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Salt Lake City: Shortage of SPED teachers/staff; hundreds assaulted by students

Dec 7, 2018, CBS2, Salt Lake City: Shortage of special ed teachers leaves school staff vulnerable to violence Jamie Moffitt had a substitute teacher job lined up at Rose Springs Elementary in Tooele County. She was excited — she was about to do what she’d always wanted to do: Work with kids. The morning, however, started with some concerning warnings from people who greeted her at the school’s front desk. Seasoned school staffers told Moffitt she should change her clothes to something more durable, and she certainly needed to take out her earrings because, by the end of the day, one of the special education students she would be working with would surely rip them out. … Those initial feelings of elation soon changed, however, when Moffitt, paired with a student school officials admit was the most challenging in Tooele County, began to be assaulted on a regular basis. By her sixth month, Moffitt says she had been bitten more than 100 times, had her hair pulled more than 100 times, had suffered three concussions, and had gone to the hospital three times as well. During all of this, Moffitt says she never got any training, with the exception of sexual harassment guidelines. … Moffitt believes the district kept her in the classroom because they simply had no one else to do the job. Jackson says he has a concerning shortage of special education teachers. He says he has 75 but could use 100. Tooele is not the only district with this problem. There is a critical shortage of special education teachers and assistants nationwide. That shortage puts under-trained assistants like Moffitt at risk. Beyond the Books requested Worker’s Compensation information from every district in Utah. Based on that data, staffers working with special education students are far and away in the most dangerous jobs in Utah schools. Over the past three years in the state's largest districts — Alpine, Granite and Canyons —nearly 400 cases, or 70 percent of worker's compensation claims from those districts, were filed by school staff who were assaulted by students in special education classrooms. …


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