Julio Artuz: 'Don't Call Me Special'

New Jersey ‘special needs’ student captures teacher bully on video.

Hey, teacher, if you're so smart, why can't you be nice? (Photo: NBCPhiladelphia)

Allan MacDonell is TakePart’s News + Opinion editor, with a focus on social justice.

If the school bully harassing 15-year-old Julio Artuz had been a playground thug, Artuz might not have needed to film a secret video to convince his parents to intervene. Tired of being doubted, and of being attacked, Artuz snuck a cell phone into Gloucester County, New Jersey’s Bankbridge Regional School and captured his persecutor in the act.

Be warned: The video is sickening. The bully is Julio’s special education teacher. The full-grown man threatens physical violence on a young boy whose infraction seems to be a desire to be referred to, and treated as, a “normal” person.

Special education teachers are among the profession’s most revered members, and rightly so. They are charged with encouraging and caring for every school district’s most difficult students. Few careers, outside of police or medical work, face as many daunting daily challenges. All around the country, exceptional teachers are leading exceptional students toward a life path of dignity, self-sufficiency and—for want of a better word—normalcy.

Julio Artuz, and every kid whose needs are outside the mean standard, deserves one of those exceptional teachers.

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