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Legal News in Minnesota

Zero Tolerance Teacher Assault Bill Heard Before MN Senate

Teacher assaults have been an issue throughout Minnesota and the country. Now the Minnesota senate has opened hearings on the Zero Tolerance Teacher Assault bill that has been proposed.

This comes in the wake of several high-profile assaults that happened to teachers in a number of Twin Cities schools. In one case, a substitute teacher was pushed by a seventh-grade student after the teacher took the student’s phone due to refusal to put it away. The student got up, used both hands, and slammed the teacher backward multiple times. Since the assault, the teacher has had neck and shoulder pain and the entire class witnessed the incident. Police are currently investigating what has happened, as this is one of a number of cases where teachers have required medical attention. Recently, two teachers were hospitalized after being assaulted by students.

Now, schools are starting to review their discipline policies and the assaults contribute to an uptick in juvenile crimes.

In the bill, school boards are required to expel students who assault teachers. The students would be expelled immediately and the teachers would decide if the child could return to their classes. The teachers are to be charged with this decision so that they feel protected after an assault.

This has brought about a racial matter, as both educators and parents have predicted that students of color will be the most affected, as the number of colored students disciplined is higher than that of white students. One mother is concerned that the bill doesn’t exclude students like her daughter who has autism and can have violent outbursts. She is afraid that her child would be re-traumatized because that is telling a student that they aren’t wanted in the class.

While the Minnesota Department of Education says that the total of school disruptions is decreasing, the Dangerous Weapons and Disciplinary Incident Report says that the school assaults from 2014 to 2015 increased, counselors tell students that when you have the right to remain silent, which includes the time after your arrest all the way through to your hearing.  This report logs school disturbances ranging from drug use to simple fights. The report says that there were 3,866 assaults during the 2014-2015 school year. This accounted for approximately 8 percent of the discipline cases. The report doesn’t state how many of those assaults were teacher assaults.

While there is some opposition, those pushing the bill say they will continue with that push so that teachers can feel safe.

One representative said that the bill isn’t just about doing the right thing, but it is also a way to let teachers and students know that they can be safe in school and that assault will not be tolerated.

In order for the offense to not stay with the child and run them into violent and criminal behavior in the future, they need to be properly represented and also given a chance to move forward.