Teachers’ union supports bill allowing physical restraint of students

The rise of student violence in classrooms has not only resulted in lost instructional time but more concerning, injured or stressed teachers. As we continue to place more burdens on educators to meet the increasingly complex needs of students, it is important they are supported and protected.

To help teachers when potentially violent situations arise, new legislation (LB 147) in Nebraska would allow teachers to “use a reasonable amount of force to physically restrain students” if they become violent or disruptive and would “provide legal protections for teachers and administrators” who restrain students, according to Fox 42.

The state’s teachers’ union is backing the bill.

“LB 147 is a step in the right direction. It would allow school personnel to use physical intervention to safely manage the dangerous behavior of a student until the student is no longer a danger to themselves or to others,” NSEA [Nebraska State Education Association] President Jenni Benson said.

Nearly 200 teachers responded to a survey the union sent out that asked whether they had ever been assaulted by one of their students. High school teacher Tricia Rohde shared her story with Fox 42.

“The student went into our calming room and I stood at the door to calm the student. The student turned towards me and without warning started punching me in the head and face,” Rohde said. “I was beaten back which allowed the student to get into the main room. She continued hitting me as I yelled for help. She picked up a trashcan and threw it at me.”

Rohde said she was attacked a second time after administrators left to contact the students’ parents. Rohde said she suffered a broken nose, concussion and now struggles with PTSD, but she was discouraged against pressing charges.

“Following my time at home with my concussion I did speak with an officer about filing charges and I was told that teachers don’t report students and that it would not go anywhere,” Rohde said.

Minnesota teachers have had similar experiences, from being kicked, shoved and punched, to even suffering traumatic brain injuries. A bill introduced in 2016 would have automatically expelled a student who threatened or physically harmed an educator, but Education Minnesota—the state’s teachers’ union—fiercely opposed it, and it died in committee.

According to the most recent Thinking Minnesota Poll, 69 percent of Minnesotans support a state law that would require automatic expulsion as the penalty for any student who assaults a teacher.