Alarming number of Broward teachers say they have been threatened or assaulted by students

(WSVN) - Some South Florida teachers are sounding the alarm, saying they feel “unsafe at school.” They say there’s been a shocking number of attacks against them by students. 7’s Brian Entin investigates.

A teacher punched in the face by a student.

Another pushed to the ground in her classroom.

Teachers assaulted: It’s a problem across the country, and in Broward County, the problem is getting worse.

Anna Fusco, Broward Teachers Union: “Our teachers are saying that, ‘I physically feel threatened by a student.’ I don’t believe it should be ignored.”

The president of the Broward Teacher’s Union, Anna Fusco, says student violence against teachers is out of control, so she sent out this survey to Broward teachers.

Almost 24% say they have been threatened with violence by students, 13% say they have actually been assaulted, and half of teachers say they have felt unsafe at school.

Anna Fusco: “We can’t do our jobs if somebody is kicking my knees in or if somebody is jumping on my back and throwing me down to the ground or somebody is punching me down to the ground.”

The teachers’ personal stories in the union survey are downright disturbing.

A teacher at Lyons Creek Middle School wrote: “I was pregnant this past year, and students still pushed and shoved me down the stairs in the hallways and yelled profanity at me in class.”

A teacher at Deerfield Park Elementary needed surgery after “a student got angry because he didn’t want to listen to me and then threw a desk at my leg, injuring my knee. The student was taken out of my class for one day and then returned.”

And a teacher at Millennium 6-12 Collegiate Academy wrote: “I had a student [who] threatened to strip and poison me, then hug my dead body before he buries me.”

Some students are clearly disturbed, but Fusco says it’s no excuse for violence.

Anna Fusco: “We get that you might be angry, depressed, frustrated, going through malnourishment. Whatever it may be, it’s still not acceptable to beat on somebody. It has to be addressed, and that is the main reason we did this survey.”

More than 1,800 teachers and staff responded to the union survey, but we also wanted to know how the Broward School District tracks student violence against teachers, and interestingly, it is through workers’ comp claims.

Broward teachers filed almost 4,000 claims over the last five school years for incidents involving students, and some teachers say they are not supported by higher-ups, writing “attempts are made to blame the teacher instead of the student.”

One teacher said they were “told to deal with it,” that “they are only children,” and to “pick another field.”

Brian Entin: “There are teachers in the survey who say they were assaulted, and then the student was put back in their classroom.”

Anna Fusco: “That is usually 100% of the time.”

Brian Entin: “Is that OK?”

Anna Fusco: “It is not OK.”

Fusco has discussed the survey with the Broward County Public School Board and hopes it will spark change.

The Broward school district did not respond to our request for comment.

Click the following link if you want to read the full teacher survey: 2019 BTU School Safety and Discipline Survey.

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