Northport Board of Education Silences 14-Year-Old Autistic Student During Speech (Video)

| by Khier Casino

Christian Ranieri, a 14-year-old boy who has a neurodevelopmental disorder, says he was shut down by the Northport-East Northport Board of Education on Monday following a speech he made during a meeting. He felt it was unfair how he was treated in the classroom because of his disability.

Ranieri’s parents said the night was supposed to be a therapeutic exercise of expression, but their autistic son expressed nothing but disappointment. His therapist allowed him to attend the school board meeting Monday night, feeling that it was Ranieri to share his feeling through writing.

Ranieri can be seen nearly crying as he left the room in a YouTube video of the incident. The video has gained more than 6,000 views as of today.

“It was apparent he was not being heard,” Carina Ranieri, his mother and a former SEPTA president told in a phone interview.

Ranieri, who is offered any accommodation through an Individualized Education Plan, was suspended for two days after yelling at a teacher out of anger on Sept. 27.

When Ranieri decided to write the speech to read to the school board, Carina said her son was trying to “self-advocate” and wanted the elected members to consider “the fact that he’s being suspended and they [the district administrators] are not taking responsibility.” Ranieri read the speech when it was time for public comments portion of the regular school board meeting.

Stephen Waldenburg, Jr., school board president, stopped Ranieri one minute into the speech, citing privacy laws in his reasoning.

“You have to understand that we are legally limited in what we can discuss in a public session,” he said. “You are not giving the superintendent an opportunity to discuss a private, personal matter.”

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records.