January 08, 2009

Elizabeth Valeriay - Teacher Forces Female Student To Remove Shirt In Class As Punishment

Fairfield, Connecticut (The Weekly Vice) -- Elizabeth Valeriay, a 53-year-old special education teacher at Dwight Elementary School in Fairfield, has been arrested on charges that she punished a 6-year-old female student by making the girl remove her shirt before the class.

Valeriay, who resides in Madison, was arrested on Tuesday on a charge of cruelty to persons. The alleged incident reportedly occurred on October 6th, 2008.

According to police, the child, who is autistic, had recently become fixated on striped shirts and began stratching at her shirt because it hads stripes on it. When the student failed to refrain from scratching at the stripes, the teacher allegedly punished her by forcing her to remove her shirt in class.

A paraprofessional at the school entered the classroom, saw the student sitting naked from the waiste up and reported it to the principal, who in turn contacted the child's parents.

Valeriay told police during questioning that the incident occured because "when a student is distracted, the teacher should give a verbal redirection to the student and remove the distraction," according to the police report. She then cited her 30 years experience to the investigators, who we're sure they were impressed with.

Officials at the school stated Valeriay is no longer employed at the school.

The Weekly Vice Opinion:

A few thoughts on this case. Dealing with a child who has autism is a big challenge - and yes, the child wasn't likely harmed by the incident. There's not much to see when a little girl is 6.

But every human deserves dignity, regardless of who they are or what ailment they have. If the child was a handful that day, she should be sent home before ever being put in an undignified, humiliating position like that.

As to the teacher's reasoning behind her idiotic behavior. How on earth is rendering a child half naked a method of removing a distraction. Looks to us like you've created a whopping distraction.

Danny Vice
The Weekly Vice

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crazyaquariusgurl said...

wow i am taking this as a hint, my son's bday is october 6th. im home schooling lol

unbelievable said...

I hate smug people who are clearly wrong and make excuses for inexcusable behavior!

Sandra said...

crazyaquagrl, I already do. I never planned on it initially, but they really had gotten bad here in Fla

S.J. , Fairfield, CT said...

I can see why this doesn't look good. But, Liz was my son's teacher when he was 5 years old. I have to say, she was the most incredible teacher and advocate for my son. I've spoken with several parents over the past couple days about this incident. Every parent I've spoken to, whose child had Liz for a teacher, all echo this same sentiment. I feel badly for her because I'm certain that her heart was in the right place. No teacher ever did more to help my child make the strides that he made that year.

sheryl said...

S.J., that may be true. Perhaps she did wonders for every kid who graced her class. But seriously, stripping a girl from the waist up? Making her sit in class half naked? Now come on. Autistic children are people too. They are not dogs. You do not "train" then like dogs. I'm not sure she should have been arrested, but I am glad she is no longer at the school. That is not good judgment.

crazyaquariusgurl said...

a normal person would have just told the parents about the "issue" and moved on, not strip someone. give me a break. you think crazy people are crazy all the time? she has just been harboring her true self until her breaking point and that was it. you have to have a patient and good disposition to work with kids in general. so this was uncalled for, i hope she is never allowed to teach kids again. who would be ok with this creep doing this to their child? another sick person.

erin said...

Let's keep in mind this was a six year old girl - whom probably could be confused for a six year old boy at this age. I am not condoning what she did but let's not blow this out of proportion. The kid was 6. Not 12. Distraction, yes. Wrong, yes. Disgraceful, yes. Making more out of it then should be, yes.

magnificentjay said...

teach had a bad day or i guess it was 30 years too long...

crazyaquariusgurl said...

yes im soo sure the teacher forgot that day that the little girl was in fact a girl? wtf is wrong with people? and telling a child to strip down being 2 or 16 is just wrong.

MaxXx said...

you know... the nuts out there who do this sort of stuff isn't what scares me. They can be carted off to jail. It's the mindless drones out there who defend their idiotic behavior that scares the hell out of me.

erin said...

I do not think anyone was condoning the behavior. I know I am not.

MaxXx said...

No Erin, you just basically proceeded to strip the girl of her dignity because she doesn't have breasts yet.

If we applied your reasoning across the board, then child porn would be okay too, since boys and girls both have flat chests.

You people are just going to a sick place trying to defend this woman. My God, what's wrong with you? How would you like your kid stripped and humileated in a classroom full of kids?

Oh wait. Don't answer that question. I don't think I want to know the answer.

erin said...

Wow MaxXx.

I do not think I was stripping anyone of their dignity or condoning the behavior or comparing it to child pornography. Nor was I defending her. I think what she did was wrong and should be punished. I was merely making the point that it wasn't as "horrific" as some were making it out to be.

Yes, I feel sorry for this child. She should have NEVER been put through that. It was humiliating. And should have NEVER happened. I was merely trying to convey that I doubt it was for the teacher or anyone else to get a rise out of it.

You do not have to be rude. I think we basically agree on the same points that it was wrong and should have never happened, just the extremity that we believe that is different.

Best to you.

mastertech said...

looney tunes ?

Aguy said...

While I agree that bad teachers need to be shut down, we also need to be careful about witch-hunts.

I went looking for the FACTS on this story and here is what I found:

Three months AFTER this all happened a government lawyer convinced the parents to file charges EVEN THOUGH they did not want to. The local police then had no choice but to arrest the teacher based on those charges. Later, the state refused to prosecute once all the facts were known.

Here are the facts (A) the girl was a 6 years old and autistic. (B) The girl was not "in class", she was alone with the teacher. (C) the girl was obsessively rubbing the fabric of her shirt against her skin. (D) the teacher had *daily* responsibility to physically assist the child to change clothes.

It is this last fact that tells the real tale because everyone who says this teacher is some sort of a perv needs to ask themselves why would she **need** to do this if she sees the kid sans clothes every day?

Well here is why:

It turns out the kid was taking a math test and if you know anything about autistic kids then you known one of the behaviors they have is a kind of OCD where they will become distracted by hyperfocusing on an object and be unable to do anything else.

The teacher in this case had 30 years of experience and used the well-proven technique of removing the distraction/focus object (which happened to be an article of clothing in this case) so the child could refocus. Again, there was no-one else in the room but the kid and the teacher who had legal authority and daily responsibility to help the child into and out of her clothes felt it was reasonable to do so in those specific circumstances.

A paraprofessional (teacher's aide) at the school entered the classroom, saw the student sitting naked from the waist up and reported it to the principal, who in turn contacted the child's parents.

Unfortunately the press had a field day and misreported a lot of things, including saying the girl was "in class", was being "punished", etc... Oh, and before I forget, the government lawyer who convinced the parents to pursue this were influenced by DCF -- the never-wrong guardians of perfect parenthood.


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