DOWNTOWN CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The issue of student assaults on teachers has drawn the attention of state legislators in Columbus.
They are aware it's a growing problem, but what they don't know is how big a problem it is. That is why a bill is being sponsored by state Sen. Frank LaRose and others to gather data on the topic.
A similar bill passed the Senate unanimously in its previous session, but the session expired before it went to the House.
James Carpetto was a teacher at South High School in Cleveland. He was brutally attacked by a student, suffering a broken neck. He may be the
face of attacks on teachers in northeast Ohio, but he is not alone. Cellphone videos showing students attacking teachers pop up more often every day on social media, but it is an issue that is hard to quantify.
Is that because there are more cellphones to record attacks, or are there more attacks?
Compounding the problem is that attacks aren't reported to the state of Ohio. Currently, school districts fill out something called an EMIS report each year, the Education Management Information System. It tracks truancy, graduation rates, suspensions and student to student violence but not student to teacher violence.
From her experience in Barberton as a Vice Principal, Pam Hinton knows the problem well -- she once broke up two girls fighting.
"I just separated them and that made the one girl mad and she just stood up, started punching me, pulled my hair out and backed me up against a table. The other girl got up on the back of the table and just kicked the heck out of my head, neck," she said.
It resulted in a spinal cord injury.
Professor Eric Andelman is Chairman of the Department of Education at The Ohio State University and has studied the problem, he has his own war
story about a student who threatened him when he was a teacher. The student was suspended by a Vice Principal.
"And then the principal overturned the suspension because the parents were influential people and I left the profession very, very angry and disheartened," he said.
Attacks on teachers don't just leave physical scars, there are emotional ones as well, according to Andelman.
"Basically I have a victim mentality," Andelman said. "Am I not a good teacher, am I not a good behavior manager? Was I in the wrong place at the wrong time?"
The purpose of the legislation is to bring awareness to the issue and evaluate it to base further action on it. However, even when the data is tabulated
there will be other questions. What constitutes violence? Is it just a physical threat, a mental threat, or a physical attack by a student? Definitions need to be defined. And then there is the even more rapidly growing concern of parental threats. Should reporting of all violence be mandatory? Not just attacks that rise to the level of being reported to the police. Should there be penalties for not reporting?
There have been cases where grade and graduation data has been fudged by districts. The downside of this is that the best young teachers are entering a profession far different even from when they attended school only a few short years ago. Disillusionment has led to record numbers of teachers going elsewhere.