SANTA ANA, Calif. – The Santa Ana Unified School District is the second largest school district in Orange County and it is also the second largest employer in Santa Ana, providing job opportunities to about 5,000 employees.
Eddie Leon is one of those employees. He’s a day custodian. His job is a point of pride.
“I love being able to provide services to my community so I’m here to stay,” said Leon.
He’s been with the district for close to 20 years.
When students stayed home Leon kept working. He’s worked all summer and expects to work this fall. Lately he’s been the one to disinfect a workspace when a district employee tests positive for COVID-19.
“Instead of running the other way we run to the area of concern,“ said Leon.
Leon is considered a classified worker. Lunch ladies, maintenance workers, custodians—these are all classified workers.
Andrea Rojas also falls under this umbrella. Unlike Leon, Rojas is very happy to be working from home. She’s a single mother and the only one with a job in her household right now.
“I kept hearing about teachers being asked to jeopardize their lives. Students are being asked to jeopardize their lives, but no one was talking about classified employees,” said Rojas.
Both Rojas and Leon are part of a union, the Classified School Employees Association. They agree without the union’s protection there’s a good chance they’d be unemployed.
Yet his employment puts Leon directly in harm’s way.
“My main concern as a father is to provide for my family, also to keep them safe and in order to do that I have to work,” said Leon.
The first day of school for the SAUSD is August 17.