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231 Violent Attacks on L.A. Schoolteachers Reported In 83-84

January 21, 1985

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ City teachers suffered 231 violent attacks during the 1983-843 school year, more than one attack for each day school was in session, according to school district figures.

The attacks during the 176-day school year included rapes, robberies and beatings at the hands of students, intruders and parents, according to the figures.

″It’s obvious that this is an outrageous situation,″ said Wayne Johnson, president of United Teachers of Los Angeles.

The total of all assaults in schools rose after four consecutive years of decline, to 334 in the 1983-84 school year, compared with 320 the year before, the figures showed.

Fifty-nine employees missed four or more weeks of work as a result of violence-related physical injury or psychological trauma, and another 83 stayed out at least a day.

A union poll last spring showed that 60 percent of area teachers do not feel safe at Los Angeles Unified School District campuses, Johnson said.

″That kind of fear factor is going to make you feel stress, make you not want to go to work and affect your emotional and physical environment,″ he said. ″When that happens, it’s got to affect what you do in front of a class.″

″They (teachers) lose their self-esteem in a way that’s hard for a nonteacher to grasp,″ said Harriet Perl, a retired teacher who counsels victims as part of a district program started in 1978.

Teachers are supposed to be in control, and being overpowered by a student or intruder erodes their confidence, she said.

Last year, 12 teachers reported attacks by parents. In one, a mother whose child had failed a class chased his teacher across a San Fernando Valley high school campus, beating him with her purse.

″I try to have an extra friendly attitude with the kids,″ said Miriam Schneider, a high school English teacher who was shot in the stomach during a rape attempt in 1979 and returned to school the following fall.

″You have to keep on their good side. They tell me I’m the best teacher, and I think that helps keep me safe,″ Ms. Schneider said.

The school district has 303 officers on its police force and is seeking to expand.

″We could always use more,″ Police Chief Richard Green said. ″But you can’t have a guard in every corner of every room.″

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