Letter to the Editor

Keeping students, teachers safe

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Dear Editor,

Nebraska teachers value and appreciate the enduring, strong support that Nebraskans have demonstrated for students, educators and our great public schools. We are again asking for your support.

There are an increasing number of incidents where students lash out at other students or school staff, threatening and committing assaults. There is a lack of support for teachers who are desperate to keep their students and themselves safe. These stories aren’t often disclosed due to student confidentiality, but they are very real and they’re happening every day—and teachers need solutions.

The Nebraska State Education Association received more than 160 responses to a December survey in which educators across the state reported their experience with student behaviors threatening the safety of teachers and students. There are heartbreaking stories of teachers who have been assaulted by students, often with severe injuries. Students have been exposed daily to disruptive behavior from other students, significantly impacting their learning opportunity.

The Nebraska State Education Association, working with state senators, the Nebraska Council of School Administrators, the Nebraska Association of School Boards, and other advocacy groups, worked to develop amendment 1803 to LB147, a legislative solution to address this growing problem. The two primary goals of LB147 are to:

1) allow a teacher to request that a violent or disruptive student be held out of the classroom, with the goal of returning the student to the class as soon as possible after appropriate instructional or behavioral interventions or supports are implemented; and

2) outline in state statute that school staff may need to use reasonable physical intervention to safely manage the behavior of a student to protect such student, another student or school personnel from physical injury.

As it stands, there are no consistent policies or procedures in Nebraska schools that address the management of disruptive behavior in the school environment. LB147 will set forth consistent, clear directives to provide a safe learning environment for students and staff alike.

NSEA is also pursuing adequate funding to provide additional mental and behavioral health resources for our students and additional training support for school staff to reduce the incidence of assaults and injuries.

Teachers want safe learning environments for all children, every day. I encourage you to read Amendment 1803 to LB147 and to support teachers by encouraging your state senator to stand with teachers and give us the tools we need to keep your children—all children—safe while they learn and grow. We love our students and our profession, and we want the best for all our children.

Co-signed by

Robin Henrichs of the McCook Education Association and 54 other education association presidents.

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