Occupational and Physical Therapists will be joined on the steps of Tweed by parent leaders Paullette Ha-Healy, 1st VP of the Citywide Council of Special Education and Kaliris Salas-Ramirez, Manhattan Borough Representative to the Panel for Educational Policy. They demand that OTs & PTs receive pay parity with other school-based support team members in the next contract negotiated between the UFT and DOE.
The proposed city budget slashes school spending; a move that will only worsen the outcomes for the city’s most vulnerable students. Students in Special Education have for decades been denied adequate resources and personnel to meet their needs.
OTs and PTs along with parent allies believe adequate compensation, space and resources for therapy must be supplied to ensure we emerge from the pandemic with learning conditions that allow our students with disabilities to thrive.
According to Marilena Marchetti, Occupational Therapist and UFT Delegate, “OTs and PTs voted down the 2019 contract proposed by the city in a move unprecedented in two decades. We want to negotiate with the city in good faith this time around by making our demands clear as day. Officials need to be aware that in no major city do OTs and PTs receive less pay than their colleagues in Special Education (i.e. Speech therapists, Counselors, Teachers, etc.). In NYC, it’s not uncommon to see students receiving therapy in hallways and closets. It is time to end the pay and resource disparity OTs & PTs endure and prove to parents that disabled students’ needs matter.”
According to Hannah Fleury, Occupational Therapist and UFT Executive Board Member, “I worked after school most of the year giving compensatory OT services to students as part of the federal government’s CoViD-19 recovery program. Despite this program being fully funded, I was not paid for over three (3) months. As a public employee, I was denied the right to file a complaint of wage theft. While my work may seem to mean nothing to the DOE, the families I support depend on it. This is why parents support our fight for parity, resources and respect.”