Last December, substitute teacher Arthur Becker of Pittsburgh suffered potentially permanent ear and eye damage when an M-80 exposive tossed by students blew up near his desk, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Becker, 60, is among 179 teachers in Allegheny County schools who were physically assaulted by students last year. It was the highest total in history although the school population has been declining. From 2002 to 2006, there were 621 cases of students assaulting teachers on school campuses.
Many assaults don’t even get reported because teachers refuse to press charges. “It’s completely up to the victim,” said Jim Rieland, director of Allegheny County juvenile probation. “The important thing to me is they do it as an informed decision. If the kid is already under our supervision, we can handle it as a violation of probation.” Pittsburgh Public Schools has three open worker’s compensation claims as a result of teacher assaults in 1997, 2005 and 2006. Those claims have cost taxpayers $386,854 so far. Members of the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers are entitled to 20 extra days of sick leave each year for injuries related to assaults.