Wendy Portillo under scrutiny again

By Al Pefley - bio | email

PORT ST. LUCIE (WFLX) - A local teacher, who made headlines for letting her students vote an Autistic child out of class, is under scrutiny once again.

Federal investigators say Wendy Portillo and two other teachers failed to provide an appropriate education for a little girl who was partially deaf.

Now, the school district has been ordered to correct the situation.

Wendy Portillo was in trouble in 2008 after she allowed her kindergarten students to vote a little boy with autism out of their classroom.

The youngster, 5-year-old Alex Barton, was humiliated. That was at Morningside Elementary, and Portillo was suspended for a year. She now teaches at Allapattah Flats in Port St. Lucie.

Federal investigators, however, have determined Portillo discriminated against a child with a disability at that school. "I think its disgraceful," said Alex's mother, Melissa Barton.

She says the latest revelations about Portillo are unfortunate. "It's very saddening to me to see that this is still taking place with the same teacher," Barton continued.

In the latest case, a report from the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights found evidence that Portillo and two other teachers discriminated against a girl with a hearing impairment at Allapattah Flats K-8 School.

The teachers were supposed to wear a microphone whenever the girl was in their classroom, so she could hear them. But the girl claimed sometimes they did not wear it.

Her mother filed a complaint with the Department of Education saying the school district and the three teachers denied her daughter the right to a free and appropriate public education.

Among the allegations in the report:

"That one teacher never wore the microphone and screamed and yelled at the student to pay closer attention."

The report says another wore the microphone, but did not turn it on, and "laughed sarcastically in the face of the student".

Federal investigators found, "The weight of the evidence establishes that the microphone was not being used by all three teachers consistently every day".

"I can't say that I am surprised," said Barton. "I fought very hard to correct this district and correct this teacher, and here we are again!"

The hearing-impaired girl no longer attends Allapattah Flats. Her mother took her out of the school.

Wendy Portillo was unavaiable for comment nor a spokesperson for the school district. Meanwhile, the district has been ordered to provide re-training for Portillo and the other two teachers.

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