(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."
MIAMI (AP) --
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.'