The educators of East Side Teachers Association (ESTA) write to inform the public of the state of your schools.
On Tuesday, January 24, two students at Independence High School attacked multiple staff members who attempted to stop them from fighting other students. As staff attempted to prevent the two students from fighting other students, the two student-aggressors repeatedly shoved, grabbed, hit, and punched staff members to the point where three sought medical attention. All three staff members suffered injuries (arms, shoulders, back and neck). All three had x-rays and have scheduled physical therapy.
Additionally, this attack involved a parent of one of the two students. The parent illegally walked onto campus and repeatedly harassed staff, provoked the two students to fight others, punched a staff member, and threatened others, all clear violations of Ed Code 44810(a), which states that “every … parent or guardian of a pupil of the school, who comes upon any school ground or into any schoolhouse and there willfully interferes with the discipline, good order, lawful conduct, or administration of any school class or activity of the school, with the intent to disrupt, obstruct, or to inflict damage to property or bodily injury upon any person, is guilty of a misdemeanor.”
Neither the principal nor the associate principal at Independence High School pressed charges against the parent.
Also, neither student is currently facing expulsion. The Independence site administration (principal and associate principal) suspended the two students for 4 days and then allowed the students to return to campus. Neither followed up with the attacked staff to investigate the severity of the student attack.
California Education Code 48915(a) classifies “assault or battery, as defined in Sections 240 and 242 of the Penal Code, upon any school employee” as an act for which the school principal or superintendent “shall recommend the expulsion” of the pupil unless the principal or superintendent determine that the circumstances do not warrant expulsion or other means of correction “would address the conduct.” The school board may then expel said students under 48915(b) if they find that either “other means of correction are not feasible or have repeatedly failed to bring about proper conduct,” or that “due to the nature of the act, the presence of the pupil causes a continuing danger to the physical safety of the pupil or others.”
The Independence principal and associate principal decided to not recommend expulsion for the students because they determined the attack directed against staff was “incidental contact.”
The attacks were not incidental. Staff stood between the two student-aggressors and their targets. To get to their targets, the two students repeatedly shoved, grabbed, hit, and punched the staff members.
Since the start of the 2021-2022 school year, student attacks on staff have increased district wide. A small minority of students have increasingly threatened, belittled, and in multiple ways shown a blatant disregard for the authority of educators. Such behaviors, combined with the increased prevalence of drugs in our schools, have contributed to educational environments that punish the vast majority of students by allowing the destructive behavior of the few to persist on campuses district wide.
Administrative decisions at both the site and district have enabled these students.
ESTA will continue to fight for safe environments for both our students and staff. We are hoping our site and district administration along with our school board will join us in this pursuit.