Family says CFISD student with autism was kicked out of school program due to teacher shortage

CYPRESS, Texas (KTRK) – A Cy-Fair family says their child with special needs was heartbroken after not being able to participate in a school program due to what they believe is a growing shortage of teachers . The family say the 8-year-old was unable to participate because there was no member of staff available to be with him during the performance.

Sean Burton is a bright and sweet little boy. He’s on the autism spectrum, but that doesn’t stop him from wanting to enjoy a normal life like all other kids his age. His family appreciates every moment of joy he receives, but recently they told ABC13 that his light is dim.

SEE ALSO: More than 20,000 students in HISD classrooms without a certified teacher, 13 Investigates finds

“I had a hard time telling him he couldn’t play. I just told him it was off,” Sean’s grandmother, Dawn Tobias, said.

Tobias says all the second graders at Moore Elementary School were getting ready for a musical performance last week. But a few hours before the show started, the family received a call saying that due to some difficulties Sean had had in rehearsal, a member of staff should stand by his side.

“Unfortunately, there were no staff to hang out with him that day. Therefore, he was unable to participate in the program. Part of his IEP is that he is supposed to have someone from available. I don’t care if it’s the director who has to step in. Do your job,” Tobias continued.

The teacher shortage is the talk of the town. According to a report by the University of Houston, from 2010 to 2019, the number of teachers statewide dropped by about 20%. In a Charles Butt Foundation survey, of 919 teachers in Texas last year, 68% said they were seriously considering leaving the profession in 2021, which is a 10 percentage point increase from the previous year.

According to these recent studies and polls, concerns over COVID-19 and feelings of overwork and underpayment have been a reason many teachers have left.

Governor Greg Abbott recently appointed a task force to examine the shortage, recommend policy changes to the state’s education agency and consider greater flexibility in the teacher certification process.

SEE ALSO: Texas Education Agency to Create Task Force to Examine Teacher Shortage Under Governor Abbott

Regardless of these issues, Tobias, like many others, has reasonable expectations every time she drops her student off.

“I believe there’s a problem, you know? But it’s not our problem,” she said.

We contacted Cy-Fair ISD about Sean, but due to spring break we were unable to get a response by phone or email. We are told that they are working on our request.

For more updates on this story, follow Erica Simon on Facebook, Twitter and instagram.

Copyright © 2022 KTRK-TV. All rights reserved.