City teacher has for­given stu­dent who struck her, union leader says

Baltimore Sun - - NEWS - By Lil­lian Reed and Christina Tkacik Bal­ti­more Sun re­porter Talia Rich­man con­tributed to this ar­ti­cle. lireed@balt­ twit­­lianEReed

A Fred­er­ick Dou­glass High School teacher has for­given the stu­dent who struck her across the face Wed­nes­day, the Bal­ti­more teach­ers union pres­i­dent said.

The teacher had just re­turned from a leave of ab­sence and was spend­ing her first day back in the class­room Wed­nes­day when the in­ci­dent with the stu­dent oc­curred, said Bal­ti­more Teach­ers Union pres­i­dent Ma­ri­etta English. The mo­ment was cap­tured in a vi­ral video this week.

The video, posted to In­sta­gram on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon, de­picts two stu­dents stand­ing close to a teacher, one of whom ap­pears to be re­strain­ing the other. At one point one of the stu­dents backs away and the other stu­dent strikes the teacher, who re­coils. The stu­dent then leaves the class- room while curs­ing.

The teacher could not be reached for com­ment Fri­day.

“She is trau­ma­tized by it, but she has for­given the stu­dent and she wants the stu­dent to get some help,” English said.

Dis­trict of­fi­cials placed coun­selors and so­cial work­ers at the school Fri­day for stu­dents and staff to ad­dress ques­tions and con­cerns about the in­ci­dent.

School lead­ers said the stu­dent would be dis­ci­plined ac­cord­ing to Bal­ti­more City Pub­lic Schools’ Code of Con­duct.

“Our fo­cus is on en­sur­ing a safe teach­ing and learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment for stu­dents and staff,” dis­trict of­fi­cials said in the state­ment Thurs­day. “We un­der­stand that an in­ci­dent like this one can be dif­fi­cult to process. School coun­selors and so­cial work­ers will be avail­able at the school for stu­dents and staff to ad­dress any ques­tions and con­cerns they may have.”

English said the ad­min­is­tra­tion has been sup­port­ive of the teacher fol­low­ing the in­ci­dent. The union pres­i­dent hopes that stu­dents with anger is­sues are pro­vided ac­cess to trained school coun­selors and psy­chol­o­gists who can help them man­age im­pulses to lash out.

In 2014, The Bal­ti­more Sun found that school em­ploy­ees re­ported more in­juries than those in any city agency ex­cept the po­lice depart­ment. More than a third of the school sys­tem’s to­tal work­ers’ com­pen­sa­tion claims in 2013 were re­lated to teacher as­saults or run-ins with stu­dents.

“We­cometo work ev­ery sin­gle day try­ing to help stu­dents,” English said. “But we want all of our stu­dents to be safe and we want our teach­ers in a safe en­vi­ron­ment.”

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