Family of child hit by teacher in class wants cameras in classroom
- As they say, information is power, and for kids without a voice, this makes sense - and maybe the teacher would have thought twice about her behavior with a camera in the room...
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From: Tricia Luker <tluker@...>
To: Sandy Alperstein <alpy2@...>; Deidre Hammon <csdlibrary@...>; inclusiveproductions@...; Billy & Jackie Igafo-Te'o <igafoteo@...>
Sent: Tue, Jun 14, 2011 11:57 am
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Family of Special Needs Student Hit by Teacher Wants Cameras in Classrooms
Jun 2, 2011JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A Duval County family is hoping to turn a negative situation into a positive one for children in special needs classrooms.Mishonda and Granardo Felix's 13-year-old son Brandon McNeil has Down Syndrome and attends Palm Avenue Exceptional Elementary School.A few months ago, the school's principal told the family that the teaching assistant in their son's classroom, Khasey Cunningham, was concerned about the way their son's teacher, Darlena Thompson, was treating her students.Cunningham used her cell phone's camera to record Thompson when she left the room one day, and the video the Felix's viewed showed Thompson snatching a pencil from Brandon's hand and throwing it back in his face.A few moments later, Thompson was recorded asking other students if they're dumb and telling another child she had "just ten more weeks with you."The teacher has been suspended and the school, along with the Department of Children and Families and state attorney's office are looking into what happened that day in Thompson's classroom.For the Felix's, that wasn't enough. Now the parents are organizing a community rally to garner support for Brandon's Bill, a law that would allow cameras in special needs classrooms.The couple said they've met with Senator Stephen Wise's office and his office is planning to help them pursue the bill.In addition, the family has obtained a local attorney, Whitney Lonker. Lonker told First Coast News that the family has been negotiating a settlement with the Duval County school board, though Lonker said no lawsuit has been filed.A spokeswoman for Duval County Schools told First Coast News she needs to talk with the school board's attorneys before she can comment on the case.Lonker agrees that cameras in special needs classrooms are necessary."They don't have a voice, and the only voice that they have to say Mom, Dad, this teacher's abusing me, or this is what happened in school today, is a camera in a classroom," Lonker said.