Educators Attacked on Job

By Liz Carey

Olathe, KS ( – The shooting of a school resource officer and a school administrator in Olathe, Kansas, is just the latest in an increasing number of attacks on educators, officials say.

On Friday, the Olathe Police Department tweeted that a shooting had taken place in the “office area” of Olathe East High School around 1 p.m.

Olathe Police Department spokesman Sgt. Joel Yeldell said the shooter, a student at the school, was also shot before being arrested.

While information was thin on Friday afternoon, Yeldell said it was his understanding that the school administrator “contacted” the student in the office area. Around 10:30 a.m., the police received a report of shots fired and believed the student had shot the administrator.

In response, the school resource officer approached the situation, and the student shot the school resource officer. The school resource officer then returned fire.

Both the school administrator and the school resource officer were taken to a nearby hospital and are in stable condition. The student shooter is also in stable condition.

The shooting is just one of a string of attacks on teachers and school personnel over the past month.

In Pinecrest, Florida, a parent assaulted a teacher during a parent-teacher meeting, authorities said.

Mayade Ersoff, a teacher at Palmetto Middle School, said a student’s mother, Stephanie Armas, attacked her during the meeting.

“I think she didn’t like the answers that I was telling her,” Ersoff.

According to some reports, Ersoff to Armas, “You need to learn how to raise your child.”

After that, Ersoff said, Armas threw a picture frame at a wall, spit on desk and slapped the teacher on the left shoulder.

Armas was charged with battery.

According to school authorities, the student does not attend the middle school anymore. Ersoff, however, is working to get a restraining order against Armas.

In Pembroke Pines, Florida, a teacher was left on the floor and gasping for breath after she was attacked by 5-year-old student.

On March 2, Pembroke Pines Police said fire crews were called to Pembroke Pines Elementary School when police found the elementary school teacher “sitting on the ground against the wall, appearing to be in a faint state.”

According to the report, the officer found her in such rough shape as they waited for rescue to arrive, that she “continued to blink and breathe regularly, but at no point was able to vocally respond or show signs of a response.”

Officers said the student responsible for the attack was just 5 years old.

The incident began, officers said, when two students in the classroom, 4 and 5, began flipping chairs, and throwing things around the classroom and at the teachers. As other teachers got involved, they split up the students and took the 5-year-old into another room.

As they were trying to control the situation, teachers reported hearing the teacher in the room with the 5-year-old radioing for support. When other teachers arrived, they found the teacher on the ground. When they tried to help her up she was weak and dazed, then began to cough and dry heave.

The teacher was taken to Memorial Regional Hospital for evaluation and treatment.

Officers said, given the child’s age, it’s unlikely it will be charged with any crime.

Last month, in Las Vegas, a teacher reported that she had been left unconscious after an altercation with students.

The teacher, who works for Clark County School District, told KLAS that she did not want to give her name or the name of the middle school she worked at, but said that she was assaulted on the same day the school board was meeting about school violence.

The teacher said that a fight broke out between two girls that day. When she tried to stop it, she said, she ended up being tackled, punched several times and having her hair pulled. The attack left her momentarily unconscious and when she came to, she was surrounded by other students asking if she was okay.

Both students, she said, were suspended. And while she was required to fill out a report, she was still required to work the rest of the day, she said.

According to the school district, there have been more than 5,300 cases of violence reported in the district this year alone.

Also in February, a Texas teacher and baseball coach was attacked after telling kids they weren’t allowed to ride their ATVs on school property.

Michael Shott, physics teacher at Langham Creek High School in Houston, officials said, told an ATV rider on school property during baseball practice that they were not allowed to ride there. The rider left, but returned later on foot with three other ATV riders.

The four ATV riders were students at Aragon Middle School where Shott is an assistant baseball coach. The group chased Shott down in front of the high school and attacked him. Video of the attack later spread on social media later. Shott suffered a broken arm.

The four students were later taken into custody. School officials said they would be disciplined per the school’s code of conduct.

“Our campuses must be the safest places in our community for students, staff and visitors,” school officials said in a statement. “We will not tolerate anyone compromising the safe environment of our campuses, and will address violations to the greatest extent possible.”

According to the 2015-2016 National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS), the threat of violence and actual violence is on the rise. The 2015-2016 survey found that 10 percent of teachers reported being threatened with injury by a student, up from 8 percent in 2007-2008. Six percent of teachers reported actually being attacked by a student in 2015-2016, up from 4 percent in 2007-2008.

A study published in the Social Psychology of Education surveyed 3,403 K-12 teachers and found that one in five teachers who were victims of physical attacks, threats of physical violence or verbal aggression/intimidation said they did not report the incidents to school administrators.

Teachers say schools don’t have the mental health services students experiencing trauma, who may lash out in unpredictable ways, need. Additionally, budget cuts have left schools without the counselors, paraeducators, social workers and special education services needed to help needy students.

That leaves teachers in the line of fire. Reports of students as young as five biting, kicking, punching, throwing items, urinating on teachers and lashing out in other ways are the result, said Jeff Leake, former president of the Connecticut Education Association.

“They are coming to school with complex needs, and schools don’t have the resources to address the root causes of these incidents,” he said.