Get Maxim Healthcare Services Out of Our Schools

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By Susan Anderson

As you go into your Winter Break I wanted to alert you to some very serious problems that you face in your schools. I have good news and bad news for you all. Please keep in mind that you have the power to correct the bad news I am about to tell you. I was a teacher in the Santa Barbara Unified School District and I have faith, admiration, and love for all of you. Because we are living in a time where leaders, who are adults, are so miserably failing all of us it is only natural that you become leaders in your own right. I know you’ll be successful.

First, let me tell you the bad news: the Santa Barbara Unified School District has done something unprecedented (not done before) and utterly harmful to you all. For the first time ever it has hired a privately held for profit corporation called Maxim Healthcare Services to staff para educator positions in Special Education classrooms throughout the district. The SBUSD did not tell any of you, and it didn’t have your consent (approval) to do so. Why is allowing Maxim Healthcare Services such a dangerous and destructive thing? It’s because the SBUSD by law has to hire individual para educators, it cannot hire a for profit corporation that is only there to make money. By law, all of you are allowed a “fair and appropriate” public education. Introducing Maxim Healthcare Services breaks many, many laws because it is a direct threat to your safety. I know there must be some questions here, so let me explain more.

Maxim Healthcare Services has committed multiple serious felonies: in 2011 it had to pay $150,000,000 to the Department of Justice as a part of a Deferred Prosecution Agreement because it had been defrauding Medicare and the Department of Veterans Affairs of $61,000,000. Do you want such people around your personal information? No, you don’t and neither do your parents. You all want real teachers. Maxim has “mutually beneficial partnerships with juvenile and adult correctional centers, public school systems and state run medical facilities”. That means they make money with children’s jails. Does that sound like the kind of education you want? Again, the answer is no. As a teacher I am required to report child abuse to the State, but what can I do if the State itself is abusing children? I guess I can only appeal directly to the children themselves.

There is another ugly fact about Maxim Healthcare Services: they are the #3 Contractor for ICE in the State of California. That means that ICE is essentially working in the school district, and Maxim Healthcare Services cannot say that it isn’t. The contract Maxim Healthcare Services  has with ICE is worth a whopping $70,000,000!!! Holy moly, that’s a lot of money! That’s one of the reasons they’re there: to find out information and turn little kids over to ICE. All someone would have to do is ask a little kid if their parents have papers. The conversation would go like this: “Juan, does your mommy have papers or is she worried about it?” A six year old would give someone the truth. Kids would even turn each other in for money or out of revenge. Maxim Healthcare Services makes schools very unsafe. This is how you would destroy education, period.

Remember, the SBUSD has hired a for profit corporation, not individual people. No one has interviewed these people- they are strangers! I’ve met some very nice people from Maxim Healthcare Services who are unaware that they’re working for such a bad and dangerous corporation. Not surprisingly, Maxim Healthcare Services has apparently been telling it’s employees that they cannot apply to the SBUSD for the first six months into their contract, which, if true, is flatly illegal. Their employees could take them to court if that is what has been happening. The SBUSD didn’t inform the Maxim Healthcare Services employees that they could even apply to the district, but apparently they’ve hired some of the good employees, but that in and of itself presents an issue because of what Maxim Healthcare Services is and has been. 

The good news, kids and parents, is that you are in the driver’s seat!!! You can kick them out! Here’s how: organize a protest- pick a day, or even days, to boycott schools until the SBUSD gets Maxim Healthcare Services OUT of your precious public schools. Invite adults who are very wonderful to apply for para educator positions- they need to pass a background check and be good citizens. It’s a job many people could do- they just have to be a great person. Santa Barbara has many great people!

Starting in January of 2019 I wrote multiple emails to the School Board, yet they chose to re-hire Maxim Healthcare Services. I’ve never had to deal with people so out of touch with what the children really need. Talk about an utter failure to protect your basic rights. The fact that many teachers didn’t tell you or your parents about Maxim Healthcare Services even though they knew about it is beyond disappointing. How you and your parents handle the fact that so many knew about this but declined to do the right things is something that as a community you’ll have to reckon with. There are tons of good teachers and para educators that can be recruited. Teaching is SO WONDERFUL and we need twice as many teachers and para educators- we especially need men and men of color. The SBUSD has a hard time keeping para educators because they pay them below poverty wages and they do some of the hardest work. Support those who want to support you. Teachers who are unkind or harmful can be weeded out when more and more positive, well trained, and fairly paid teachers are hired. That’s a proven fact.

