Friday, November 24, 2017

Harrisburg School District teachers describe violent students, ask board for help

The following article appeared on Local21news


HARRISBURG, Pa — Emotions were high inside the Harrisburg School Board meeting Monday night as The Harrisburg Education Association pleaded with the board for help following violent encounters in the classrooms at elementary schools throughout the district.

First grade teacher Johanna Brown describes what's going on in her classroom at Downey Elementary, saying to the school board, "Are we getting hurt? This bruise is from last Friday.”

Brown described a student in her room, saying, “She will kick and hit her classmates. She will throw the entire contents of her desk at every single student just to get attention." 
NOT a picture of the REAL classroom. Wonder what the main difference might be?
The emotional plea to the school board for help also came from fellow teachers.

“I have been kicked, hit, punched scratched. I’ve had a student physically restrain me in front of my other students, grabbing my arms from behind where I was unable to move," First Grade Teacher Amanda Shaeffer said.

Educators asked the board for more training when it comes to mental health and trauma situations, along with better communication with administrators.

Parents and grandparents got up to speak too, one woman stating her foster son has been bullied by other children and the teacher needs help.

“She needs help. The kids in her room are so out of control, how are you supposed to be sitting here working when someone’s going underneath another child’s desk with permanent marker writing all over their sneakers," Lorraine Badget said.

Since July, the Harrisburg Education Association says more than 40 teachers have left the district.

The district claims a variety of reasons including retirement, but acknowledges there is a problem.

"We know there is a different type of support that is needed and we are also working with other agencies like Pressley Ridge and others to help and to address these the problems," Superintendent Dr. Sybil Knight-Burney said.

They say they're willing to create a task force, something teachers say they would like to see, comprised of board members, administrators, teachers, parents and even the community.

While they say their voices were heard tonight, they're hoping a resolution comes soon.

“Actions speak louder than words. We know we need these things, I know it takes time, but we need to do it faster. We need to get these kids the help that they need more quickly," President of the Harrisburg Education Association Jody Barksdale says.

The Harrisburg School District sent the following statement in response to the allegations made by the Harrisburg Education Association:

The District is committed to promoting a safe and healthy work and learning environment for our faculty, staff and students. As we all can agree, student achievement is our primary mission.

Concerning the District’s staffing positions, the facts are as follows: The District had 55 instructional vacancies in July 2017, the District hired 130 direct and indirect support staff between April to August 2017, inclusive of 30 professional staff. We currently have 38 professional job vacancies as a result of resignations due to a host of reasons and retirements.

Urban education is fraught with challenges, opportunities and experiences. The administration of the Harrisburg School District is dedicated and working extremely hard, providing year-long educator development and teacher mentoring programs. Additionally, processes for Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS) and/or Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) are in place throughout all schools. Further, the District has an open door policy to advance communication and address any and all concerns from administrators, faculty, staff and/or students.

As a School District, our effectiveness and success hinges on all stakeholders taking a positive and committed stance on moving the quality of education forward for every student; this includes professional responsibility, accountability and true ownership of the work that puts students first and continues to move our District in the direction of academic growth and achievement.

As a District, we will continue to strive to overcome isolated challenges and resolve differences. Furthermore, we endeavor to build a culture of collaboration among all stakeholders that is focused on improving teaching and learning in every school throughout the District.

Ed.  Wonder what may be missing from the various reports of violence so monstrous that 45 teachers have been forced to resign in fear of their safety? A CBS Philly news broadcast featured a young newsreader reporting on the story, after which the network went to commercial! No interviewed teachers or parents. No school officials. No cameras in the schools at all. Why not?

Would anyone like to hazard a guess?


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