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 4.5. of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) lays out the parameters bargained, but even more importantly is Article IV. Section 4.1.C. and Exhibit L – Assault Response Protocol.
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 paraeducators, 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.
- Next, make sure that you report and document 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.
- See Exhibit L – Assault Response Protocol and ensure that administration has followed all the steps in the protocol which includes asking you if you want to work with a union representative and notifying Human Resources of the incident.
- If steps 4 and 5 apply, but the administration is resistant to reporting this incident then contact the union and/or specifically use the terms “assault” or “threat” in your documentation.
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