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Educators increasingly subjected to violence by students

The reality of violence directed against K-12 educators by students is highly concerning. For too many teachers, violence while on the job is prevalent, ranging from threats of physical violence to actual assault or physical abuse.

Tuesday morning, a Minneapolis school staff member was critically injured after a student allegedly assaulted him. The Star Tribune has the story:

The student accused of severely assaulting a staff member at an alternative high school Minneapolis is an 18-year-old man from St. Paul, police said Wednesday.

The victim, Harrison Education Center paraprofessional Mohammed Dukuly, remained in critical condition Wednesday morning at Hennepin County Medical Center, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Dukuly, 43, suffered head injuries and was “unconscious but breathing” when emergency responders arrived about 9:45 a.m. Tuesday…

The high school has a history of student violence against its staff:

A string of similar incidents erupted a few years ago at Harrison and a nearby alternative school for younger students.

 In January 2016, a 17-year-old Harrison student was charged with repeatedly punching principal Monica Fabre in the face, giving her a concussion. The student, Lashawnte Bright, pleaded guilty to felony third-degree assault and gross misdemeanor assault.

Earlier that same month, a 14-year-old boy was arrested in connection with the assault of a female teacher at the center. In an assault in December 2015 on a Harrison paraprofessional, an 18-year-old student was cited by police.

There also was another attack of a teacher in November 2015 at the district’s River Bend Education Center, a K-8 alternative school, that sent the instructor to the hospital. That student was a 13-year-old girl.

Harrison is an alternative high school for students with behavioral or emotional disorders, but incidents like this are happening in a variety of educational settings. The multiple attacks against Minnesota teachers and educators in the past few years confirms this is a critical education issue.

Many teachers we have met with fear for their safety and are asking for more support to address student behavior.

Aaron Benner, a terrific St. Paul educator, knows firsthand what happens when teachers feel unsafe in the classroom. He was assaulted by a student and was not supported by his district or teachers’ union. You can read his story here and view it below.

Teacher victimization and its aftermath not only impacts working conditions but student learning conditions, as well. We ask so much of our teachers, and we need to ensure they have a safe workplace to do the nation’s most important work.

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