NUTTER FORT, W. Va.(WVFX/WDTV) - The father of a high-functioning autistic boy at the center of an outrage - caused by video of a children's Thanksgiving program at school - told reporters he found what happened to his son "appalling."
Kent Squires is Caleb's father. Video of Caleb's holiday program at school, which was originally posted by his mother, has gotten hundreds of thousands of shares. The original video shows more than 12 minutes of the Thanksgiving play, and each student, including Caleb, comes to the microphone at the front of the stage to deliver lines.
At 6:06 into the video, Caleb delivers his first line. At 8:13, he delivers another. In between, other students say their lines, and they all join together in song. During the last :25 of the video, Caleb is in line on stage to deliver a last line, but the teacher stands up to remove the microphone before he is able.
Caleb is seen holding the microphone stand and yelling something, but it's unclear what he says. He seems upset. It's the last :25 of the video that has many on the internet outraged.
Along with the video, Caleb's mother's post describes the excitement their family felt going into the night, and the disappointment afterward.
"I was all excited to go to Caleb's play everyone did a good job," Amanda Riddle wrote on Facebook. "I left in tears because one teacher grabbed the microphone from Caleb and in a mean way. My son is a little different I know this but his heart is so big and he loves everyone. What does it matter if he wanted to say gobble gobble he was the turkey after all."
During his interview with reporters in the family's home town in West Virginia, Kent Squires said his son was a happy boy.
"He never ever goes without laughing," Squires said. "For them to do what they did is very appalling to me."
The superintendent of Harrison County Schools, Dr. Mark Manchin said there was no malicious intent behind the teacher's actions and she felt horrible everyone, including Caleb, thought she was being mean to him.
"But there's no way to defend it," Dr. Manson said, adding the teacher would not be disciplined.
The school said it did not get the required permission slip for Caleb to be in the play and the moment the teacher took the microphone away was when the program was over. It's unclear why Caleb was allowed to have lines earlier in the program if the permission slip was an issue.
Robyn Viglianco works for an organization helping the mentally and physically disabled in Harrison County, West Virginia. She spoke to reporters about what she saw in the video.
"The child's parents were there. If [the teacher] acted that way in front of them, what is she doing behind closed doors?" Viglianco asked.
Meanwhile, Caleb's mother posted another video on her Facebook page for those concerned he would not get to deliver his prized line, "Gobble, gobble, gobble!" See his message here: https://www.facebook.com/amanda.riddle.33/videos/vb.582808177/10154178614328178/?type=3&theater