I've chosen to resign this week. Need some help.

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Ben B., Oct 9, 2017.

  1. Ben B.

    Ben B. Rookie

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    Oct 9, 2017

    I am a special education teacher in Ohio mild/moderate k-12 for students in the middle grades. I work a large urban public district. I have been teaching for over 5 years and never thought this day would arrive. For the duration of my career, my attendance has been excellent (never missed more than 2 days each year) and my tdes ratings have all been effective. Lately, thought about resigning due to the stress involved with teaching, but the thought of doing it during the school year has never crossed my mind. At our school, we have students with behavior problems who have always been welcome in our rooms, and my colleague and I have always been open to collaborating with each other and with our students parents. To the point -- We have a student (severe behavior problem) who is with me for two periods a day for pull-out services. This student has been expelled from 2 other schools prior to last year due to violent and explosive behavior (ripping apart office, ripping apart principals office, threatening staff, etc.) We inherited this student last year and he was placed on my colleague's caseload. He made it through last year but had to have a manifestation last spring due to violent and explosive behavior (bumped into a teacher, kicking lockers, threatening peers) One may wonder how he didn't get expelled from our school - as are many of us teachers. Anyway, last week this student began harrasing a peer in my classroom (calling her fat, making fun of body parts, etc.) I told him this is harrassment and he can't do that. I offered him a break outside of the room, offered him a phone call home, the student told me he "hopes I (teacher) die". I asked the student to go to the office to wait until after class where I could meet him and we could call home. The student then walked to my door and began destroying my entire room- kicking trash cans around, punching wall, kicking walls. - I can live with this as it's part of my job duties to shape this sort of behavior. (I sent another student for security) However, in the middle of the student's tirade, he went too far as he came behind my desk, began screaming at me that he hopes I die, began punching and kick the wall and my desk, began raising his fist to my face screaming he hopes I die and he wants to kill me. As he was doing this, I had my hands up (like I was getting robbed), telling him that everything is ok and that he needs to go to the office. He walked away for a moment, thought about leaving, then came back into my personal space and repeated the threats, taunts, fist raising etc. Again, I was cornered behind my desk with nowhere to go. I felt so powerless. I thought that at any moment he was going to punch or kick me. - And if he did, what was I to do? Had I defended myself in any way shape or form I would have been open to investigation for a myriad of legal issues. Luckily he never hit me, again I had my hands up at my sides, calmly telling him to go to the office. This time, he did. - DOESNT END HERE THOUGH! I called down the office and told the secretary that this student is never to be in my presence again, is to be promptly sent to the principal and that I would be writing up paperwork requisite to have the student removed from the building. A security guard came up to my room with witness statements, had other students write down exactly what happened. The other students commented to me how they could see that I was shaken up. - All this at 9:30 in the morning. After the students were done writing their witness statements, (about 25 minutes after the student from earlier had left the room) I walked them into the hall so that they could begin lining up for their next class. GUESS WHO WAS IN THE HALL HOVERING AROUND MY DOOR! - The student from earlier. I again told him to go to the office, he looked and me and said he wasn't going to do anything I said and then began calling me a FXXing FXXXot, I realized that he was about explode again, so I locked myself in my room. Then, with the hallway filled with teachers and students, the student began kicking my door as hard as he could - trying to break my door down. I was scared and so confused as to how he was back on the second floor of our building. I promptly called the office and screamed to our secretery "HE'S BACK UP HERE KICKING MY DOOR IN, IM CALLING THE POLICE" - I didn't call the police and the student was escorted away from my door by somebody (I don't know who). My principal told me to go home for the remainder of the day because I was so distraught - shaking, unable to focus. My principal told me the student would be suspended for 10 days, I replied that if the student was ever allowed back into our building that I would be resigning. Later that night, my wife got home from work (she works for a hospital system in HR). I told her what happened and she looked at me and said " You work in a very hostile environment and should never go back due to your personal safety being at risk." She told me to file a police report to see if the student could get charged with criminal menacing. She told me that the situation I was put in needs to be documented, all witness statements and security camera footage needs to be sent to the union chair and security team for the district. So, the next day I emailed the higher ups in the union and our principal and restated what happened and told them that the feelings of powerlessnes, feelings of being unsafe have understandably jeopardized my level of comfort and confidence in being in front of a classroom. I told them that I wanted to be placed on paid administrative leave and I want to receive counseling and a fitness to teach exam after the way I was victimized by the student. The union leader told me to take as much sick time as I needed while they sort through everything. However, it's less than a week, and I can't hang on any longer. I want to resign so that I can move forward with my life. I realize my license may be suspended for up to a year but at this point, I have been offered a position working at my friends company (nothing related to teaching). I plan on starting there this week and emailing my resignation. I know that I can sit at home and use sick time until all of this plays out, but I don't want to. I want to resign and will not use any sicktime on days that I work at my friend's company. Thoughts? Advice? Thank you in advance.
     
