Officials of the San Gabriel Teachers Association are relieved. In a different way, so is Ava Shaw. Shaw, 52, a resident of Pasadena, California, had taught special education at Jefferson Middle School in nearby San Gabriel for several years. She also headed the SGTA for four years. After she left to take a job at a private school, her past caught up with her. She was arrested and eventually pleaded no contest this past February to thefts from her union totaling around $85,000. On May 28, Shaw was sentenced in Alhambra (Los Angeles County) Superior Court to three years probation, and ordered to complete 120 days of community service and repay $64,000 in stolen union funds. A second teacher, Jennifer Boyd (now Boyd-Oliver), also had been charged in the case; she pleaded no contest to theft of a much smaller amount. Like Shaw, she was placed on three years probation, and will have to perform 45 days of community service.
Shaw and Boyd-Oliver used checks and credit cards issued by the SGTA, an affiliate of the National Education Association, to pay for personal expenses, especially unauthorized vacations to New York, Lake Tahoe, the Virgin Islands and other locales during June 2001-September 2004. At her sentencing hearing, Shaw admitted her behavior was “cavalier,” and apologized to union members. Though her teaching credentials were revoked, she expressed a desire to teach special education again sometime. Boyd-Oliver, for her part, will retain her credentials. Union officials are glad to be out of the spotlight. “I’m glad it’s over. It’s been a very long and brutal journey,” said current SGTA President Katherine Hill. Ava Shaw and Jennifer Boyd-Oliver couldn’t have said it better.