January 08, 2009
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.
The Weekly Vice
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