|
|
Southwest Daily News - Sulphur, LA
  • Calcasieu Parish School Board hears shocking tales of student behavior, discipline problems

  • Fear of bodily harm is not something a person normally expects to face in their workplace. Adults expect a certain level of conduct from other adults and protective action if that conduct turns violent. But what if the violence in the workplace comes from children? In Calcasieu Parish, many teachers are going to school with a fear that they might be assaulted by their own students.


    • email print
  • Fear of bodily harm is not something a person normally expects to face in their workplace. Adults expect a certain level of conduct from other adults and protective action if that conduct turns violent. But what if the violence in the workplace comes from children? In Calcasieu Parish, many teachers are going to school with a fear that they might be assaulted by their own students.
    While most students go to school to get an education and do not cause any disciplinary problems, there are those students who disrespect their teachers and even cause bodily harm to their teachers. The cases of teachers being threatened and battered in the classroom appear to be growing. While this is a grave cause for concern, perhaps even more disconcerting are reports that these students often face little to no disciplinary action.
    According to Jean Johnson, President of the Calcasieu Federation of Teachers and School Employees (CFT), the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports Program (PBIS) does not work for 20 percent of students. She and her colleague Rick Kuykendall made a presentation titled "A Comparison of PBIS, Student Code of Conduct, Louisiana Law and The Teacher's Bill of Rights" at the Calcasieu Parish School Board’s Curriculum and Instruction Committee meeting on Tuesday night. After receiving the presentation, School Board members expressed their shock and promised to see that the matter be "tackled seriously".
    According to a report by the CFT, the following are a just a few of the incidents that have been reported:
    •A teacher at one school was choked by a high school student and pushed over a desk backwards. His injury required surgery. This happened several months ago and he is still out of school because of the injury. The student was suspended and then returned to school. The teacher filed charges and was told if he pressed charges, the police would read him his rights as well.
    •A male high school student was brought to school in handcuffs, released into the student population and was reportedly involved in a fight before first period. Sometime later this same student threw a rock and struck a female teacher in the head. She has pressed charges and he was arrested but he has not been expelled.
    •A paraprofessional and the classroom teacher at an elementary school were constantly kicked, hit, slapped, spit upon and had hair pulled by a student. They received numerous bite marks, bruises and abrasions. While helping the student get on the bus, he pushed the para down and injured her foot. She wore a cast and was out of work for sometime. This was reported to her principal and nothing was done until CFT intervened.
    With the heightening lack of proper school discipline, many teachers are asking why more isn't being done to reprimand students who cause them fear. The problem is getting worse because problematic students know that they will not be properly disciplined.
    Page 2 of 3 - "We do have a discipline problem. Misbehavior in the classroom affects the teaching. With all the disruptive behavior that's going on, I ask when do I get to teach,” said teacher Rosemary Thomas.
    "I'm one of those teachers who've had three disks fused in my neck. I have a metal plate, two screws and a nice scar to go with it and that was because of a discipline problem. I stand here and talk to you from experience. I've also been your Middle School Teacher of the Year twice. By the time a child gets written up, they've already been disciplined by that teacher at least ten times. Teachers don't want to just waste their time writing down things on paper. They try to address discipline problems in their classrooms. We talk about teachers having classroom management but when you have students who refuse to do work, who will announce to the entire class 'I'm not doing it', what are you going to do about it? And then our hands are tied behind [our] backs because we can't punish them. You know, when my children were at school, they knew that if I got a phone call from a teacher, that they were going to be disciplined when they got home. That doesn't happen anymore. We can't keep children after school. We can't punish them by having them write definitions or even write an essay. So I ask the board, when you talk about classroom management, what exactly do you want me to do when a student refuses to do their work, refuses to do homework and you can't get a parent on the telephone or to come up to the school,” inquired teacher Mitzi George.
    Sue Henchy, Science teacher at LaGrange High School, was the teacher struck with a rock by the male high school student, as mentioned previously.
    “I was battered on October 22. This was not a classroom management issue. It was completely unprovoked. This was handled well at my school. They were extremely supportive. The breakdown was when it came to the expulsion hearing. This is a felony. I have pressed charges with the Sheriff's Department. Someone who has committed a felony, by law, should not be returned to the classroom. He was," said Henchy.
    The committee members responded to the eyewitness accounts and reported abuses with a promise to stop tolerating the violence.
    "It's obvious that we have a huge, alarming and shocking problem. This shines a tremendous spotlight on the problem and I really think this is not going away. We're going to have to do something in the future to improve these situations," said school board President Bill Jongbloed.
    "We should not allow our teachers to be treated this way," stated board member Chad Guidry.
    Page 3 of 3 - The committee passed a motion to have the superintendent and staff reformulate policies as they pertain to discipline and then bring it back to this committee at a future date for review, taking in the recommendations that were brought in Tuesday night.

        calendar