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  3. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Oct 9, 2017

    My goodness, this is terrible! Is the student still allowed on school property after all this? If so, definitely talk with your union about what steps you can take to remove yourself from the situation without losing your license.
     
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  4. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    You are still upset. Don't make any rash decisions. Consult with your union, that is what they are there for.
     
  5. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    I would feel just as you do. I'm a guy but knowing I might have to stand there and be assaulted without the real ability to defend myself without serious consequences is terrifying.
     
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  6. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Oct 9, 2017

    I'm so sorry you had to go through this. It sounds like the teaching profession will be losing a good teacher, but your health is more important.
    Good luck with the new job. Can you tell us what profession you will be working at?
     
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  7. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    I have been victimized by a student or two, and thought about quitting. Here's the rub - if I had left, the impetus to remove a dangerous student from the population fizzles, and the student stays to terrorize more students and your replacement. There are good fights to be fought, and this is probably one of them. Use your sick time, go on medical leave if necessary, and this will maintain your seniority and benefits. Get counseling, take all the time you need, but don't back down from the demand to remove this volatile student from the school. File an assault complaint with the police and let the law take over what happens next. Check with your union and see if you can file a grievance against the administration, since the student wasn't truly removed in an expedient manner, leaving you vulnerable to further attack. Contact a lawyer to see what legal recourse you have and what financial reward may be due you. You did everything right, and the admin didn't fly to your aid to protect you and the students who were impacted by the incident. Advocate for yourself and your students, and make sure that charges are filed and that you follow up on them.

    This is a student who is showing mental instability, and he doesn't belong in a general population. Legal charges need to make both student and parents aware that this student has seriously crossed boundaries, and that there is no easy way out of this situation. If you leave, someone without a clear understanding of what has happened will be at risk. You did your best to descalate the situation, and that is a huge plus. If you leave, you lose a job, self esteem, and the ability to advocate for the students who you protected in the attacks. Sometimes a monetary settlement in your behalf sends a message that there are lines in the sand that matter, and that the school realizes that they are obligated to serve and protect not only other students, but also the staff designated to work with volatile and dangerous students.

    The legal battle will provide time for you to heal, time for the school to own up to where they dropped the ball, and a chance for the school to rectify shoddy actions. The legal battle also gives you the time to garner public support on your behalf. I would not throw in the towel and slink away, because there are principles that need to be addressed, and I am a fighter. I would fight for what is morally right and just stand my ground.

    I would defend my license while placing blame where it belongs. For me, I would stand my ground and fight the good fight. This time he assaulted an adult who can rally the troops; the next time he may go after a student who lacks the resources and courage to stand up for themselves. I understand the almost PTSD after effects, but fighting the aggressor may be beneficial in the long term. I know how terrifying this ordeal was, and only you can make others see it through your eyes.

    Let me wish you the best of luck. Facing the turmoil may turn out to truly be cathartic and healing. You are not alone. :hugs:
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2017
  8. rpan

    rpan Cohort

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    That situation is truly terrifying. Hats off to you for keeping your cool and being calm. I don't have any advice because I have never and hope I never get to be in this situation. But I do know never to make decisions when things very fresh and you may not have had all the time you need to process everything.

    Use the sick days and time off to sort things out, make calculated decisions and if the end result is that you still choose to quit at least it was a decision made with the time needed to process everything.
     
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  9. FrankFromFranklin

    FrankFromFranklin Rookie

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    Oct 10, 2017

    This is an awful situation. I am sorry you had to go through that. If something this severe happened to me in the classroom, I would tell administration that if the student is ever allowed to return to this school I will resign. I am sure you have a lot of students that need your attention. I would not be able to do my job effectively if I were constantly worried about a student acting on violent threats that he/she made. Good for you for standing up for yourself and your district should be ashamed of even considering letting that student back in the building. I wish you well with whatever you decide to do.
     
