Mark Terence Osborne
At least 45 teachers in Pennsylvania resign citing unprecedented classroom violence and misbehaviour - Representational Image Reuters

At least 45 teachers in Harrisburg district in the US state of Pennsylvania have resigned between July and October this year, alleging physical violence against them in classrooms. The local teachers' association has pleaded to the district administration to help and support them deal with what they termed as unprecedented misbehaviour by schoolchildren.

However, the Harrisburg School District claimed not all cases of teacher resignation were related to classroom violence incidents.

The Harrisburg Education Association said that the complaints came from three to four schools, but did not reveal the names. Jody Barksdale, the association's president said that more resignations followed since the incident became public.

"Teachers and students are being hit, kicked, slapped, scratched, cussed at.... and observing other students flip over tables, desks and chairs," Barksdale told The Patriot News, adding that the incidents have affected smooth functioning of classes.

"Teachers have had to take the rest of their class into the hallway to protect them during these outbursts."

Barksdale added that their association wants a task force built that will include teachers, administrators and parents to help students displaying violent behaviours.

Amanda Sheaffer, a first-grade teacher, said that she has been hit and kicked by her students. "I have been kicked, hit, scratched. I've had a student physically restraining me in front of my other students," she reportedly said narrating her ordeal.

"Many of the personal things that I have brought for my classroom have been broken or destroyed. Many minutes are spent each day dealing with violence that is happening in the classroom.

"How am I meeting my students' needs with this behaviour happening? How am I supposed to have a safe, nurturing learning environment when this behaviour happens?" Sheaffer reportedly questioned a school board meeting, according to Oklahoma News website.

Responding to the claims by the teachers' association, the Harrisburg School District said in a statement that they now have 38 positions vacant, but for multiple reasons, including retirement. The district also condemned the association for making the matter public.

"In response to the Harrisburg School District's Collective Bargaining Group, and earlier statements made to the media concerning issues facing our District, we find it unfortunate that our teacher organisation has chosen to engage in public discourse opposed to factual and substantive discussions.

"The District is committed to promoting a safe and healthy work and learning environment for our faculty, staff and students. As we all can agree, student achievement is our primary mission," the statement read.

The school district leaders said that they will work along with teachers to get to a solution to the behavioral problems in the schools, noting that schools today were "fraught with challenges, opportunities and experiences".

Superintendent Sybil Knight-Burney suggested resolving the issue of classroom violence would require parents' support. "Once we meet and find out that there are needs that we need to have serviced, that means it's going to take parent involvement to make that happen."