Forty-five teachers in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, resigned during the past few months because, they claim, students acted violently towards them.
The unprecedented number of resignations in the Harrisburg School District prompted some teachers with the Harrisburg Education Association (HEA) to ask the school board Monday for more support in dealing with unruly students, WPMT reports.
The HEA claimed that students’ unruly behavior caused at least 45 teachers to resign between July and October, and members of the teachers’ union say that more resignations have taken place since then.
“Teachers and students are being hit, kicked, slapped, scratched, cussed at … and observing other students flip over tables, desks, and chairs. Teachers have had to take the rest of their class into the hallway to protect them during these outbursts,” HEA President Jody Barksdale told the Patriot-News.
First-grade teacher Amanda Sheaffer, who has worked for the school district for four years, claims she has witnessed students’ bad behavior personally.
“I have been hit, I have been kicked, I have been restrained from behind where I’ve been unable to move my arms,” she said, adding, “It really throws off the whole day. I mean, you have an incident happen and you have to do a room clear, get all the students out, and then after that, you have to take the time to do the write-up, and you have to make sure security comes and gets the kids.”
Harrisburg School District Superintendent Sybil Knight-Burney says that while administrators would work with teachers on the issue, the solution to the problem comes down to parent involvement.
“Once we meet and find out that there are needs that we need to have serviced, that means it’s going to take parent involvement to make that happen,” said Knight-Burney.
The HEA says the complaints come from three to four different schools in the district but would not specify the schools involved.
The Harrisburg School District released a statement responding to the HEA’s claims, slamming members of the teachers’ union for spending more time getting on their soapboxes than engaging in productive discussions with the district: “In response to the Harrisburg School District’s Collective Bargaining Group and earlier statements made to the media concerning issues facing our District, we find it unfortunate that our teacher organization has chosen to engage in public discourse opposed to factual and substantive discussions. The District is committed to promoting a safe and healthy work and learning environment for our faculty, staff and students. As we all can agree, student achievement is our primary mission.”