American Government teachers are going to have fun with this, it’s a teachable moment. Maxim Healthcare Services appeared shortly after Betsy DeVos was appointed Secretary of Education by Mike Pence. She wasn’t elected to that position. DeVos won’t release the financial details of Maxim Healthcare Service’s contracts or where they are located. I keep asking her on Twitter but she doesn’t want to answer obviously. Where they are and how much they are making are a total mystery. California has Maxim Healthcare Services in 55 school districts from what I know. I believe they’re making at least $1,000,000 per contract... if so, that would a cost of $55,000,000 to the taxpayers a year. California sends 53 Representatives to the House of Representatives in Congress. If Maxim Healthcare Services was evenly distributed through all 50 states it would mean that we taxpayers are spending approximately $432,000,000 million a year on this outfit. And, absolutely no Trump voter voted for this, even though it is like taking the rug out from under the feet of their own children’s education. Why does a for profit corporation with ties to “state run hospitals” want to be around kids, our kids aren’t sick? Why would school districts not tell students or parents? What is the effect of knowing that ICE’s #3 Contractor (in CA) is putting unvetted people on campus, specifically with the most vulnerable populations? 

When I worked alongside Maxim Healthcare Services earlier this year I saw absolute destruction on so, so, so many levels. Maxim employees would be transferred in and out of classrooms and schools at a moment’s notice. They’d receive texts or emails telling them they needed to go somewhere else the next day. Usually they’d been there just long enough to get to know the kids and the routine a little and then they’d be gone. The sad thing was that a lot of the kids KNEW what was happening and were sad about it. It was the most UNPROFESSIONAL and DESTRUCTIVE thing I’ve seen. Remember, the school district is just relying on Maxim to provide the staff at any given day- that is so dangerous, especially when you’re working in Special Education. Kids HAVE to have stability—- this was literally preventing education to happen. Maxim Healthcare Services says that it has trained and gone through a bunch of qualifications but that is nothing compared to the outright damage I saw being done. A Maxim Healthcare Services employee who had been hired the week before was passed off as having the qualifications needed to work with some of the most precious and vulnerable children. This Maxim employee actually left a student in Special Education downtown by themselves. That’s when I quit: I knew the kids were in danger frankly. Also, in early June of 2019 Maxim Healthcare Services posted an on Craigslist for para educators saying that it especially encouraged “veterans with service-related disabilities” to apply. Any veterans with “service-related disabilities” should not work for $16/hour around some of the most volatile kids in our school system. Veterans deserve our respect, attention, and support in ways that are as healing and productive as possible. That CL ad should remove any doubt about whether or not this outfit has anyone’s best interest, let along public education, at heart.

Undoubtedly this situation will make people very, very upset. Students, parents and school staff are in the driver’s seat here, so it’s up to all of you to come together and change it.  People protest, the boycott, they have sit-ins and teach-ins, adults should offer you free pizzas for your troubles. Adults need to be here to support you, and they will be. Be creative yet speak your minds. We all have the power to make schools even greater than they ever have been.

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pstarSR Dec 25, 2019 12:43 PM
Get Maxim Healthcare Services Out of Our Schools

Im sorry you feel like this is bad. thanks for the info. Everyone here is paid below "poverty" level. not just teachers, so I cant imagine they will magically come up with a fix. but you really should pick a topic and stick to it. So far you didn't give any reasonable remedies for this issue. next time, come up with something to do other than protest. I do have to say though, Im getting very tired of people writing op-eds that sound like the sky is falling and this is paramount to just setting the school on fire and walking away. Doom and Gloom is mainstream medias fortay, lets leave it to them.

a-1577444893 Dec 27, 2019 03:08 AM
Get Maxim Healthcare Services Out of Our Schools

I had not known of these concerns, and I appreciate being appraised. It's almost enough for me to keep an eye on my 401k. I don't want to invest in parent companies of for-profit holding facilities or jails. I'm very glad the author made the effort.
I do NOT agree that everyone here is paid below "poverty" level!

a-1577322883 Dec 25, 2019 05:14 PM
Get Maxim Healthcare Services Out of Our Schools

This is a long article. It seems that the author does not like Maxim Healthcare Services. It would be useful to have a brief summary of the problem, e.g. shorter than 100 words- and also a couple of proposed solutions. Maybe the author can present this here in the comments section?

jqb Dec 25, 2019 06:10 PM
Get Maxim Healthcare Services Out of Our Schools

Many of the issues here may be valid, but the presentation is awful. Learn how to write in a professional manner and logical manner, with citations to sources that support your claims.

