School district teachers in Pennsylvania’s capital requested support after multiple educators resigned due to student violence, Penn Live reported Monday. At a Monday Harrisburg School Board meeting, a dozen teachers and parents asked for stricter responses to classroom disruptions. According to the Harrisburg Education Association (HEA), at least 45 teachers resigned between July and October.

Jody Barksdale, the association’s president, told those in attendance that teachers and students were being hit, kicked, slapped and cursed at, with teachers taking the rest of their class into the hallway to protect them during the incidents.

"We have kids that threaten teachers and threaten each other," Barksdale said. "Parents come to school sometimes threatening to beat up teachers because they gave their child after-school detention. It's just getting out of control."

Barksdale said the association wants a committee composed of teachers, administrators and parents to manage students who display violent behavior. The HEA raised similar concerns in January.

Amanda Sheaffer, a first-grade teacher in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, spoke about the violent incidents in her classroom.

“I have been kicked, hit, scratched. I’ve had a student physically restraining me in front of my other students. Many of the personal things that I have brought for my classroom have been broken or destroyed,” she said. “Many minutes are spent each day dealing with violence that is happening in the classroom.”

“How am I meeting my students’ needs with this behavior happening? How am I supposed to have a safe, nurturing learning environment when this behavior happens?” she asked those in attendance at the school board meeting.  

The Harrisburg School District issued an official statement regarding the concerns, saying 38 positions were vacant for multiple reasons, including retirement. 

“We find it unfortunate that our teacher organization has chosen to engage in public discourse opposed to factual and substantive discussions," the statement said. "The District is committed to promoting a safe and healthy work and learning environment for our faculty, staff and students. As we can all agree, student achievement is our primary mission."

"Urban education fraught with challenges, opportunities and experiences," the statement went on. "The administration of the Harrisburg School District is dedicated and working extremely hard, providing year-long educator development and teacher mentoring programs. As a School District, our effectiveness and success hinges on all stakeholders taking a positive and committed stance on moving the quality of education forward for every student. As a District, we will continue to strive to overcome isolated challenges and resolve differences."

classroom Harrisburg, Pennsylvania teachers raised concerns about increasing incidents of violence in their classrooms. Photo: Ryan Stanton/Flickr