Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Threats and Schools

What do you do when a kid threatens you? It's tough to answer, since the DOE doesn't appear to take threats against teachers seriously enough to merit more than a five-day suspension. What did the student say?

“I’m going to beat the s–t out of you,” Ghastin quoted him as yelling. “I’m a boxer, so I can ­really f–k you up.”

Doesn't sound all that collegial, does it? What do you say to something like that? According to the article, what this teacher said was, “If you hit me, I’ll kill you.”

Now that's a clear threat, and under CR A-421 you can be disciplined for it. On the other hand, if the events in the story are reported correctly, this is an excited utterance blurted out in self-defense. One of the things I found oddest about the story was that it seems to have worked. Would it have been better to say let's sit down and talk about it? What would've happened? I don't know, and I don't suppose we ever will.

On one snowy day, I had a guy in Brooklyn object to the way I parked.  I was going to tell him to go to hell, but then he claimed to be a cop, and showed me his gun. I didn't ask for his police ID, and I didn't argue or object. I just nodded, got in my car and moved the hell away from there.

You can't really know what you're going to do in a situation like that until you face it. I once had a student offer to blow my head off with a 45 at my school. He was a little upset because he walked into my classroom and I'd told him in no uncertain terms to get out. For whatever reason, I didn't actually expect him to follow through, so I guess I wasn't feeling the same thing as the teacher in the story. I did a little legwork, identified him, and reported him. He was a special education student, and the school did absolutely nothing beyond calling his parents, telling me he was brain damaged. I told them that I didn't think any kid who walks around threatening to kill people belonged in the same building with my students. But I was overruled. 

Meanwhile, the teacher in the Post story sits in a rubber room, and the kid goes back to class.

I'm very curious to see how this plays out. If the kid said that in front of a roomful of witnesses, I'd think that the teacher has options. Personally, if I wanted to call the police, I wouldn't ask permission from a dean. I'd do it myself. I suppose this teacher still has this option, and I wonder why she doesn't exercise it.

I understand that the mayor doesn't want to go overboard with disciplining students. But personally, I don't see how you look the other way when kids say things like that.  I also don't see how you fault a teacher for blurting out a response when her physical well-being was being threatened.

Especially if it worked. Maybe there was a better way, but I don't know what it is.

Do you?
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