Bully Students Threaten Workplace Safety for WV Schools

January 18, 2008 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia and the West Virginia School Service Personnel found more than half of 2,000 school employees surveyed felt intimidated by a classroom bully last year.

The Associated Press reports about 58% of teachers, instructional aides, bus drivers, and school personnel also believe that student misbehavior in classrooms is a “significant problem.” Almost all (92%) of the school employees surveyed identified bullying as a problem at their schools or on buses.

In addition to the safety issue, more than a third of teachers (36%) said they lose 20% of instructional time every week to disruptive behavior. What’s more, many said they fear employer retaliation if they report discipline problems.

According to the AP, the two unions issued a list of recommendations along with results of the survey for Governor Joe Manchin and legislators to consider. Manchin has made school discipline part of his legislative agenda for this year’s session.

The main thrust of the recommendations is strengthening and enforcing the 1995 Safe Schools Act. AFT-WV President Judy Hale said the legislation was good, “but the breakdown has come in the implementation. We’ve had the failure of many administrators to follow through on many of the things in that code.”

The unions want to institute five-teacher committees to review disciplinary practices at every school on a monthly basis to help ensure that principals are held accountable for giving support to teachers and school employees.

“The discipline issue has gotten much worse, as the survey shows. It’s a common occurrence for teachers to be cursed,” Hale said in the news report. “And the children who are there to learn are being shortchanged. It is a small number of students who constantly disrupt, so it’s time we took a good, hard look at this again.”