The pending eviction of a special education aide for using appliances in her Mission District home caused an uproar among San Francisco public school teachers Thursday, as the school district struggles to hold onto educators amid the housing crisis.
The United Educators of San Francisco, which represents teachers and paraprofessionals in the San Francisco Unified School District, joined anti-eviction activists in a protest outside a technology company in South of Market where one of the teacher’s new landlords works.
About 25 protesters came out one day after the SFUSD announced pay incentives for teachers and instructional aides who are new or willing to be reassigned to 170 vacant special education positions in the school district.
Michelle Malliett, a special education aide at an elementary school in Noe Valley who also works as an after school teacher at an early education program in the Mission, has lived with her daughter in an in-law unit near 20th and Hampshire streets since 2007.
But on March 11, less than two weeks after new owners took control of her home, the landlords issued an eviction notice for causing a nuisance by using gas and electrical appliances.
“It’s been hell,” Malliett said.
“I was born and raised here,” she added. “I’m not going to be pushed out. I’ll go out fighting.”
Attempts to reach Malliett’s new landlords Catherine Crevels and Mathieu Verbeeck and their attorney were unsuccessful.
Joseph Tobener, a tenant rights attorney who is representing Malliett, said the landlords are using a “loophole” to skirt existing regulations around evictions.
“These cases are really expensive to defend and the landlord knows that the tenant is going to be left holding the bag,” Tobener said. “You’ve got a teacher against owners, and the teacher is having to spend a whole bunch of money defending her tenancy.”
Malliett said she would not be able to stay in San Francisco if she is evicted.
When special educational aide positions go vacant, schools are often forced to rearrange staff or violate the Individualized Education Plans that connect students with disabilities to unique services, said Matthew Hardy, a spokesperson for the teachers union.
“Losing a veteran paraprofessional teacher like Michelle is just devastating for the students she serves,” Hardy said.