Baltimore teachers and school employees are speaking out after a string of recent attacks by students, demanding stricter discipline for students who attack teachers and more safety controls in their workplace.
According to WJZ-TV, the incident that sparked the most recent protests from the students involved ninth-grader at the National Academy Foundation who allegedly punched and assaulted a school health worker. The worker claims that she suffered a mild concussion, bruising, bites, and ripped out hair in the attack.
According to the worker, the altercation began when she told the student she was not allowed to get a drink of water from her office. The worker also claims that this same student attacked a cafeteria worker earlier this year over a carton of milk.
Both the president of the Teacher's Union and the president of the Administrative Union issued statements of concern about the situation in Baltimore schools. Marietta English, the Teacher's Union president, said that the union and school board have formed a task force to "determine appropriate consequences for behavior like this."
Administrative Union president Jimmy Gittings called for a change to the Maryland law that has made it difficult to remove this student from school. According to WJZ, Gittings said, "It is appalling that this situation has occurred. It's difficult to remove this student from the building simply because the student is on disability and according to COMAR law, you can't remove a child on disability."
Baltimore teachers have been on edge over a string of violent incidents involving students that have happened in the last year. In early November, a student at Frederick Douglass High School was caught on tape punching a teacher in the face. A couple weeks later, a physics teacher at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute was punched by a student.
English has spoken out on previous occasions about what she perceives as a lack of accountability for students in Baltimore schools for students who hit teachers. She told the Baltimore Sun in November that, "What teachers fear the most is that there is no consequence for this behavior. Children have to understand that there are consequences for their behavior. You can not hit an adult and think there's not going to be consequences."
The string of incidents in Baltimore have merely highlighted what many say is a growing nationwide epidemic of violent student behavior directed at teachers during school hours.