Q: What can I do if I feel threatened by a student or parent?
A: If a student or parent seriously threatens or assaults you, first find the help you need to get safely out of the situation. You can call the office, another teacher or 911. After your safety is taken care of, immediately write down what happened in as much detail as you can, then sign and date it (it is best to do this while the incident is fresh in your mind). Contact your principal or vice principal. If you feel that incident does not get an adequate response contact your Site Rep or BFT (549-2307). If needed, your written description will serve as the written affidavit that triggers the contractual requirement that your principal take appropriate steps to resolve the situation (Article 16.12).
In general when an incident occurs where the teacher feels threatened by a student there is a larger picture, and it is important to consult with the teams involved with the student in terms of next steps.
If the student does not have an IEP the teacher should consult with the principal and the COS team. The principal should be asked to request a consultation with a Behaviorist, even if the student does not have an IEP. If there is behavior contract, and the contract is not working or is unrealistic, the teacher should request a meeting to review the contract very soon. A referral to the COS Team should occur after any serious incident if a referral is not already in progress.
If a student has an IEP, the teacher should consult with the Special Education case manager to ensure that accommodations are being provided and goals are being addressed. If the student has a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) the teacher should ask for a meeting very soon to review the BIP and to make adjustments if needed.
Q: What can I do if I feel my administrator is not taking a safety-related situation seriously?
A: One thing you can do is to write a description of specific incidents that have occurred with a student or parent (see above) and then talk to your Site Rep for guidance on next steps. As a last resort, after consultation with all relevant teams and case managers, you can consider suspending a student from your classroom (see below). Suspending a student from your classroom is not a long-term solution, but it can serve to focus attention and resources on the situation.
Q: Can I suspend a student FROM MY CLASSROOM even if the student is not suspended from school? Has state law on this question changed? Can elementary teachers suspend students from their class?
A: Education Code Section 48910 allows a teacher to suspend a student from the teacher’s CLASSROOM on any of the grounds for suspension from school, such as making threats of physical injury, bullying, causing injury, defiance, disruption of school activities, stealing, willful use of force upon another person (except in self-defense) or damaging property. A student can be suspended from a classroom for the day of the incident and the day after. This section of the law has NOT changed even though new legislation on student suspension was passed in September 2014.
Teachers of students in grades K-3 continue to have the right to suspend the child from the CLASSROOM for the day of an incident and the next day.
It’s important to note that suspending a student from your classroom is not a long-term solution. It’s important to work closely with the your principal and COS team, and with the Special Education case manager and District behaviorist if the student has an IEP, to develop long-term solutions.
For students with IEPs, teachers CAN request an IEP Team meeting to review a student’s behavioral supports and we recommend this when there is a serious incident or a pattern of continual disruption of learning. Calling for an IEP Team meeting gives the teacher and others a chance to talk with the parents about the student’s needs and progress (or lack thereof). A Special Ed case manager can also call for an IEP Team meeting to review the IEP and the behavioral supports. The teacher can also request a meeting of just the professionals involved in the child’s IEP if that is best.
Q: If I suspend a student from my classroom what do I need to do?
A: You need to:
Immediately report the suspension to the principal. Be sure to make it clear that the student is suspended FROM the CLASSROOM (not from school) and to specify the days of the suspension.
Send the student to the principal or designee.
Ask the parents to attend a parent conference about the suspension (this can involve other teams and individuals at the site if appropriate). The principal can be requested to attend this conference.
Note: Teachers are encouraged to use the most accurate reason from the list above for the suspension, and to not use defiance/disruption unless no other reason is appropriate.
Note: During this suspension, the pupil suspended shall not be placed in another regular class during the period of suspension.
Q: What are some of the basic safety rights I am owed under the BFT/BUSD contract?
The right to ALWAYS have a way to communicate with the school office during work hours. If you do not have this you should contact BFT immediately.
The right to know if a student in your class has assaulted a teacher in the past.
The right to know if the parent/guardian of a student in your class has assaulted a teacher in the past.
The right to report a serious threat or assault by a student or parent/guardian and to request appropriate steps from the Principal.
Q: What should I do about a parent who I believe is targeting me or treating me unfairly?
A: Some recommended steps are:
Keep a log of all interactions with the parent.
Do not meet with the parent alone. Ask a colleague or administrator to accompany you in all meetings. Do not have unplanned conversations with the parent (beyond saying good morning, etc.)
Communicate with your principal about your concern.
If you feel the situation is not being taken seriously, contact your Site Rep so that your Union can assist you.
Q: Can I restrain a student?
A: Teachers have the authority to use reasonable physical restraint for the purpose of protecting themselves or their students. (Article 16. 8)
If a student needs to be restrained, the school crisis team who is trained in safe restraints should be called immediately.
Q: Should I break up a fight?
A: No. You should loudly tell the students to stop fighting and direct the onlookers to leave the area. You should NOT put yourself between the fighting students.
Q: What can I do if my classroom is unsafe?
A: You should alert your Site Rep so that the BFT/BUSD Safety Committee can investigate. This committee has the ability to determine whether a room is sufficiently safe for a teacher to conduct classes.
Q: What are my rights if my personal property is lost or damaged because I am breaking up a fight between students?
A: In this case the contract requires that the District reimburse the teacher for this loss or damage.
Q: Can I be required to perform specialized health procedures?
A: No, you cannot. Teachers have to volunteer to perform these procedures and they must receive adequate training.