A teaching assistant was fired and is now facing eviction after their video calling out a school for not providing students with the special education teacher they need went viral.
In the viral video, Jay (@jabcd._) is standing in the middle of an empty classroom with seating for at least a dozen kids. Jay explains that he’s a paraprofessional, meaning he’s qualified to assist a teacher in the classroom, but doesn’t have the education and training to teach a classroom.
“I do not have a bachelor’s degree, no certifications, no accreditation whatsoever to be teaching a class full of specially educated kids,” Jay says.
Yet for the second day in a row, he’s allegedly been expected to do just that in his Tucson Unified School District classroom.
Despite Jay’s teacher letting the school know in advance that she couldn’t go to work, the school decided to let Jay take on the class instead of getting an actual substitute teacher.
Jay explained that many of his students are nonverbal and can’t tell their parents or guardian if they don’t have a teacher that day.
“So [the school gets] away with it,” Jay says.
He added that legally if the school is receiving federal funding, they must provide students who need it with a special education teacher that can meet their needs.
Jay says he’s been contracted to work at various schools, and the infraction is “happening everywhere.” He added that in every school he’s worked at, the special education teachers are always ready to quit, they have no support, and students are not getting the specialized support they’re entitled to under the law.
“This a human rights violation and no one’s talking about it case the kids can’t advocate for themselves,” Jay says.
The video has nearly 3 million views and more than 16,000 comments.
@jabcd._ Please share this message, more people need to know #TUSD #tucson #kids #teacher #specialeducation ♬ original sound – jay
After going viral, Jay alleged that he was fired, the school lied about him on the record, and he’s getting evicted because he “stood up and said, ‘This is illegal, you need to look into this.'”
“This is what happens. This is why nothing changes,” Jay says.
Jay had to start a GoFundMe to help pay his utilities, rent, and upcoming legal expenses.
Many commenters were upset on behalf of Jay and the students whose needs aren’t being met.
“This is so illegal… thank you for being honest and advocating for these innocent kids!” one person said.
“That’s also an IEP violation for each kid the parents can sue the F out of the school which means less funding for the school district,” another added.
“Yet the country has money for other things except education and safety of the ppl of our future,” a commenter pointed out.
In a statement on his GoFundMe Jay shared the following about his future goals:
“I want to create a trend and movement that brings to light the numerous and horrifying ways that TUSD and other schools/districts in Arizona are failing to serve the children within them. I want to share the illegal practices and policies enacted by administration and teachers that do an injustice to one of the most vulnerable and neglected communities. I want to advocate for and create a real change because our kids and we, as people, deserve better.”
We’ve reached out to Tucson Unified School District and Jay for comment.