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Indiana Dept of Education tells schools to track and report teacher injuries

IDOE will compile the staff injury numbers, without identifiable information, into a publicly available database
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The Indiana Department of Education office at the statehouse
Posted at 1:21 PM, Mar 22, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-22 14:35:50-04

INDIANAPOLIS— For what appears to be the first time, the Indiana Department of Education is telling school districts they must track and report teacher injuries.

A new law, House Enrolled Act 1591, took effect July 1, 2023 that requires schools to track teacher injuries and report the data to the Indiana Department of Education.

As WRTV Investigates reported in November 2023, Indiana schools have not been able to report teacher injuries to the state, this despite the new law that requires them to do just that.

For months, WRTV has been asking IDOE about its plans for implementing the new law and gathering data on teacher injuries.

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Schools can't report teacher injuries to the state despite new law

In a March 22 letter to schools statewide from Secretary of Education Dr. Katie Jenner, IDOE said, “public schools are required to report certain employee injury information to IDOE if the employee is physically injured on the job by a direct action of a student.”

The IDOE communication went on to say, “Additional information regarding reporting requirements and timeline can be found in this memo []. Contact IDOE’s Office of School Building Physical Safety and Security with any questions.”

The memo to schools says as part of the data collection, schools have to provide the following information:

  • The number of incidents when an employee’s injury was required to be reported to the public schools' worker’s compensation carrier;
  • The number of incidents when an employee’s injury caused them to miss all or part of one or more work days;
  • The number of incidents when an employee’s injury was required to be reported to the public school pursuant to the public school’s reporting policy; and
  • The number of incidents, in aggregate.

“The annual reporting timeline for this requirement occurs from July 1 through June 30,” read the memo. “Schools will report through certified data submission via Data Exchange.”
Rep. Ed Clere, R-New Albany, said IDOE should have notified schools before the 2023-2024 school year began of their obligation to track teacher injuries.

"The guidance is overdue, but welcome," said Clare. "We should be doing everything we can to support teachers and other school employees, and this data will help inform policymakers regarding a serious issue that is not well documented and certainly not adequately recognized or discussed."

IDOE will compile the staff injury numbers, without identifiable information, into a publicly available database.

As WRTV Investigates has reported on this growing problem, Indiana teachers are kicked, punched and headbutted by their own students.

PREVIOUS | Parents explain why teacher injuries are happening

Earlier this month, a substitute teacher said he was injured after being assaulted by a student at Perry Meridian High School.

A student at Franklin Community High School also injured a teacher this school year.

"This behavior is not tolerated and FCHS administration will follow the guidelines outlined in the student handbook as they conclude their investigation," said Robin Betts, Director of Community and Public Relations at Franklin Community Schools. 'FCS is committed to providing a safe, secure learning environment."

In November, Franklin Community Schools already had five teacher injuries so far this school year.

However, when Franklin Community Schools tried to report the instances to the Indiana Department of Education, they received the following response from the Indiana Department of Education.

"This is not available yet," read the IDOE response. "The process for providing this data is being developed and will be a template form to be uploaded into Data Exchange. Once this is available, announcements will be posted out as well as information where instructions on completing can be located."

The author of the teacher injury reporting law, Rep. Ed. Clere, R-New Albany, was disappointed.


"We expected more by this point,” said Clere. "I’m disappointed in the apparent lack of urgency on the part of the Department of Education."

Clere authored HEA 1591, which took effect July 1, to address teacher turnover.

"It took effect well before the start of school," said Clere. "I thought reporting would begin with the 2023-2024 school year."

Because Indiana has not tracked the problem, WRTV Investigates filed records requests with two dozen school districts in Central Indiana for teacher and staff injuries involving students.

We found all kinds of injuries — teachers hit, punched, kicked, hair pulled, headbutted and some suffering from concussions.

The Indiana State Teachers Association released the following statement in November:

The tracking and reporting of teacher injuries in HEA 1591 was a top priority for ISTA. Representative Clere worked diligently to ensure the inclusion of this language in the last legislative session. We were optimistic that schools would promptly receive updates and guidance on complying with the new law as it took effect on July 1. It is disheartening to learn that schools have yet to receive such guidance, even several months into the school year and nearly eight months after the bill's passage. Understanding the severity of student-related injuries on our teaching staff is crucial. We urge the department to expedite the issuance of guidance to schools promptly. It is imperative that we address this matter urgently for the well-being of our educators and the effectiveness of the reporting system.
-ISTA President Keith Gambill