News Article Details

Runcie, parents to discuss teachers accused of cursing at autistic kindergartners

South Florida Sun Sentinel - 5/20/2019

May 20-- May 20--When a student in the special needs class at Pasadena Lakes Elementary School cursed at home, his parents sent him to school with a recording device in his backpack. AngelSense is a popular GPS tracking device for parents whose children have autism, in case their children wander, or need to be spoken to from afar to "calm them down, or request assistance from people nearby," according to its website.

What the parents heard was a recording of teachers allegedly lashing out at students, many of them unable to communicate.

"You better not touch me or scratch me, you understand? You are getting a diaper change!" one teacher said.

The same teacher was captured using profanity.

"That mother [f---] say [s---] to me," she said.

"Get to work ... Drag your ass over there. Watch me. Try me," a teacher is heard saying in the recording.

Runcie plans to meet with seven of the kindergarten families Monday night.

Jason Segelbaum, whose 5-year-old is in the kindergarten class, wants the teacher and teacher's aide involved fired.

Segelbaum said his friends used the recording device after their own child who is also in the class "came home cursing up a storm. [His parents said] 'He's dropping the F-bomb and we don't know where this is coming from.'"

His parents initially thought there was a problem on the school bus, but recording there over three days captured the driver and the driver's assistant consistently singing "Wheels on the Bus" to the children.

Then they thought there was a problem on the playground. But a recording May 7 stunned parents when they heard the teachers' voices instead.

"We were disgusted," said Segelbaum, who has since gotten his son reassigned to another school.

He said he is advocating for the placement of cameras in the classrooms for special needs students "because that will intimidate the teachers [not] to do anything to do these students."

A Pembroke Pines Police spokeswoman said the investigation is ongoing but declined to provide details. The Broward Sheriff's Office's Child Protective Investigations Section, which conducts investigations on behalf of the Florida Department of Children and Families, is also investigating, according to the Sheriff's Office.

The teacher and teacher's aide "have been reassigned away from the school and students" and the "school and district staff continue to work with law enforcement," a school district spokeswoman said. No other details were released.

Late last week, the school district sent a robocall to every parent in the district with a message from Runcie. He assured parents that the teacher and teacher's aide had been reassigned outside the school. "We are here to protect your children ... and we will never compromise on that."

Typically, such calls are directed to parents with children in a specific school, not the entire district. A follow-up robocall announced it had been sent district-wide in error.

Both the teacher and teacher's aide were reassigned outside the school, Runcie said in the robocall. out the authenticity of it" and confirm it "wasn't sliced or altered." She also questioned if the recording was legal.

The union is only representing the teacher's assistant; the teacher is not a union member.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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(c)2019 the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

Visit the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at www.sun-sentinel.com

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