Teacher says she's being forced out of her job for complaining about classroom: 'I was pretty miserable'

Students rally behind teacher Anne Tweedy, who claims she is being forced to transfer after building materials in Bella Vista High School's new science building made her ill. (Photo: Change.org)

A high school teacher claims she’s being forced to transfer schools because her classroom is allegedly making her ill.

Anne Tweedy believes that materials used in the construction of Bella Vista High School's new science building in Fair Oaks, Calif. is what has caused her, and others, to become sick. However, according to The Fresno Bee, the San Juan Unified School District says the building is safe for both faculty and students — and they are not making Tweedy leave her job.

In September, Tweedy moved into the high school's science building and said she immediately started to experience nearly debilitating symptoms. She was unable to breathe, had a burning sensation in her chest and had severe headaches.

"A couple of teachers found me outside at the trash cans throwing up," Tweedy, who has been with the district for 24 years, told The Fresno Bee. "I did what I could to stay in the classroom, but I was pretty miserable."

Eventually, Tweedy's joints started to hurt and she was unable to move her hands. In February, school officials moved her classroom to another building. Instantly, she said, her symptoms disappeared.

However, last week, Tweedy was apparently told by San Juan Unified School District that she would have to return to the science building in the fall or transfer to another school.

The teacher was given a short deadline to decide and ultimately chose to transfer to Rio Americano High School in Arden Arcade. "I was forced out," she said. "No one can make a decision in a day and a half."

After learning that Tweedy, whose AP Biology passage rate is 95 percent, nearly double the nation's average, would not be returning to Bella Vista High School, students rallied behind their teacher. One of her students, Anthony Lam, 16, launched an online petition, "Fix the STEM building at Bella Vista HS to let Ms. Tweedy stay," which has nearly 2,000 signatures. On Tuesday night, students and parents attended a school board meeting to request that Tweedy remain at Bella Vista High School in a different building and that a further investigation be performed regarding what has caused the teacher, as well as three other teachers and two students, to become ill.

Student Olivia Aldinger is standing by her teacher. "If the STEM building is not safe for our teacher, then there is a possibility that the building is not safe for students either," she told The Fresno Bee.

The administration denies Tweedy’s claims. "No teacher is being asked to leave Bella Vista High School, but we do plan to return science courses to science-focused rooms able to compliment quality instruction and provide students the best experience to collaborate and engage in scientific inquiry," a statement from the school district, provided to The Fresno Bee, said. "To invest further funds in converting an old classroom to meet the standards provided by the new facility when no evidence of health concerns exist would be an inappropriate use of tax payer funds."

Testing was originally conducted when the science building opened in 2017 by third-party consulting groups.

"All testing showed indoor air quality that not only meets state and federal standards but meets or exceeds the more stringent standards of the US Green Building Council's LEED program," the statement read.

However, the science teacher performed her own tests, hypothesizing that the floors, or the adhesive, caused her symptoms. According to Tweedy, she found formaldehyde in places the district claimed there was none.

"In a meeting, the district told me finding a chemical that is out of the ordinary is like finding a needle in a haystack," she said. "I told them, well, that needle really hurts. They could find the needle, or they could just get rid of the floors."

"Should future concerns be raised, we will continue to investigate each fully and ensure the health and safety of our staff and students," the district's statement said.

Representatives for San Juan Unified School District and Bella Vista High School did not immediately respond to Yahoo Lifestyle's requests for comment.

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