Wednesday, November 18, 2015

JCTA encouraging JCPS teachers to call police if they feel unsafe

This from WDRB (video):
A special edition action letter about threatening and violent behavior by students in Jefferson County Public Schools is being sent out to all of the district's teachers by the Jefferson County Teachers Association.

The letter, which started arriving in teacher mailboxes Tuesday, is entitled "Attacked at School" and is part one of two parts written by Don Meade and Tom Schulz, two attorneys who represent JCTA and its members.

"There is nothing more frightening to a classroom teacher than to be trapped in a situation with a student who has become threatening or violent against the teacher or other students," the letter reads. "Teachers can be injured while managing disruptive behavior or when aggression is directed against them."

The letter comes a week after a WDRB investigation showed many teachers don't feel safe in the classroom -- and that disruptive behavior from students and a lack of support from the administration is causing some to resign and leave JCPS and the profession altogether.

JCTA president Brent McKim told WDRB News on Wednesday the purpose of this article is to explain the rights, responsibilities and options that "all teacher need to know in order to protect themselves."

In the letter, JCTA says "experience has shown that teachers must be assertive about their rights to be protected in assault situations, to counter the natural tendency of principals and the district to not involve law enforcement and often the media."

Teachers are advised to follow the district's procedures by handling the situation first with the principal whenever possible. It then describes what to do if the teacher isn't satisfied with the principal's response:

"In emergency situations or where the principal has demonstrated a disregard for teacher protection, you have the legal right to call 911 and ask for police assistance if under attack or injured by the assault of a student." 

The letter states that teachers have the right to call police even if the principal refuses to do so and goes on to say they can press charges against the student.

Last week Superintendent Donna Hargens wrote an editorial piece saying the district supports its teachers and has implemented a Positive Behavioral Intervention and Support System (PBIS), which is taking the most positive approach to addressing problem behaviors. She also said the district surveyed its teachers, and 92 percent of them said they felt safe and secure in the classroom.
Hargens could not be reached for immediate comment about the JCTA letter on Wednesday.

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