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How can I protect myself from student threats?

Q: One of my students threatened to stab me and beat me up in the parking lot. My principal wants to allow the student back into school and into my classroom. What can I do?

A: I'm very sorry that you face student threats but pleased you are an Association member and that we can assist you in reporting and documenting the situation.

Your first step should be to call your UniServ Director (UD) for advice and support. Your UD can help you report the student threats to local law enforcement.

Thanks in part to lobbying by VEA, Virginia Code section 18.2-60 was amended, making oral threats to school personnel on school property a Class 1 misdemeanor, and written threats on school grounds, at school sponsored activities, or on school buses a Class 6 felony. 
VEA also lobbied for Virginia Code section 22.1-276.2 requiring each school district to have a policy on "disruptive students."

So it's important to review your local policy with your UD to make sure you provide the required documentation of disruptive behavior and notice to the student's parent or guardian.

Your UD can also help you review your School's Student Code of Conduct and file appropriate disciplinary referrals or reports for violations of that Code. If the Principal has not imposed the penalties specified by the Code of Conduct you might be able to file a grievance against the Principal. If the threatening student receives special education services, you should document concerns about placement and recommendations for change. If the student is not already receiving special education, you might refer the student for screening because threats may indicate some emotional disturbance. Asocial behavior might also give you reason to suspect child abuse that you should document with school officials to trigger reports to the local department of social services.

Finally, your UD can help you explain in writing why you believe the student should be removed from your class, emphasizing concerns about your safety and the safety of other students in your class. Teachers cannot veto student placement or assignment, but you can document your concerns that this student poses a danger.

Thanks for raising an important issue that--unfortunately--also confronts some of your fellow education employees.


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