Teaching Assistant Says He Was Fired After Pushing Back Against School Who Put Him In Charge Of A Non-Verbal Class — 'It's A Human Rights Violation'

He claims he was fired for speaking out.

A teaching assistant on TikTok TikTok

An Arizona teacher's assistant revealed that he was suddenly fired after pushing back against the school administration's request for him to teach a class that he was not qualified to be teaching.

In multiple videos posted to his TikTok account, Jay, who worked as a paraprofessional, which is a teaching assistant who provides instructional services to students under the general supervision of a certified teacher, for the Tuscon Unified School District, is calling out both the school district and the superintendent for wrongfully terminating his job position.


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Jay explained that he was left in charge of a special needs class despite not having the proper training to do so.

In Jay's initial video of the entire debacle, he explained that he was asked to watch and teach a special education class, despite only being a paraprofessional and not a licensed teacher. While in the classroom, which was void of children at that moment, Jay decided to document the experience.

"I am not a special education teacher," he acknowledged. "I do not have a bachelor's degree, no certifications, no accreditations whatsoever to be teaching a class full of specially educated kids."




Jay continued, saying that as he was recording the video, this was the second day that he and several other unlicensed paraprofessionals were being asked to teach the special education class. He claimed that the school was aware that the appropriate special education teacher was not going to be in.

Instead of trying to get a qualified substitute teacher, Jay said the administration knew they could "rely on us," and didn't want to search for the right person to teach the class. 

"These kids are nonverbal, they can't tell their parents if they don't have a teacher," he pointed out. "And so, they get away with it. If the school receives federal funding, these kids need to have a special education teacher here."


Jay stressed that this was a "human rights violation" and encouraged viewers to look into the Tuscon Unified School District because instances like the one he had experienced were happening in other schools around the city.

"Every class, every school that I've been contracted to go to, the teacher is always ready to quit. There's no support, [and] no individualized education programs are being met. No one's talking about it because these kids can't advocate for themselves."

Many Arizona public school students with special needs are not able to receive the appropriate school funding they need.

According to AZ Central, the Arizona Department of Education hasn't studied special education costs since 2009. While Arizona law used to require a cost study every two years, lawmakers were eventually able to get rid of the law altogether.

"As far as we understand, no money has been appropriated since 2007 for the cost study," Stefan Swiat, a spokesperson for the Department of Education told the publication. 


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Since the law was struck, the number of special needs children enrolled in public schools has greatly increased. Nearly 13,000 students diagnosed with autism attended Arizona schools in the 2017-2018 school year, accounting for about 9 percent of the state's students with disabilities. 

Heidi Keefer an administrator of special services, told AZ Central, "It's really hard to find classified staff to support students in the classroom, and we have to contract through other agencies. We just don't have the pool we used to have." 


In a follow-up video, Jay revealed that he was eventually fired for the video he had made about the issue.

Jay's initial video about being left in charge of a special needs classroom managed to gain enough traction that school administrators at the school he taught for, and the superintendent of the district eventually saw it.

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In response, Jay revealed that he was promptly fired for "violating the social media contracts" of the school and for "unprofessionalism in the workplace." 


"They fired me and lied about me on a record," he said, explaining that the superintendent of Tuscon Unified School District, Gabriel Trujillo, gave an interview and said that Jay was actually fired for lying on his resume, something he vehemently denies ever happened.

Instead, Jay claims that he was fired for trying to expose the unjust way the school district was treating their special needs students by not hiring the proper teachers for their classrooms. As a result of losing his job, Jay was also given an eviction notice as he was no longer able to continue paying his rent without income.

"Now I'm getting evicted too because I stood up and I said this is illegal, you need to look into this. This is what happens, this is why nothing changes," he stressed.


Jay has since started a GoFundMe campaign to help continue paying his rent and living expenses. His goal of $25,000 has almost been reached with $24,382 in donations having been made so far.

"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," he wrote in the campaign's description.

"I want to advocate for and create a real change because our kids and we, as people, deserve better."

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Nia Tipton is a writer living in Brooklyn. She covers pop culture, social justice issues, and trending topics.