Maintaining a Safe Working Environment
It is the District’s responsibility under WA State law to provide a safe working environment for staff and a safe learning environment for students. (WAC 392-400-225) Education employees, both certificated and classified, possess the authority to impose discipline upon a student for misconduct which violates the rules of the school district/building. Article IV, Section 4.B. of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) lays out the parameters bargained, but statute takes it all a step further.
So—what should you do if you have a disruptive or violent student?
First, work with your administrator (and Sped teacher as appropriate) to create a specific plan for getting assistance when a student becomes violent or tries to escape the premises. Prioritize the steps:
Getting your other students, your para eds, and yourself out of harm’s way. This may include moving your students to the hall or a different part of the playground or building. Make sure the violent student is watched over by an adult when isolated. Do not attempt to physically stop or remove the violent the child yourself, unless there is no other option.
Contact the office by phone, or by sending a student for help.
Call 911—if no help is forthcoming from the school office and there is not a school resource officer on the premises, a violent student constitutes an emergency.
Next, make sure that you report the incident:
If the child kicks, hits, scratches, bites, punches, throws books, chairs, or computers, or other damage, it is critical that you file an incident report with the building administration. Send a copy of the report to human resources and keep a copy for your personal files. Sometimes building administrators will try to dissuade you from filing an incident report. However, filing the report is District policy, and in order to protect yourself from liability, you must file the report. If the building principal is not supportive in providing assistance, contact your Union Representative.
If the student has injured a student, you, or another adult in your classroom, you need to file a police report. This puts the District on the alert, and will help focus them on providing appropriate intervention and assistance.
Suspend the student from your classroom. RCW 28A.600.020 allows the teacher to exclude a student from his/her classroom for up to two days. Prior to the student returning to the classroom, administration must confer with the teacher.
For additional information on ways to protect yourself and your students from abuse or insult while on school business, check out the following statutes: RCW 28A.635.010-030; RCW 28A.635.090; RCW 28A.635.100; and RCW.91.76.180.