At least 45 Pennsylvania teachers quit citing violence, ‘unprecedented misbehavior’

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HARRISBURG, Pa. -- City teachers pleaded with district administrators Monday to help support them as they deal with what they are calling unprecedented misbehavior among children in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania schools, some of which is resulting in physical violence against teachers.

The Harrisburg Education Association says the behavioral issues have prompted the resignations of at least 45 teachers between July and October, according to WPMT. Further resignations have since occurred, according to Jody Barksdale, the association's president.

Some of the worst behavior has come from some of the district's youngest students, Barksdale said.

"Teachers and students are being hit, kicked, slapped, scratched, cussed at.... and observing other students flip over tables, desks and chairs. Teachers have had to take the rest of their class into the hallway to protect them during these outbursts," Barksdale told The Patriot News.

Amanda Sheaffer, a first-grade teacher in the district for four years, described the bad behavior she has experienced personally.

"I have been hit, I have been kicked, I have been restrained from behind where I've been unable to move my arms," she said. "It really throws off the whole day. I mean, you have an incident happen and you have to do a room clear, get all the students out, and then after that you have to take the time to do the write-up, and you have to make sure security comes and gets the kids."

The HEA says the complaints come from three or four school sites, but would not specify which ones. They say they want more support from administrators.

"Let's get together, as a task force, as a community, teachers, principals and see what we can put together to actually help these children that are displaying these atypical behaviors," Barksdale said.

School district leaders say they will work with teachers to get to the bottom of the behavioral problems.

"Once we meet and find out that there are needs that we need to have serviced, that means it's going to take parent involvement to make that happen," said Superintendent Sybil Knight-Burney.

Sheaffer says she has not thought of resigning in spite of the challenges she says she faces on a daily basis.

"I try to see the good, and think that these students and kids need me, and I'm trying to do something positive and different," she said.

The school district has responded to the HEA Claims with the following:

"In response to the Harrisburg School District’s Collective Bargaining Group, and earlier statements made to the media concerning issues facing our District, we find it unfortunate that our teacher organization has chosen to engage in public discourse opposed to factual and substantive discussions. The District is committed to promoting a safe and healthy work and learning environment for our faculty, staff and students. As we all can agree, student achievement is our primary mission.

Concerning the District’s staffing positions, the facts are as follows: The District had 55 instructional vacancies in July 2017, the District hired 130 direct and indirect support staff between April to August 2017, inclusive of 30 professional staff. We currently have 38 professional job vacancies as a result of resignations due to a host of reasons and retirements. Urban education is fraught with challenges, opportunities and experiences. The administration of the Harrisburg School District is dedicated and working extremely hard, providing year-long educator development and teacher mentoring programs. Additionally, processes for Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS) and/or Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) are in place throughout all schools.

Further, the District has an open door policy to advance communication and address any and all concerns from administrators, faculty, staff and/or students.
As a School District, our effectiveness and success hinges on all stakeholders taking a positive and committed stance on moving the quality of education forward for every student; this includes professional responsibility, accountability and true ownership of the work that puts students first and continues to move our District in the direction of academic growth and achievement. As a District, we will continue to strive to overcome isolated challenges and resolve differences. Furthermore, we endeavor to build a culture of collaboration among all stakeholders that is focused on improving teaching and learning in every school throughout the District.


  • john carestia

    Congratulations teachers for taking a stand, because the people in control are too afraid and unwilling to do what is best for the kids.

  • Lord Chesterfield

    The district administrators put forth a bunch of gobbledygook that has the value of a 3 dollar bill. These children are like swine that have breached the fences of domestication and should be referred to as ‘Feral Children’. Discarded by a sperm donor and biological incubator to survive on their own by any means necessary. They have neither the skills or teachings of civilized people yet for some reason protected from extermination by a foolish lot of scoundrels under the guise of law. Laws of the foolish with the ways and means to protect themselves while the common person must wade with this swill. I say to you conservatives, reconsider your position on abortion as gestation is the most dangerous time in the life of the Feral Child. Vote yea and perhaps we see this plague extinguish itself without greater struggle!

  • Somewhere in Nort'east PA

    The teachers and parents are TERRIFIED to administer discipline these days. They are afraid of being sued, fired or even jailed for even raising their voices to a child.

  • beckyldblog

    This is what happens when you are your child’s friend, rather than their parent. When you don’t discipline and you make excuses for your child, allowing a child to do whatever they want , or feel is a form of abuse, they need discipline.

  • warningfakenews

    Many people here bring up good points, let me bring up another.

    Government enables splintered families by funding them. Fatherless kids don’t enjoy the benefits of growing up with a dad in the house. Growing up without a dad, who typically serves as a disciplinarian has negative effects.

    And no, discipline isn’t really about punishment. Medicine as a field of study is a discipline. Being a great artist is a discipline. Discipline is about restraint in some things so that we can excel in others.

    Moms do wonderful work, they are awesome, but ask any kid without a dad if he wants one. They’ll tell you.

  • Jeff Woehrle

    Behold the fruits of liberalism.

    At least we can rest assured that any possible ‘gender confusion’ of the kids will be promptly addressed.

  • McCracken

    This all falls back on the parents. I was more afraid of my parents, than any teacher. You know what? I never got in trouble in school. I thank my parents, every opportunity I get, for raising me well.

  • Creamy Joe Paterno

    These are the districts those horny molester teachers should go to. The WNEP viewing area is LOADED with sexually awkward yet very sexually curious but also sexually confused individuals that roam the streets or just coach youth sports. It’d make for an interesting documentary.

  • The Trump Klan

    It’s the new Trump generation of degenerates. Their emulating the jackass in the White House that their crazy violent parents voted for.

    • Carl

      kinda thinking this really hearkens back to his predecessor- I mean inviting fruit loop girl to the white house, canonizing travon- please. you have the right to bash Trump but I don’t think physical violence is happening in the White house

    • Robert

      Trumps kids aren’t getting drunk or smoking dope Like Obama’s. I’m actually pretty content that Michelle lost her job to an immigrant as well.

  • warningfakenews

    I’m glad they quit citing violence and unprecedented misbehavior, but now what do the teachers call it when a kid hits another kid or shouts in class? Social activism? Soros-based behavior?

    It’s always amusing to poke fun at a headline like this one.

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