I am speaking tonight out of concern on an issue I have learned about through speaking with employees at multiple school sites: Staff Safety.
Across at least a handful of sites, aggressive student behavior is adversely impacting the learning environment for not only teachers, but students as well.
It has been shared with me that teachers have been hit, kicked, and bit by students at multiple sites in 2018-19. In addition, students have caused destruction to classrooms by violently throwing classroom materials and even furniture across the room.
In one case dating back to last year, an RSP teacher reported that in September 2017 she suffered a concussion as the victim of a student punch to the right temple. The teacher was on leave until December 2017 as she suffered symptoms of lack of concentration, memory loss, and difficulty calculating numbers.
This fall, when she took on extra IEP’s beyond her mandated caseload maximum due to a vacancy at her site, she met with her administration as the severity of her symptoms had escalated due to the increased workload. She was next directed to meet with Risk Management, who reportedly placed her on an indefinite involuntary leave.
Teachers feel helpless and paralyzed in managing student aggression. They state they have been directed not to touch, hold, or restrain these students. Our teachers are trying to work within the parameters of Positive Behavior Intervention System (PBIS), yet they perceive this model equating to “No Consequences”
Certainly, our district needs to comply with State Laws and our IEP teams are mandated to place Special Education students in the “Least Restrictive Environment”. Yet at some point we need to set boundaries and consequences for such unruly behavior. We need a more balanced approach which considers the rights of all. We cannot practice a policy of appeasement to hostile parents and overzealous advocates who intimidate us by threatening litigation.
Our teachers deserve to teach to free of such aggression and students deserve a safe learning environment
I urge the district and board to seek more specific information from employees, assess this data, and respond proactively to protect our staff, students, and ultimately our District. Thank you.