School District to Re-Hire ICE Collaborating Corporation?
By Susan Anderson
Instead of hiring “para educators” the Santa Barbara Unified School District (SBUSD) has hired a for-profit corporation with a lengthy criminal record to work with Special Needs students. Maxim Healthcare Services was hired to staff “para educators,” but the kids with Special Needs are not sick- they simply need educators. The SBUSD is legally mandated by the State of California to hire para educators for students with a whole range of disabilities- some mild, some severe. The SBUSD has failed to do this, yet it seems to accomplish so much else.
Who are Maxim? They have ties to adult and juvenile detention centers, they had to pay $150,000,000 to the government and enter into a deferred prosecution agreement because of a criminal complaint of defrauding Medicare and Veterans Affairs office to the tune of $61,000,000. They co-operate with ICE.
The SBUSD didn’t even let the public know there was a corporation that co-operates with ICE on campus. Their Craigslist ad encourages Veterans with “service-connected disabilities” to work as para educators—- that’s not a good idea. Having wounded or traumatized Veterans work with kids who can be volatile and impulsive is a terrible idea and as a parent, I’d want an educator with a peaceful, well-rounded background. SpEd para educators work with some behaviors that will challenge anyone... again, how could a corporation think that it would be appropriate to hire that specific demographic?
We don’t know who the Maxim employees are because they are brought in by Maxim. There is no vetting by the District as far as I know - I don’t believe THE District DIDN’T EVEN TOLD THE MAXIM EMPLOYEES THEY COULD APPLY TO WORK THERE AT ANY TIME!!! Apparently some Maxim employees thought they couldn’t apply to the District. It’s reckless to a criminal degree to do that to kids and adults . These are special needs kids who DEPEND on the SBUSD to hire staff to educate them.
When I was working at the SBUSD a Maxim employee left a disabled kid downtown by themselves because they needed to Uber somewhere for an appointment. Why the district has been able to get away with this is beyond me. Another MAXIM employee was paid to break a strike in the Bay Area and then got right back into his temp job at the District.
If I were a student or a parent I wouldn’t feel comfortable sending my kids to school with Maxim in it. I can’t IMAGINE how the kids who’ve been affected by ICE will feel knowing that there are adults who work for a corporation that cooperates with ICE. That will make some kids not want to come to school; it will make others furious. The Maxim employees themselves will have unpleasant experiences.
I know kids, they have a FAR BETTER sense of justice than a lot of adults. I’ve been a teacher for well over a decade and the kids deserve better. The SBUSD has all summer left to do the right thing and hire para educators (that means they’ll have to start working hard). It can and HAS to be done. Spread the word, contact the school board and SBUSD. They have to hire para educators for our wonderful kids by law.
Do you have an opinion on something local? Share it with us at. The views and opinions expressed in Op-Ed articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of edhat.