Teachers contest Fairless letter
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A letter responding to reported teacher assaults at Fairless Elementary School is the source of a new rift between the Woodland Hills Education Association and the district's administration.
After reports of 10 teacher assaults and 30 calls to the North Braddock Police Department at Fairless Elementary surfaced last month, the Woodland Hills School District issued a letter to parents calling the claims "exaggeration bordering on misrepresentation."
Pennsylvania State Education Association spokesman Butch Santicola said the letter downplayed the severity of the situation at the school.
The letter, which is posted on the superintendent's page on the district's Web site, said there were 10 incidents in which students with behavioral problems were violent, but teachers weren't the intended targets.
The letter also disputes a claim that a kindergartner attempted to choke a teacher with a rope, saying the student "placed his hands on a teacher's neck." It says an 11-year-old student did not head butt his pregnant teacher, but pushed her in the stomach.
The letter details punishments, including suspension and expulsion for the two most-violent incidents, and says that three Fairless teachers and a support staffer reported injuries from student behavior.
Mr. Santicola said nine teachers -- one of them twice -- were hurt intentionally by students, not three as stated in the superintendent's letter. He said at least three were transported to the hospital by ambulance and all sought medical attention. He also said the pregnant teacher was definitely head butted, not pushed, in the stomach.
"We're very tired -- tired of being called liars, tired of the direction this district is going," he said. "We can't fix the problem if they don't admit we have one. We want to fix the problem."
District spokeswoman Maria McCool said she used incident reports submitted by teachers to determine the number of teacher attacks, and only four were on file. She also said the district calls police for all incidents and all 30 phone calls weren't concerning student behavior.
She said administrators met with teachers union President Lisa Harris before the holiday break and a second meeting is scheduled for Wednesday.
First Published January 7, 2010 12:03 am