BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore City Schools’ CEO Dr. Sonja Santelises made her first comments after a recent series of viral attacks on teachers and support staff by students.
“We have a code of discipline in place. We’re ensuring that it’s implemented. We’re taking measures to reassure staff that they are in fact safe,” she told WJZ. “What I’ve been hearing more from the community and the calls that I’ve been receiving and taking is we know our schools are frankly an extension of our community, and this is about making sure our young people and our staff are in environments that are supportive despite the fact that we have larger challenges within the community.”
Incidents include an assault on a teacher at Frederick Douglass High School in early November. The teacher reacted calmly after being struck in the face. She only recently was teaching again after undergoing cancer treatment and said she forgives the student who hit her.
Last week, a cafeteria worker at National Academy Foundation was attacked in a dispute over milk.
In another violent encounter, a student struck a teacher at Poly.
And a student used pepper spray on a teacher at Dunbar.
Dr. Santelises said she could not reveal anything about discipline.
“I can’t speak directly to students because there are federal laws that protect the identity of young people… I can’t talk about individual students to protect them, but I have had far more outpouring about how to we make sure the community is coming in and wrapping their arms around young people who are extensions of who we are,” she said.
Baltimore’s teachers union has called the violence against teachers “inexcusable,” and is convening a task force to look into solutions.
“Our schools and our young people are a reflection of some of the challenges going on in our community,” Dr. Santelises said.