defend her son's rights and seek justice in a broken system. That is what we know and see. We are not qualified to judge anything else other than the facts of this case. The student-has a disability. The kid has/had a right to a public education just like the other kids did/do. How do any of you suggest it was right to lead a Survivor vote and encourage other kindergartners to list what they *hate* about their classmate who also has a disability! Shame on all of you. I cannot believe the ignorance I see here. And quit suggesting segregation, discrimination and isolation is okay for people based on their having a disability! Would any of you suggest Portillo can't be a teacher because of her race? No. You would not. So quit being bigoted about people with different abilities.
  • by maggie Location: ga on Dec 4, 2010 at 08:45 AM
    My son is a high functioning autistic kid. In elementary, middle and high school he came home every day having been ridiculed, bullied, and tormented with no intervention. I removed him from the abominable "public" schools and paid to have him tutored at home. Later he transferred to a charter school where he was respected, appreciated and educated. When we moved to Minnesota for one year he had an entire team of educational and psychological specialists supporting him-including an autism specialist. Every need was addressed by his professional team and he was supported with counseling and psychiatric care from a medical doctor trained in autism medicine. Georgia and Florida do not back up their so-called "family values" rhetoric with meaningful actions and budget allocations. He is now in a university and has a caring mentor helping him but the scars of hateful aggression cruelly dumped on him in inferior public schools have caused deep wounds that he still struggles to overcome.
  • by Drake Location: Tallahassee on Dec 3, 2010 at 10:53 AM
    I back this teacher. Do you know the problem with the classroom? Yes, disruptive students and parents are not being parents. Education starts at home and this child obviously has issues. I wish that all schools could vote the problem children out of classes, then the school system would work. Its time to break out the paddle!!!
  • by Anonymous on Dec 3, 2010 at 06:46 AM
    : Anonymous on Dec 3, 2010 at 09:01 AM You are probably right in that the child should probably be in a different class more capable of handling his disability. However there is a right way and a wrong way to do everything and this teacher cannot be defended as they definately did not handle this the right way. If the child need to be removed from the class it should be handled in a way that is respectful of the fact that this child has a disability and this is not his, or his parents, fault. You certainly should not single the child out and have other children make fun of his disability.
  • by Anonymous on Dec 3, 2010 at 06:37 AM
    If this had been my child, we would have another case like the father who threatened the children who picked on his disabled child on the bus. My wife has bail money.
  • by Anonymous on Dec 3, 2010 at 06:22 AM
    Anonymous on Dec 2, 2010 at 03:34 PM I don't work or volunteer at the institution you mentioned, but for years I have volunteered at several camps for physically and mentally handicapped children in the area. I can tell you that I most definately do not understand or condone this teachers behavior. Your comments are disturbing as they seem to suggest that some consideration be given the teacher because children with this sort of disability may be frustrating to teach. I certainly hope you are not in the education system and if you do volunteer at Gretchen Everhart, the staff read your comments and is keeping their eyes open for volunteers with unacceptable attitudes.
  • by Anonymous on Dec 3, 2010 at 06:21 AM
    It makes me sad that so many of you rely on the government and lawsuits to support yourself. I would like to see any of you teach any children period.
  • by Anonymous on Dec 3, 2010 at 06:01 AM
    The teacher nor the children should have been required to put up with a disruptive student. I think he should have been booted out of class. It is up to the parents to find the proper place for his learning, but it wasn't in this classroom disrupting the learning of others.
  • by AB Location: GA on Dec 3, 2010 at 05:51 AM
    Yes, but did the teacher KNOW about the autism? If not, she's just trying to find a way to deal with what must appear to be a bratty kid. If he's mean to the other kids, or rude, or disruptive, she was probably just trying to teach him that his behavior was not acceptable. It's not like she spanked him or duct taped him to a chair.
  • by chris shields Location: crawfordville fl on Dec 3, 2010 at 03:52 AM
    let me start off by saying that i have a 5 yr old daughter that is moderate to severe autistic and let me tell all of ya'll. i live and support my daughter everyday and it is not any childs fault the way they were born people just need to wake up and treat other people the way they want to be treated. these kids have enough to deal with and don't deserve any kind of harassment,teasing,shunning or abuse of any kind. i'm just going to put it out there for everybody that thinks its alright to treat these very special children like they don't deserve to be here,let anything happen to any of mine and I WILL BE THE ONE SHOWING UP AT YOUR FRONT DOOR AND WHOEVER IT IS WONT LIKE THE OUTCOME THAT IS ONE PROMISE I WILL BE SURE TO KEEP!!!!!!!!!!!!! FOR ALL THE TEACHERS OUT THERE THAT KNOW HOW TO TREAT CHILDREN KUDOS TO YOU !!!! AND FOR ALL YOU IDIOTS OUT THERE THAT THINKS IT IS ALRIGHT TO TREAT KIDS THIS WAY WATCH OUT IT MAY BE MINE!!!
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