School district with violent students receives 45 teacher resignations (videos)

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A Pennsylvania school district has received at least 45 teacher resignations within the past four months, amid reports of unruly students. Harrisburg School District elementary teachers have asked the school board for urgent action to assist them as they deal with violent situations.

According to reports, Harrisburg School District has a large African-American population — far exceeding neighboring school districts. A few years ago, a report showed that 726 students, or 62.3% of the student population at Harrisburg High School, identify as African-American, making up the largest segment of the student body.

The demographic breakdown of the high school is drastically different from that of a typical school in the state of Pennsylvania, made up of 14.8% African-American students on average.

Children as young as six have been described as violent. Amanda Sheaffer, a first-grade teacher, said, “I have been kicked, punched, hit, scratched. I’ve had a student physically restraining me in front of my other students.”

Sheaffer gave her account during a Harrisburg school board meeting on Monday. She reported that she has worked for the school district for years, but the incidents have become extremely disruptive. The violent behavior displayed by students requires her to clear her classroom, call security, and write a report, leading to interruptions in her day.

“Many minutes are spent each day dealing with violence that is happening in the classroom,” she said.

Sheaffer was one of a handful of teachers who appealed to the school board Monday, asking for better methods of dealing with the increasingly troubled kids. PennLive.com reports:

A growing number of “extraordinary incidents” that cause lesson plans to come to a screeching halt, lead to destruction of property and, all too often, someone getting hurt, is trending up at certain buildings.

The stories of how bad it can get quickly overshadowed other business at the regularly-scheduled board meeting.

At least 45 resignations were handed in between July and October, according to the Harrisburg Education Association. Association president Jody Barksdale says even more teachers have resigned since then.

“Teachers and students are being hit, kicked, slapped, scratched, cussed at … and observing other students flip over tables, desks and chairs. Teachers have had to take the rest of their class into the hallway to protect them during these outbursts,” Barksdale said.

Barsdale proposed that the association establish a task force focused on devising solutions to the violent behavior displayed by certain children.

According to the district, not all the teacher resignations were due to student violence. However, Superintendent Sybil Knight-Burney did agree to the formation of a task force, according to the report.

The following video addresses violence among students at several schools. The segment on the Harrisburg School begins at approximately the 4.50-minute mark and includes stunning testimony from several of the teachers at the recent school board meeting.

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