A six-year-old autistic boy burst into tears during his school’s Thanksgiving play after a teacher snatched the microphone away to stop him saying his line.
Heartbreaking phone footage captured by the boy’s parents, Kent Squires and Amanda Riddle, shows their son, Caleb, looking visibly distressed on stage.
Caleb was playing a turkey in the production at Nutter Fort Primary School in Harrison County, West Virginia, and was ready to say his line, ‘gobble gobble’.
But he did not have a chance to speak and was instead seen screaming ‘Oh no’ when the teacher took away the microphone, before sobbing in front of the audience.
His father posted the clip on Facebook and it has sparked a furious response from fellow parents and teachers describing the behavior as ‘outrageous’.
‘This is my little boy in his Thanksgiving play. He is the last kid and has level one high functioning autism,’ Mr Squires captioned the video.
‘He has the biggest heart and [is] always happy. Now watch it and see what a teacher of kids does to him.
‘He has [come] home from school and said he gets to say “gobble gobble” cause he was playing the turkey.
‘I am reaching out to see if something can be done.’
Caleb’s mother also posted a video showing the six-year-old happily singing along with other young pupils in the moments before the incident.
Ms Riddle also said she left the play ‘in tears’ after seeing the teacher, who she said she believes is ‘Mrs Linsey’ snatch the microphone away.
‘I was all excited to go to Caleb’s play everyone did a good job,’ she 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.’
Hundreds of concerned parents rallied round the family, with many posting supportive comments on the video.
One mother wrote: ‘As a parent of children in Harrison County schools, I am horrified by that woman’s behavior.
‘Not only did she crunch that sweet child’s heart by doing that, but she is showing the other students that kind of behavior is OK. It isn’t OK at all.
‘While I do not know the child or his family, I am part of his community. I can not stand to think that people can treat our children that way.
‘I have already emailed the superintendent. I hope something can be done.’
Another viewer commented: ‘I am a teacher, and I have every authority to say that people like this have no business in any classroom.
‘It is extremely hard to fire teachers because of the unions, but I hope the principal and board go through every hurdle to get this woman fired and away from all children.’
Ashley Chase Stanton wrote: ‘This breaks my heart! From one autism mommy to another we are all here behind you!’
It is not yet clear whether the teacher deliberately took the microphone or removed it without realizing Caleb was about to speak.
Dailymail.com reached out to the school for a comment but was referred to the Harrison County Board of Education.
Mark Manchin, Superintendent of Harrison County Schools, said the Board of Education was investigating the video and addressing the situation.
A source with knowledge of the incident told that Manchin has already spoken to the family, the teacher in question and the school’s principal.
At this time it is not clear if the teacher, who has not been identified, will face disciplinary actions following the incident.
Dr Manchin told 5 News that he believed it was a ‘mistake’ with ‘no malice’ intended.
‘It’s a mistake that was made. There was no malice,’ he said.
‘This teacher, as all of our teachers, truly care about these young boys and girls. The program was over, at least as I understand, and the teacher had taken the microphone.’
Dr Manchin claimed that when the teacher grabbed the microphone the play had ended.
It has also been suggested that the boy’s ‘gobble gobble’ was not part of the set script and that he had several other speaking parts throughout the play.