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  10. mrsammieb

    mrsammieb Devotee

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    First, WOW, I am so so sorry this has happened to you. I would not only feel helpless but then how would the other students react when you come back? Here are a few things to consider:
    *Why leave if they can give you another job. This way all your years won't go away.
    *Use that sick leave. May them pay for your time to honest relax. You deserve it.
    *I would almost demand that the union make that student be displaced rather than you displace. What kind of organization allows a student to win in that way?
    *I know you are in pain now and you cannot stop thinking about the situation, but really until you go back and face that fear, are you ever going to be okay?
    I am sure you are a great teacher. You deserve the mental break. But I encourage you to try to go back. I think you will never feel satisfied unless you do even if it is for only a few weeks. But hopefully it will help you see that you can win in this situation!
     
  11. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Now, you manly menfolk rock, but I don't think there should be any shame in these feelings.
     
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  12. Belch

    Belch Companion

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    It sounds like your admin is hopelessly inept.

    I would clean out my desk and leave. There's no way I would stay in a situation where I knew my students were being put at risk by a violent student.

    I know, I know... you feel an obligation to your students who you are leaving, but by staying, you simply add fuel to the fire. Call the parents of your students and explain why you are leaving. Tell them the truth - their children are in danger because the administration allows violent students to assault their children, and will do nothing about it.

    Then leave. Go to another school where you can work with administration. You'll be a lot more effective, and you won't have to worry about your new students being physically assaulted. You did what you could for your old school, but it's time to move on.
     
  13. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Although I know your heart is in the right place, calling the parents of the students that OP teaches, and delivering the message that their students are at risk may create a situation where the school could sue for spreading confidential information. If OP follows this advice, he has broken the rule of not sharing information about a student or students with others without explicit permission from the student (if over 18) or his legal guardian. I just want others to realize that we don't get to pick and choose what is covered by the rules of confidentiality. Talk about adding fuel to the flame. . .
     
  14. Belch

    Belch Companion

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    Well, I don't teach in the states, so I know nothing of your legal situation. I am merely speaking about being professional and thinking about what is right for the students.

    The parents deserve to know that the school they entrust their children to is putting them in danger. If your laws disagree, then you need to change your laws.

    Where I teach, we put students first.

    p.s. This forum has taught me why Americans distrust their education system, and why there are so many parents who don't trust schools to such an extent that they would rather teach their own children, then entrust them with American teachers.

    It seems that a law degree is required in order to teach in America, and all that does is teach teachers that they can't put their student's interests first. You worry more about being sued than you do your own students. If I lived there, I wouldn't trust you guys, either.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2017
  15. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    Burn... Should we put the violent kid on death row or is there hope for rehabilitation?
     
  16. Belch

    Belch Companion

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    Perhaps the moderators of this forum should consider adding a new sub-forum that is dedicated to legal matters specific to the states. Honestly, I find myself continually butting heads here with teachers over American laws, rather than pedagogy.
     
  17. Belch

    Belch Companion

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    Well gee, I dunno. Maybe expel the kid? At least that way, your students who have learning disorders aren't going to be afraid to walk from one classroom to another.

    Just a thought. I mean, having to deal with a learning disorder is hard enough without worrying about being physically attacked in the hall. I know special education students, and they're awesome!!!

    But apparently, that disability isn't enough in America. You have to add to their troubles by introducing violence to the curriculum.
     
  18. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    We do care about the students, but laws about confidentiality are there to protect the students so that people can't use personal information against them. It is very similar to our privacy laws in the medical field. Right or wrong, records and information are not to be shared with anyone not authorized to see the material. As the mother of a SPED child, as well as a patient, I appreciate knowing that my personal information stays personal.

    If police charges are filed, that will likely be reported online or by news agencies. At that point it is public knowledge. However, school personnel can neither share nor divulge matters that are considered confidential or private. Trust me - if the story breaks in the news, gossip will spread the story like wildfire.
     
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  19. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    Kid ends up on street and murders 3 people because the voices in his head told him to.

    What needs to happen is that the student is placed in a more appropriate setting. If the OP decides to leave, it shouldn't be out of fear of this one student.

    I'm all for expelling the incorrigible, but in this case, it's clearly a mental health disorder.
     
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  20. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    And there are appropriate school settings that deal with these types of students, trust me. We have the right school/environment to meet the needs of virtually any child with a learning disability - the IEP just haa to get them to the right placement.
     
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  21. Belch

    Belch Companion

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    Yet the OP already wrote that he contacted the office and told them to keep that student out of his building, but that obviously didn't work.

    So my suggestion to quit isn't entirely without merit. The administration is inept and putting students at risk because of their incompetence by failing to remove a violent student.

    Teachers who continue to teach students in such a situation are morally culpable.

    I'm sorry to appear so emotional over this, but I truly love special education students, and reading posts that basically say "yeah, well the law says we can't protect them" just isn't good enough.
     
