The fatal stabbing of a private-school principal last week shined an intense light on the potential danger in Memphis-area classrooms once seen as safe havens, reports the Memphis Commercial Appeal. While the death of Memphis Junior Academy’s Suzette York, 49, represents a tiny statistical outlier, an investigation by the Commercial Appeal found numerous instances in which teachers and administrators have been hurt in confrontations with students.
More than 230 students were arrested for assaulting teachers, administrators or other school authority figures in public and private schools throughout Shelby County from Jan. 1, 2009, to May 27, 2011. Those incidents reflect everything from teachers being punched or tackled to receiving death threats. Until last week, none of the student attacks had resulted in a teacher death. But there have been plenty of frightening moments. A student at one high school tried to wrestle a gun away from a security officer. Another choked a teacher who had taken away his MP3 player. A middle school student kicked a teacher so hard she left a footprint.