A recent story is sending shock waves through the autism community. Kimberly Taylor, a principal at Hilltop, a school for special needs children in Haverstraw, New York, was caught on tape screaming abuse at children, calling them "animals" and "retard." I've listened to this recording over and over and every single time my stomach turns, my heart starts racing and the way she is screaming at these kids is repulsive. I can only imagine how these children must have felt hearing these rants of what sounds like an out of control woman.
A teacher's aide, Kenneth Egan, had recorded the abuse and reported it to the school district. He brought it to the attention of school superintendent Dr. Mary Jean Marsico and Egan was then promptly fired for it. Dr. Marsico has been quoted in the media saying that this incident took place three years ago and it was addressed at that time.
As if the fact that it happened years ago would minimize the severity of the abuse. It doesn't. If anything, it makes it even more disturbing and revolting knowing that this type of mentality is what is governing the school and the fact that Kimberly Taylor is still principal at the same school. Nobody is really quite sure what disciplinary actions were brought upon Taylor, if any at all.
So if it happened over three years ago why is it resurfacing now? Kenneth Egan, the teacher's aide that recorded the abuse, is now suing the school district.
The school district can try to minimize this situation to the point of almost making it sound as though it never really happened, in fact, that's what they've been doing for the last three years. Problem is it did happen. Somebody's voice is on that tape. Somebody did call these children the "r" word and "animals" and severe disciplinary action must be taken. This can't and should not be swept under the rug.
What angers me and the majority (if not all), parents of special needs children is the fact that people with this sordid mentality and attitude are even remotely near our children, let alone in a position of teaching our children.
This principal may have the right academic credentials to hold such a position but in my book she is morally unqualified to even be near children, much less a principal governing a school for special needs kids. This is not a nice human being. Just listen to the audio tape, you can hear and feel the contempt and disgust that she has for these kids.
This is another prime example how the rights of special needs children continues to be violated by the same people that are in a position to protect them. The abuser doesn't see these children as whole. They see them as deficient, less than and certainly not worthy of respect and dignity. This principal didn't see them as whole human beings. She saw them as "animals."
What message is the school district sending when they fire the person that has reported the abuse? As a society do we not have a moral obligation to report abuse, especially with children, when we see it? This is exactly what this teacher's aide did. He was fired for it.
Clearly this school district is not there for the best interest of the children. They're obviously working with a very different agenda, one that doesn't involve the safety or well-being of the students.
Schools officials then question why parents are so vigilant that we keep a close eye on all that is going on at school. Is it really that difficult to understand? While these situations are not present in every school they are a common occurrence, too common. We have no choice but to be worried, skeptical, cautious, inquisitive, demanding answers and wanting to be heard when things are not right.
To speak this way to any child, especially a child with special needs, that may not be in a position to stand up for themselves or report this type of behaviour to their parents, is more than a little disturbing. It's disgusting, it's vulgar, it's inhumane, it's mean, it's ignorant, it's a violation but above all, it's verbal abuse that should be punished.
As a community I hope that we can put enough pressure on this case to have a fair and unbiased investigation. Somebody's voice is on that tape. Somebody DID call these kids 'ANIMALS' and 'RETARD' and they should be punished for it. They should not be able to go about their day as though these words were never spoken.
How dare anyone call a special needs child the "r" word? Do you know what affect this can have on them emotionally and mentally? Words have consequences and the ripple effect can last a lifetime.
In the audio tape Ms. Taylor, can be heard belittling the children:
"It's important you're on your best behavior," she is heard saying. "If someone falls in dance, don't laugh because I will rip your [expletive] out of there. It's important not to embarrass yourself. Your family take pride in yourself. I will embarrass you, you all know me, if you don't give a [expletive], neither do I."
Ms. Taylor, I have one question for you, how proud do you think your family is of you now?
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