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  22. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    FYI - the student who went ballistic has a disability, too. The "behavior problem" is almost certainly enough to get him classified as EBD, ODD, and probably more. SPED teachers who are teaching the SPED students assigned to them are not "culpable" - they are doing their job. The placement for the student is wrong. Would you discuss the different SPED student in your classes with other parents, staff, people off the street?
     
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  23. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    The problem is related to cost associated with out of district placements. They will usually try to avoid footing the bill as long as they can. OP has recourse to move the process along. Grievance, police, etc. Those are appropriate next steps.
     
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  24. Belch

    Belch Companion

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    How much does it cost to expel a violent student in order to protect the rest of the students?

    Obviously too much.
     
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  25. Belch

    Belch Companion

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    The lack of moral agency here doesn't need to be added to.
     
  26. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    Expulsion isn't the same as out of district placememt. It's more like transferring. The tuition at a private sped school can be anywhere between 25,000-250,000 depending on the extent of the issues.
     
  27. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Just curious - where are you located? You don't seem very well versed about the US SPED regulations or the scope of the children we care for.
     
  28. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Wow, a difficult situation to say the least. I do think that when you resign you should see your principal in person and do it face to face. I do realize that this won't be a fun thing to do. As far as the decision, I believe your wife and you are better equipped in making that decision than I am. I wish you the best.
     
  29. Belch

    Belch Companion

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    I'm in Japan.

    Sorry, but I don't know how your laws work. That's why I think that maybe a sub-forum needs to be made to deal with problems specific to the legal problems for teachers in the USA, rather than the issues endemic to all educators, regardless of location. You guys in the states have so many laws to contend with that many threads here have nothing to do with education.
     
  30. Belch

    Belch Companion

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    I'm going to ignore your alphabet soup because you have not made the case for its relevance. What is relevant is your question of whether I would discuss different special education students with students, staff, and people on the street.

    No, I would not go into specifics because that is not important. What is important is informing parents that they are sending their children into harms way every single day that they send their children to a school that has demonstrated that it does not care about the physical safety of their students.

    I have been most consistent regarding this adherence to what I consider to be professionalism. I wouldn't disseminate information about a particular student, but rather do my professional duty by informing parents that their children who they love are being sent to a school that just doesn't care about the safety of their children, preferring instead to retreat behind a veritable shield of acronyms.

    I'm more than well aware that American teachers aren't all that concerned about anything other than the relevant legalities, but personally, I believe this is a dereliction of duty, and an appalling lack of professionalism.
     
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  31. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    Seeing as many more teachers on this forum are from America than Japan, you should probably just assume that problems presented are from America. Sub forum not required.

    As an educator, we are responsible for every student, even the ones displaying difficult behavior. Would you expell a student with HIV to theoretically protect others from the chance of exposure? Would you consider it your duty to warn parents that this child is in class with their children?
     
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  32. Belch

    Belch Companion

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    No, I'll just assume that if your problems are legal, then you'd best find a lawyer, or contact your local representative to complain about local laws that negatively effect your ability to be a teacher.

    Yes, I would.

    My wife is a nurse, and has dealt with patients who have HIV/AIDS. She deserves the right to know that a patient has a communicable disease so she can take the necessary precautions when dealing with that patient. This is usually not a problem for other patients, but it would certainly be within the realm of ethics to inform them of the dangers posed if interaction with that patient might pose an undue threat.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2017
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  33. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    There's a reason they are called "universal precautions." Patients with HIV/AIDS need no more precautions than are needed for any patient. I am sure that as a teacher I have taught students with HIV, and I never needed to know. Because I follow protocol for dealing with bodily fluids.

    I enjoy my right to privacy, both at work and at the doctor's office. I would never do anything to a student to deny them that same right.
     
  34. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    EBD = Emotional/Behavioral Disorder
    ODD = Oppositional Defiance Disorder
    TBI = Traumatic Brain Injury (can include shaken baby syndrome)

    These are just some of the SPED classifications that could produce actions of violence. The student with any of these classifications is still entitled to services, but probably in a more restrictive environment. The child study team would have time, during the 10 day out of school suspension, to find a better placement for the student in question. Not sure how it works in Japan, but this is how special education works in the US. We try to find the best placements for the students in the least restrictive environment, but when a student exhibits behaviors that are not appropriate for their current placement, the child study team is tasked with finding a better placement that meets the child's needs. As a special education teacher, you are certainly aware that there is no one size fits all program.

