Several months ago, I was attacked in my classroom by a student. It all began when I was visited in my classroom by the Principal, who was there for an unannounced visit to evaluate the effectiveness of my teaching style as a part of my annual evaluation. During that observation, she noted that there were several students who were engaged with their cellular phones out of my sight. I lost points on my evaluation for not noticing and preventing students who were using their phones.

So, the next day I announced to all of my classes that I would be strictly enforcing the “no cell phones in class” rule that the school had in place. One student in my fourth period class continued to use his phone. I told him that if he continued to use that phone, I would take it to the front office, and he could explain why he was using it to the Principal, who would administer punishment in the process. The student replied: “I would like to see you try to take it.”

As per school policy, we cannot write a discipline referral without first contacting the parent, so that afternoon, I sent an email to the student’s mother. I never got a reply.

The next day in that class, students again were using their phones. I told them to put them away. It took two announcements, but all finally put them away, except the one student. I saw him there, typing a text message. I took his phone, and he said “Why are you being such a jerk?” I told him that he would have to get it back from the office. I wrote the incident up, and sent it to the Vice Principal.

When class was over, it was time for lunch and the student hung back a bit. He approached me and asked for the phone. I again told him he could get it from the office. At that point, he tackled me. A short struggle ensued, and we wound up in the hallway, with me lying on top of him, holding him down.

While legally a child, this student was large. Larger than I am. A defensive back on the football team, the seventeen year old junior is over six feet tall and weighs more than 170 pounds. He bench presses 205 and can dead lift 375 pounds. This is a child in name only.

There were no witnesses, since the other students had left the class. The evidence seemed to all be on my side: the email to the mother, the referral, the fact that he stayed behind to confront me. The police investigated. I was reassigned to temporary duties that did not involve student contact while the investigation was carried out. I hired a lawyer. She told me that even if the school cleared me, it was likely that I would be fired, because I was now a liability.

His friends on Facebook post pictures and videos of themselves with handguns. I am disarmed while at work, and while driving to and from work, because I cannot have a weapon in my car. They are not similarly encumbered. 

I decided that even if I were to return to the classroom, I would not be safe. I would have to watch my back every day. A month and a half later, I was still not back in the classroom. I no longer felt safe ir supported, so I resigned.

The student? All he got was a week of out of school suspension- for “fighting” – not for attacking a teacher.

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Anonymous · January 7, 2017 at 5:36 pm

Did the student say those words in standard English?

The reason we have these problems in America today is because people with your high skillset and worldly background are still propping up government disasters like public school. Because you believe in it. Government is a religion.

I bet the law-abiding conservatives onboard the boxcars were telling each other civilization still can be saved by working within the system.

Steve Johnson · January 7, 2017 at 11:00 pm

Private school, esp. Catholic school, might not have this problem. At least, mine doesn't. And the hours are virtually the same.

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