Baltimore teacher has forgiven student who struck her, union says

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 classroom 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.

“We come to 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.”

Baltimore Sun reporter Talia Richman contributed to this article.

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