    We continue to try to match students with the appropriate program. It doesn't happen overnight, but change happens. The student who made the threats has just as much need and right to the correct placement. Sharing his classification without his permission, or permission by his parents (if he is a minor), is unethical. Obviously, in the US, we have a higher regard for the privacy of others, and we have laws that uphold an individual's right to expect privacy.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2017
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  35. Zelda~*

    Zelda~* Devotee

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    10 days in Ohio means there will be a meeting about his placement, pronto. The law says after 10 days we must have a meeting about their placement. Obviously your school is not his LRE.

    That being said, I cannot fathom how terrifying that must have been for you and your other students. Would some time away help you rebuild your confidence a bit? Would knowing he couldn't come back help?

    I'd hate to see someone who certainly sounds like a decent teacher leave the field due to a bad (though no doubt traumatic!) incident.

    Best of luck, no matter what you choose.
     
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  36. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    However, as a nurse, your wife has the obligation to take the necessary precautions routinely, not just with a patient already identified with a transmisable disease. Those precautions are mandatory, since not all patients have been identified as infective. In the example of HIV, by following the normal guidelines and procedures outlined in our staff handbooks, the risk of infection is virtually nonexistent, so there is no need to label a student as infected. It only breeds fear amont those who don't understand mode of transmission or routine procedures already in effect.
     
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  37. AmyMyNamey

    AmyMyNamey Comrade

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    The big mistake here was NOT calling the police. Someone should have called the police. Someone should have filed charges.

    This kid isn't going to be able to hide behind his placement or IEP for long. In a couple of years, he'll be out in the big, bad world, and the cop called to his house isn't going to hold his hands and talk about his needs. The judge he stands before isn't going to whine about his teacher's professionalism or commitment to children. Frankly, this kid is going to be dead or in prison within a couple years.

    It's likely the kid never went to the office, but walked around a bit and returned to terrorize the teacher. If he had been in the office, if security never intervened despite requests, then administration has put its head in the noose.

    You might have a lawyer write up the expectation that your license isn't to be threatened in any way whatsoever, given the district's potential legal liability for the years of counseling you are going to need. Even if you change careers, no one has the moral justification for taking your license at this point. I'm sure an attorney can explain it better than me, so please do contact one.

    The district should simply count itself lucky you don't sue them for a lifetime of lost wages and psychiatric services.

    I agree that the system is failing this kid; however, the system does not service this kid by supplying him with a steady stream of victims, either. His rights and needs are negligible in comparison to the rights and needs of all the other people in this school. His being in the wrong placement does not discount the damage he does.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2017
    Froreal3 likes this.
  38. Belch

    Belch Companion

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    Oct 12, 2017

    We have special education schools for students who have been diagnosed with severe learning disabilities, as well as quarantined areas for students who are not violent, but have engaged in bullying other students. What we don't have are places for violent students. Sorry, but that's just not permitted at all.

    Thank you for explaining the acronyms used, but other than learning about psychological disorders in college, I don't find the distinctions important. As a teacher, I have a much easier job, which is to determine whether a student poses a physical or emotional threat to others. If the answer is "yes", then that student is gone until it has been determined that they can return.

    I am not a special education teacher, but of course there is no one size program that fits everybody. That's a problem for others to deal with. My problem is merely to determine if the students at my school are in danger, and then removing that danger. To me, a violent student is no different from a light fixture that might fall and hurt a student.

    This is where we differ. Once a student becomes violent, they might have rights, but not in my classroom, nor on the campus grounds. This doesn't happen overnight, but rather is dealt with immediately.

    There's a difference between sharing specific information about a particular student, and informing the public that there is a danger due to an unspecified student with violent tendencies.
     
    AmyMyNamey likes this.
  39. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    I don't think you are exposed to the same issues as we are discussing so I would kindly say you are out of your depth.

    I don't think anyone has argued for keeping dangerous students in the classroom with peers or teachers that are being threatened.

    Oh and does Belch mean something different in Japanese?
     
    bella84 likes this.
  40. Belch

    Belch Companion

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    Oct 12, 2017

    Those precautions are probably mandatory for her, but she still deserves to know. HIV/AIDS isn't a huge problem here, just as ebola isn't, but if a patient has either of those diseases, the medical staff have a right to know what they are dealing with.
     
    futuremathsprof likes this.
  41. Belch

    Belch Companion

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    Oct 12, 2017

    Violent students are violent students no matter which side of the globe they are on.

    No, Belch is not a Japanese word. It's a name I use here because I recently read Steven King's 'It' and a character in the novel has the same nickname. I think it's humorous.
     
    futuremathsprof likes this.

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