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Connecticut: Inside threat: STUDENT ASSAULTS ON TEACHERS, preK to 12th grade

April 1, 2018, CT Mirror: A more common school safety problem: assaults on teachers https://ctmirror.org/2018/04/01/two-kinds-safety-issues-facing-classroom-teacher/ …Since then, the district has retreated from employing so many security staff to protect students from outside threats and is focusing its efforts and resources on another school safety issue: assaults on teachers by students. Statewide, there has been a lack of progress in stemming aggressive student behaviors as student suspension and expulsion rates steadily decline. That dynamic has fueled a debate over whether the state’s push to reduce student suspensions and expulsions – and instead provide students with supports so they can stay in school – actually is working to make schools safer. … For this Sunday Conversation, we sat down with Tod Couture, a special education teacher from Enfield, to talk about school safety. As the leader of the teachers’ union in his district, he regularly hears stories from teachers about the issues they face…. How about teachers? Do teachers feel safe at school? There’s two different things going on with school safety issues: those dealing with threats from the outside coming in and there is a whole other issue of student assaults on teachers. It’s a major issue, not only within our district, but across the state and really across the nation. Where this is happening really is not at the high school level, it’s not the middle school level, it’s at the lower elementary level – kindergarten through second grade…. Talk a little bit about the programs and services that have helped curb these assaults. The districts has trained us and implemented the PBIS program – Positive Behavior Interventions & Supports – and they also now have a transitional class as well. It is a class for kindergarten, first- and second-graders that based on data takes out the kids that have the most behavioral disorders and puts them in a class with a teacher who wanted to teach that class…. Describe the type of aggressive behavior teachers are facing? We’re talking about kids who are either biting, kicking, slapping teachers or disruptive behavior to the educational environment. That could be where teachers have to leave their room and go to another room because the student is out of control – knocking over desks, throwing a chair… So they’re not assaulting a teacher, but they’re causing such a disruption to the educational environment that it’s unsafe for those students to be in the room…. Are these just bad kids? What’s going on here? No. We thought about this a lot as to why has it been a relatively recent phenomenon. It hasn’t been around for years and years and years. I think it’s a multitude of factors. You’re dealing with probably more instances of substance abuse. We’re dealing with learned behavior. …