Hearing impaired student claims teacher broke law

By Allison Bybee - bio | email

PORT ST. LUCIE, FL (WFLX) - First, it was allowing kindergarten students to vote an autistic 5-year-old boy out of class. Now, two years later, Wendy Portillo is in trouble again. This time, the allegations involve a hearing impaired student.

Portillo has been at Allapattah Flatts K-8 school for year. During this time, a 12-year-old girl said she was discriminated against because of her disability.

The girl is hearing impaired, and, by law, her teachers must wear a microphone in class. She says, many times, they didn't. "I was kind of intimidated, and I didn't want to ask questions, and it was clear to me they didn't want to use the microphones."

For five months, mother Beth Woods says she tried to work with the school. "Sometimes, several phone calls a day -- from teachers to district office -- and I wasn't getting any results."

Finally, she filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights against three teachers. She claims her daughter was scolded because she asked her teachers to use the microphone. Sometimes, the teachers asked her if they had to wear it. "It's just improper and unlawful for a teacher to ask the student if they need the services," said attorney Paul Sopp who's representing the family.

Sopp disappointed Portillo is involved in something like this again.

As for the seventh grader, she now attends a new private school. She hopes by speaking out, no one else goes through what she did. "I hope the school district learns that students need to hear and instructions need to be followed."

We could not reach Wendy Portillo for comment.

A St. Lucie County spokeswoman says Portillo and the other two teachers will not be fired or re-assigned and this does not violate Portillo's current probation.

Now, all teachers will be re-trained on how to use microphones in class.

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