OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - It isn't unusual for Alex Davis, 12, to come home from Hocker Grove Middle School upset. He gets bullied every day. But his father, Duane Davis, knew last week something was different.
"He wouldn't talk about it," Davis said. "We finally got him to tell us that his teacher referred to him as retarded."
A second flag was raised when Alex told them another school staff member insisted he keep the incident between them.
"Well she said, 'Let's not tell your parents, let's not nag your parents about this,'" Alex said.
Alex was serving an in-school suspension when the incident allegedly occurred. Davis admits his son can be difficult, but says that is no excuse for the teacher's words.
"They don't remember in those moments of frustration that it is because he has a disability," Davis said.
Alex has Asperger syndrome. The condition can make social situations very difficult.
"It is something that is an issue with all autistic kids, simply because of the way they look." Davis explained. "They look so 'normal,' so they're supposed to act normal."
Shawnee Mission School District officials acknowledge they are working with the family to resolve the incident. Davis claimed district officials told the family the teacher admitted to using the derogatory term.
"A teacher should know better. Their response was 'It was a poor choice of words.' That to me is the tip of the iceberg," Davis said.
"Especially telling me not to tell anyone," added Alex. "It is like being held hostage against my will."
The family said they have spent years trying to protect their child and now they will spend more trying to help others understand the impact of their words and understand autism.
"The school system does the best they can but they are failing at it," Davis said.
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