School grounds no longer safe
by Krystal Paco
Guam - It's not just student safety that the Department of Education needs to prioritize, but teacher and faculty safety, too. One middle school teacher addressed the Guam Education Board with her cry for help.
"In recent years two teachers at my school have been physically assaulted, one teacher received a broken nose and one teacher was knocked out and transported by ambulance to the hospital," explained Vicente Benavente Middle School special education reading resource teacher Cheryle Jenson. She admits working on school grounds is no longer safe for students and staff alike, adding, "These experiences are not unique to my school - this year a male student has adopted the hallway near my classroom as his venting area, where he and his girlfriend argue especially during lunch.
"This young man has a volatile temper and has a history of losing control. The repeated efforts of our counselors, school aides, and administrators have made little impression on the student."
Jenson and colleagues fear for their safety, locking their classroom doors during break times to keep unwanted students out. Recently, Jenson reports a female teacher was terrorized by a male student while alone during lunch. "He came very close to her, towered over her cursed banged his fist on her table," she recalled. "He refused to leave her classroom until she told him she would call GPD if she did not leave her room."
Although the student was suspended, Jenson says administrators were also fearful of calling the cops as it may only upset the student more. "Teachers do not give up their legal rights just because we are teachers. We have a right to a safe working environment so members of the school board if teachers are expected to daily put themselves at risk of being physically assaulted by students because providing security might make them angry," she stated.
As a result, she's looking for more compensation from the department and more security for her fellow staff. "We expect to be paid accordingly. I propose that Guam public school teachers receive hazardous duty pay, mandatory safe crisis management training and an armed school resource officer at every school," she said.
Department of Education deputy superintendent Rob Malay says DOE will launch an internal investigation, as last night was the first they've heard of such activity at the Dededo middle school.