Special education teachers came back from summer break to discover that both our department heads had resigned. We also discovered we were being assigned additional new work duties that required mastering new websites, policies, and procedures. Neither us nor our supervisors received adequate training, and we lagged at completing the new tasks despite working far past 4 pm everyday. When management responded by threatening to write up anyone who didn’t meet their arbitrary, impossible deadlines, special ed teachers started to quit. A group of concerned special ed teachers started to meet and wrote a letter to the head of school with our concerns. They never wrote a formal reply. Instead of fixing the problems they ended up increasing the size of our homeroom and caseloads even further. Things got so stressful that two teachers were ordered by their doctors to go out on stress leave!
With no sign of the situation abating, and with no action on our special education letters, teachers decided to pursue additional means to fix the problems. We discussed the special ed problems in our visits to legislators and district superintendents. We had discussions with oversight agencies in the California Department of Education. And recently, we consulted with an advocacy group called Worksafe, and decided that workplace stress for SPED teachers had reached such an extreme that it constituted a safety hazard. Teachers filed a complaint with the CAL-OSHA this past Tuesday, detailing how CAVA’s actions have created an unsafe work environment. OSHA will review the complaint, assign it a priority, and investigate whether CAVA has violated the law by not addressing teachers’ concerns.
It is very important that CAVA special education students receive the focused instruction they deserve. As special ed instructors, we believe it is our responsibility to advocate for them, and will continue to do so until these problems are fixed.