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Ukrainian refugee learns violence at San Fran public school is so bad that she wants to return to war-torn country
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Ukrainian refugee learns violence at San Fran public school is so bad that she wants to return to war-torn country

A Ukraine teenager who fled who her war-torn country last year and settled in San Francisco wants to return to her homeland after experiencing the violence of San Francisco's public school system.

Yana, a 13-year-old Ukrainian teenager, began eighth grade at Marina Middle School in January. But she quickly learned that life in America, especially as a vulnerable teenager, does not match the idyllic picture that many non-Americans may have about life here.

"I thought it was going to be better because it’s San Francisco," she told the San Francisco Chronicle, as translated by her aunt. "But after two days, I saw everything going on at the school."

Yana told the newspaper that she has witnessed students repeatedly interrupt classes, cause disturbances, and blatantly disrespect teachers — all without disciplinary consequences. "Nothing happened," Yana said, admitting she realized the behavior was "normal" for the school.

Unfortunately, Yana, having escaped war, became a bullying target. She allegedly had her cellphone stolen, and a group of students threatened her. The incidents, instilling fear in Yana, caused her to stop going to school. Her family requested that she be moved to a different school, but the school district denied the request. She has not returned to school since.

More from the Chronicle:

Yana just wants to go back to her hometown in central Ukraine, back to the only school she knew before the war, even as her mom and aunt have started to research camps and other programs in San Francisco to occupy the summer months.

More than 8 million Ukrainians have fled their homeland over the last year following Russia's invasion in 2022. Nearly a quarter million of those refugees had been resettled in the U.S. as of December, President Joe Biden said days before Christmas.

Anything else?

Unfortunately, violence at Marina Middle School, in particular, is no surprise.

Last month, the San Francisco Examiner reported on the horrible student behavior occurring at the school.

Teachers, counselors and security staff who have left or are still working at the Fillmore Street school report that recent incidents include students recording videos of themselves as they beat another student, three female students assaulting a special-education student, and a student bringing an air gun to school — all without documented suspensions at the time of those incidents.

Meanwhile, teachers and counselors report there are five to 15 students in the hallway much of the time while classes are in session. The students scream at teachers, throw food at each other and intimidate other students, some of whom are afraid to go to the bathroom.

The situation, which the Examiner described as "barely controlled chaos," has resulted in significant staffing turnover at the school, which only exacerbates existing problems.

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