A Michigan school board’s decision not to fire the teacher who reportedly mocked a boy with Asperger’s syndrome and recorded and circulated video of him struggling to free himself from a chair could end up costing the district money.
An attorney representing the family of the 10-year-old boy, whose torso had become stuck in the open back of a chair at the Goodrich school district’s Oakwood Elementary School, says his clients “have no recourse” but to file a lawsuit against the district, the Detroit Free Press reports.
Patrick Greenfelder, a lawyer for the boy’s family, said the Goodrich Area Schools board of education was poised to fire the teacher, Nicole McVey, but suddenly reversed course.
Instead, his clients were given a letter of apology from McVey and the board unanimously approved a 1-year suspension without pay or benefits, rather than taking the expected action of withdrawing her tenure, the newspaper said.
In the letter of apology, McVey reportedly wrote that she has “learned the severity” of her mistake, one she said she has thought about “every single day for the past 5 months.”
“I wish I could change every part of it,” wrote McVey, who has been with the Flint-area district for 14 years.
“Through all of this mess, the clients had been fully supportive of the superintendent and the school board on this difficult decision,” Greenfelder said. “Now, for whatever reason, they have reneged on the promise. ... A lawsuit appears to be their only recourse.”
On the video, McVey can be heard asking the boy how he got himself in that situation and if he wanted to be “Tasered.” A man’s voice also heard on the video has been identified as Michael Ellis, a building principal who resigned after the video was made public in February by a Detroit television station. Both McVey and Ellis were immediately placed on leave.
Also under the terms of the settlement, McVey agreed to attend remedial training centering on classroom relationships and the handling of student information.