Slew of Teacher Assaults Prompts Legislators to Act

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A slew of recent assaults against public education teachers has prompted some legislators to act.  On April 5, the House Education Committee considered a bill authored by the committee’s chairwoman, Representative Jenifer Loon (R – Eden Prairie), that gives teachers more authority to discipline students adequately.  In a press release sent out April 4th, it states the bill,  “puts teachers back in charge of classrooms and helps protect staff from physical assault.”

Violence in public schools has received a lot of attention as of late, so much so that St. Paul teachers threatened to strike in early December of 2015 due to inaction by the district to protect teachers. One of the more gruesome violent altercations that occurred at a public school happened at Como Park Senior High School, when two 16 year old students attacked a 48 year old technology teacher after the teacher tried escorting the disruptive students out of the class, according to Minn Post. Lai Moua, a student at the school, captured some of the fight on film, and it can be seen by clicking here.

Loon’s bill was crafted with the intention of giving teachers more autonomy in the classroom so they can effectively deal with students needing to be disciplined. The press release points out that the legislation will “help to clarify the authority of educators in the classroom and provide for official reporting requirements to track how common these occurrences are in Minnesota schools.”
The bill (HF 3679) requires  the following: district school boards must set up discipline policies and discipline students according to those local policies, teachers must be notified when a student that has exhibited past behavioral problems is placed in their classroom, teachers must be given the ability to remove a student from class who is deserving of discipline, the state must create of a fund that appropriates money to teachers and public school employees who are victims of classroom violence, and finally districts have to include episodes of violence in mandatory state performance reports.
DFL Representative Carlos Mariani (Ramsey County) voiced concern pertaining to the bill during the committee hearing, pointing out that the bill may alter power dynamics in the classroom and thereby create additional problems.
The bill has been “laid over” for possible inclusion in the Education Finance Committee’s Omnibus Bill.
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Blake Kraussel