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Former Teacher Says Special Ed. Requirements Come at Students' Expense

Former Teacher Says Special Ed. Requirements Come at Students' Expense



Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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Education Specialist Sandra Yi reporting

A Davis School District special education teacher who was fired for not completing his work says he deliberately refused to work overtime.

The teacher says he intended to prove a point that the district is more concerned with bureaucratic rules than with students. The district says the teacher is misguided.

The Davis School District fired Bruce Hinckley this summer for not fulfilling all his job requirements.

Hinckley says doing so would have been impossible without hurting his students' education.

Hinckley says he worked hundreds of extra hours as a special education teacher at North Davis Junior High School.

He shows a work diary that lists all his working hours.

"These numbers all add up to hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of hours that these special educators put in," Hinckley says.

He says the required paperwork was too much. It forced him to average 55 to 60 hours of work each week.

"I could have done it after school. I could have done it before school, but at what point do I have a right for a life?" Hinckley asks.

So Hinckley limited his work day to the minimum seven-and-a-half hours as outlined in the teacher contract.

But it wasn't enough to teach and do paperwork. Hinckley was fired in July for failing to meet his job requirements.

"The district's number one priority is paperwork. My number one priority was students," he says.

But the Davis School District says that paperwork is essential for students. Federal law requires that special education students have an individual education plan, or IEP. That's not the case for other students.

"Special education teachers are probably some of our most dedicated teachers. They work with the most challenging kids in our district, so they do have to put extra time in," says special education director Ellen Stantus.

"But that paperwork they have to do is indeed the lesson plan for our students and so it has to be done so they know what to teach," she says.

Stantus says it's not unlikely for teachers to finish their work in a reasonable amount of time.

But Hinckley says that's almost impossible when there aren't enough special education teachers to ease the work and class sizes.

"The Davis County School District has decided that it is better to balance the budget on the back of the disabled, and I would like to change that," Hinckley says.

He plans to file a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights. He says the district is not complying with state law, and therefore the students are not receiving services the law requires. The district maintains it is in compliance with state law.

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