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Teachers take hits, but it's nothing new



Published: Sat, February 9, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Most of the time, when a teacher gets hit, it's unintentional, the district's security chief said.

By RON COLE

VINDICATOR EDUCATION WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- The head of the city teachers union and the school district's security chief said they are not alarmed by reports that three schoolteachers and an administrator have been hit by pupils in the past week.

"On any given day, it can happen," said Ted Terlesky, security chief.

"I don't think it's any reason for alarm," said Sherri Morgan, teachers union president.

A 16-year-old student at the Youngstown Alternative School at Choffin Career & amp; Technical Center was arrested Feb. 1. Police said she punched a school administrator in the forehead, knocking him to the ground.

On Wednesday, a teacher at Sheridan Elementary School was struck several times and had her glasses knocked off when she tried to break up a fight in the cafeteria, police report. A second teacher also was struck and knocked to the floor.

And on Thursday, a sixth-grader at West Elementary School was arrested after a teacher was hit in the back. The pupil told police he had swung at another pupil, missed and inadvertently hit the teacher.

The teacher had just returned to work two days earlier after recovering from a back injury she suffered when she was hit by another pupil last month, police reports said.

No numbers: The school district did not have specific statistics available on the number of teachers who have been hit by pupils this year, but three assaults in a week is rare, said Joe Lutsi, the district's supervisor of attendance, discipline and health services.

"Maybe once a month we've got a situation we've got to deal with on a normal basis," he said. "It's inordinate."

Terlesky said the vast majority of assaults on teachers are unintentional and are not direct, purposeful attacks.

Many times a teacher is trying to break up or prevent a fight. "That's, a lot of times, when they subject themselves to being struck," Terlesky said.

Morgan said breaking up pupil squabbles has become part of every teacher's job, especially those in urban schools.

"Most of the time, because of our nature [as teachers], I think we have the tendency to want to make everything right and step in the middle of something and think we can control it," she said. "Lots of times, unfortunately, when we do that, teachers get hurt."

Terlesky said many incidents also involve pupils identified as having severe behavioral problems.

Punishment: Terlesky said pupils who hit teachers usually are immediately suspended and many times recommended for expulsion, which means removal from school for at least 80 school days.

The district also, in many cases, will file charges against pupils , depending on variables such as the seriousness of the episode and the age of the pupil.




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