INDIANAPOLIS — A new effort is underway at the Indiana Statehouse to better protect teachers in the classroom following a WRTV Investigation into teacher injuries.
House Bill 1107 would require schools to report school employee injuries to the Indiana Department of Education who would post a public database on their website with any personally identifiable information removed.
“My wife is a teacher and was actually injured at school,” said Rep. Ed Clere, R-New Albany, author of HB1107. “It's a policy issue for me and it's also a personal issue. This is going to allow us to understand more about the problem. How often it’s happening, where it’s happening.”
The state of Indiana does not compile data on teacher injuries.
WRTV Investigates filed records requests with two dozen school districts in central Indiana for teacher and staff injuries involving students.
We counted more than 1,590 incidents and found all kinds of injuries — teachers hit, punched, kicked, hair pulled, headbutted and some suffering from concussions.
The Indiana State Teachers Association mentioned WRTV’s investigation in its testimony Wednesday to the House Education Committee in support of HB1107.
“We've seen in research including survey data nationally and a journalistic report that was done here in Indiana on the amount of incidents where school employees are bullied, harassed on social media and in some cases physically assaulted,” said John O’Neal with the Indiana State Teachers Association. “The statewide data here in Indiana is lacking.”
Hannah Moody left the teaching profession after losing 80% of the hearing in her right ear during an Elwood second grader’s outburst.
“I got a phone call saying I needed to come down because they were taking him down to the consequence room,” Moody said. “I was trying to talk to him through the door.”
The student broke off the door handle and threw it at metal on the door, Moody said.
“Next thing we knew, it sounded like a bomb went off,” Moody said. “My ear was on the other side of the door, and it went straight into my ear.”
Moody got her master’s degree in library science after the incident and now works in a library. She has no plans to go back to teaching.
“I don’t trust that I’ll be supported,” she said.
Moody said she and other teachers asked administrators for training to deal with the situation.
“We begged them that we needed to be trained to properly deal with this, because it was just out of control,” Moody said.
Moody said that training didn’t happen, and two weeks into her teaching job, the child was put in a consequence room during an outburst.
Rep. Clere’s bill would also require teacher to be trained on conflict de-escalation techniques.
"I just think it's important for teachers to have that training and that tool of de-escalation,” Clere said.
Clere amended the bill Wednesday by clarifying that the teacher injuries that should be reported should be injuries that result in a teacher missing work or filing a workman’s compensation claim, or an injury is required to be reported as part of the school’s policy.
“Obviously a teacher missing work because of an injury caused by a student, that’s something we as policy makers need to be aware of and need to be working on,” Clere said.
Clere said the goal is to gather information and reduce the number of teachers who are hurt on the job.
“Just bringing attention to the issue can do a lot of good,” Clere said.
The House Education Committee did not vote on HB1107 Wednesday but is expected to do so next week.
WRTV created a teacher survey to learn more about the problem of teacher injuries and nearly 400 teachers responded.
More than half of teachers said they had been hurt on the job, and of those that said yes, half of the injuries were caused by a student.
- 73% of teachers said they had witnessed a student assaulting a teacher or staff member.
- 75% of teachers told WRTV they have seriously considered leaving the profession.
- 94% of educators believe schools and the legislature need to do more to address teacher safety.
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