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Akron Teachers Call for Stricter Discipline of Students who Verbally and Physically Assault Them

Akron public schools protesters
WKSU public radio

The Akron Board of Education is forming a special committee to determine how to respond to teacher complaints that students who physically and verbally assault teachers are not being appropriately disciplined. 

More than a hundred teachers and other Akron Public School employees protested for about an hour before last night’s board of education meeting. Akron Education Association President Pat Shipe then took their argument inside.

Pat Shipe
Credit M.L. Schultze / WKSU public radio
WKSU public radio
Teachers' union President Pat Shipe says the administration is ignoring a process set up in the collective bargaining agreement in the 1980s.

She told school board members and an overflow audience the district is ignoring long-standing policy by no longer removing students who verbally or physically assault teachers and putting them in alternative schools. Instead, she maintains, the students are returned to the same schools – and even classrooms – where the assaults occurred.

“After decades and decades of a successful process, this board has quite frankly removed our eyes and ears and ignored the process, and it’s causing chaos in our buildings.”

Shipe says the trouble began escalating last school year. the troublemakers are disrupting education for the more than 98 percent of the students who come to school wanting to learn.

Crowd inside the Akron Board of Education meeting
Credit M.L. SCHULTZE / WKSU public radio
WKSU public radio
Teachers and other Akron Public Schools employees filled the board room and spilled over into rows of seats in the hallway.

The school board has formed a committee to look at a long-term fix, including ways to mediate conflicts between some teachers and students. The Rev. Curtis Walker, a school board member on the committee, says the group will need to determine if the old policy was effective and if it remains so, or if there are other alternatives.

“We are open to whatever’s going to work for the children and the students. We don’t want any teacher, no teacher to be harmed. And we don’t want children to be harmed either. “

Teachers say students have cursed, threatened and physically assaulted them. The district has more than 20,000 students.

M.L. Schultze is a freelance journalist. She spent 25 years at The Repository in Canton where she was managing editor for nearly a decade, then served as WKSU's news director and digital editor until her retirement.