mast8 Dec 26, 2019 06:45 PM
Get Maxim Healthcare Services Out of Our Schools

Pitmix - I think this might be a legitimate and serious issue, but the author is not supporting their point of view with any citations or references, and the outraged, petulant tone (lots of ALL CAPS and !!!) doesn't inspire trust in this writer. If this is really such an important issue it deserves a better spokesperson. This author is just relying on the modern formula of stoking outrage by making lots of noise. We're all jaded by the torrent of manipulation and misinformation on the internet, so we all need to be held to a higher standard of discourse. Otherwise it's just more noise.

a-1577445331 Dec 27, 2019 03:15 AM
Get Maxim Healthcare Services Out of Our Schools

If it is important it deserves to be known. I read the entire article yesterday. Upon review I found approximately six (6) words capitalized that were not acronyms. I look forward to the school district's response. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I also can somewhat understand using an agency. It's just what almost any and all of us do who have any spare money to help us care for family members. We give a lot for some respite and assistance. The school district is trying to spend its $$ best it can. I hate it too, but it involves paying little for aides/caregivers. This issue is only going to grow in intensity and importance in the next 5-25 years. Hello to the Gray Wave/Boom! Assisted euthanasia will soon become popular and I'm glad for that.

a-1577445701 Dec 27, 2019 03:21 AM
Get Maxim Healthcare Services Out of Our Schools

I mean assistance for elders who make a request months before the act, as I had to for my sterilization. We better get ready for care for old people who want to die "naturally," with medical support. And aid for those physically and mentally disabled who need and/or benefit from supported group living situations. Okay, let's throw more into the mix: aid for the mentally ill who do/would benefit from assisted group living. Ya'll ready to pay up? I am.

a-1577374858 Dec 26, 2019 07:40 AM
Get Maxim Healthcare Services Out of Our Schools

What is the school district's response? Thanks for bringing this to our attention. Sounds as if this is an issue in need of attention. Appreciate your writing this.

VinSB Dec 26, 2019 01:01 PM
Get Maxim Healthcare Services Out of Our Schools

This seems to be written for a student audience (SBUSD students), however it is unlikely that many of them read Edhat or would take an interest in this topic.

a-1577411620 Dec 26, 2019 05:53 PM
Get Maxim Healthcare Services Out of Our Schools

I'd like to thank the writer. Negative comments about her ability or style of writing by some is entirely missing the importance of what she is revealing, and that is what the focus should be on. Essentially, the children will suffer from the contracting with Maxim. This is an easy way for GUSD to avoid having to do the job of interviewing, hiring and supervising qualified teachers, which would probably cost much less than the Maxim payments, but cause more "work" for the high paid administrators.

Factotum Dec 26, 2019 06:05 PM
Get Maxim Healthcare Services Out of Our Schools

Administrators work 12 months a year, teachers only 9 months. That gives a superficial impression Administrators are "highly paid", when compared to teachers. However, in general make pretty much the same hourly rate - but each group chooses to work either more or less per year. Thus creating what looks like a compensation disparity, which the teachers union exploits for political purposes. Check it out on Transparent California for real facts and figures per position held in any school district. Teachers unions create the need to more and more administrators, the more ED Code regulations they pass. Even a hint of an EdCode violation the the teachers unions is all over the district administration - no wonder they need to many administrative job slots - just to keep the teachers union happy. Time for a truce in this teacher union constant attack on the administrators .Both need each other so stop the internecine warfare. You are wasting our tax dollars and our students do not get the education they need while the adults internally take pot shots at each other.

macpuzl Dec 27, 2019 10:51 AM
Get Maxim Healthcare Services Out of Our Schools

When evaluating claims like this, you should consider the source, which is neither transparent, nor California.

"Transparent California" is just one of the many names used by the tax-exempt "free-market think tank" Nevada Policy Research Institute (NPRI). NPRI refuses to divulge its own funding sources, stating, “NPRI respects the privacy of our donors, which includes the amount of a donor’s gift”.

NPRI's primary funding source, as determined by The Conservative Transparency Project, is Donors Capital Fund, a dark-money source of funding for conservative groups. Its donors also include The Cato Institute, co-founded by the Koch brothers, and organizations affiliated with the climate change denial movement.

NPRI spends 75% of its revenue on six-figure salaries and benefits. Its goal is to undermine support for employee unions nationwide, thereby decreasing salaries and increasing corporate profits.

a-1577466848 Dec 27, 2019 09:14 AM
Get Maxim Healthcare Services Out of Our Schools

New but ancient news: "The Trump administration awarded billions of dollars in contracts for private companies to operate immigration detention centers in California —- less than two weeks before a new state law takes effect to prohibit them."

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