Northampton, MA: "Violent incidents with struggling students has led to serious injuries to staff"

Jan 11, 2018, MassLive: Parents, teachers speak out at Northampton School Committee meeting regarding alleged violent incidents at Bridge Street Elementary school Controversy surrounding the imperfect rollout of a new model for special education programs at Bridge Street Elementary resulted in a tense school committee meeting in Northampton on Thursday night. The tensions centered around a grievance filed with the committee earlier this week by the Northampton Association of School Employees (NASE) union, which alleges that the rollout of the program has led to violent episodes involving students who are struggling with behavioral or developmental issues--sometimes resulting in serious injuries to teachers, including concussions. The program, implemented earlier this year, is based on a "full inclusion" model in which students with disabilities are fully integrated into classrooms with the rest of the students. However, the program was implemented along with a significant restructuring of staff at the school that left teachers without the proper resources to deal with the changes, according to NASE members familiar with the issue. … "The grievance is about the health and safety of staff in the building," said Andrea Egitto, an NASE chapter coordinator, in an interview Thursday night. "Due to the restructuring of the special education programs there were a lot of staff that were redistributed, leaving a great need for students who need support in the classroom," she said. "Without that support, students are having a really challenging time," Egitto said. "There's been difficulties because there's not enough support for those students in the classroom." Egitto said that violent incidents with struggling students has led to serious injuries to staff. Speaking on condition of anonymity, a teacher who had taught at Bridge Street School for ten years confirmed that the way in which the new inclusion model had been implemented had led to a noticeable escalation in violent incidents at the school. "There have been concussions, teachers with bloody noses, teachers attacked," she said. … "I'm absolutely distraught," said one parent, who claimed her daughter was being "physically hurt" at school by an "aggressive child that's not getting cared for properly." "She has great potential but she can't focus because there's a circus going on in her classroom," the mother said.