PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A survey of Salem-Keizer Public School employees showed staff and students are injured physically and emotionally by an increasing number of violent attacks by students, the Salem-Keizer Education Association said.
In a letter sent to Superintendent Christy Perry and others in school leadership in the district, SKEA President Tyler Scialo-Lakeberg said they want to work to implement the changes recommended by the survey to “keep our students and staff safe.”
Read: SKEA letter about recent employee survey
The survey of 1256 employees was “sent out a couple of months ago,” Scialo-Lakeberg told KOIN 6 News. She said “much of this situation was occurring before Covid … However, coming back from the pandemic we have more students unregulated that need more resources than we are able to provide as a District.”
The survey showed more than half of the district employees said a student tried to harm them (or others) within the past year. Staff reported being punched in the face, bitten, scratched till bleeding, hair pulled, had things thrown at them — “simply too many instances of violence to list here,” the letter stated.
But the survey also showed the “District is not always complying with its legal obligation to evaluate students with special needs after they act aggressively.” And the letter states most employees said they haven’t been “adequately trained” on what to do when a student gets violent.
The district is “not in compliance” with certain OSHA regulations on safety, the letter states.
Scialo-Lakeberg and Edie Buchanan, the President of the Association of Salem-Keizer Education Support Professionals, want the district to “take immediate action to protect employees and students from further harm and create a place where everyone feels safe.”
They want to see proper training on how to respond to violence, how to report injuries and violence and want first aid kits “readily available” in each building.
They also want every student-caused injury to be investigated and have a behavior intervention plan for students with special needs.
“Staff should be equipped with personal protective equipment to protect themselves from a violent attack,” they said in the letter.