Teacher fired for declaring lack of special education teachers at school

A teaching assistant has been fired and now faces eviction after his video calling out a school for not providing students with the special education teachers they needed went viral.

In the viral video, Jay (@jabcd._) stands in the middle of an empty classroom with seating for at least a dozen kids. Jay explains that he is a paraprofessional, meaning he is qualified to assist a teacher in the classroom but lacks the education and training to teach a classroom.

“I don’t have a bachelor’s degree, no certifications, no accreditation whatsoever to teach a class full of specially trained kids,” says Jay.

But for the second day in a row, he’s set to do just that in his Tucson Unified School District classroom.

Despite Jay’s teacher telling the school in advance that she couldn’t go to work, the school decided to let Jay take over the classes rather than finding an actual substitute teacher.

Jay explained that many of his students are nonverbal and cannot tell their parents or guardians if they don’t have a teacher that day.

“So [the school gets] Get rid of it,” says Jay.

He added that if the school receives federal funding, it has a legal obligation to provide students who need it with a special education teacher who can meet their needs.

Jay says he’s been contracted to work at different schools and the violation “happens everywhere.” He added that in every school he’s worked at, special education teachers are always willing to quit, they have no support, and students don’t get the specialized support they are entitled to by law.

“It’s a human rights violation and nobody talks about it if the kids can’t stand up for themselves,” says Jay.

The video has almost 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 claimed he was fired, the school lied about him on the record, and he was being kicked out because he “standed up and said, ‘This is illegal, you need to look at this.'”

“That’s what happens. That’s why nothing changes,” says Jay.

Jay had to start a GoFundMe to pay for his utilities, rent, and upcoming legal fees.

Many commenters were upset on behalf of Jay and the students whose needs are not being met.

“This is so illegal…thank you for being honest and standing up for these innocent children!” said one person.

“This is also an IEP violation for any child that parents can sue for the F out of school, which means less funding for the school district,” added another.

“But the country has money for other things besides education and security for the people of our future,” stressed one commenter.

In a statement on his GoFundMe, Jay shared the following about his future goals:

“I want to create a trend and a movement that will bring to light the numerous and horrific ways in which TUSD and other Arizona schools/districts are not serving the children in them. I want to share the illegal practices and policies of administration and teachers that are wronging one of the most vulnerable and neglected communities. I want to advocate and make real change because our children and we as human beings deserve better.”

We reached out to Tucson Unified School District and Jay for comment.


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*Initial publication: April 8, 2023 7:56 pm CDT

Stacy Fernandez

Stacy Fernández is a freelance writer, project manager and communications specialist. She has worked for The Texas Tribune, The Dallas Morning News and Social Social for The Education Trust New York. Her favorite hobby is finding hidden gems in thrift stores, she loves good audio books and is a chocolate enthusiast.

Stacy Fernandez

Jaclyn Diaz

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