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Columbia teachers’ union protests over school safety Monday night


The Columbia teachers' union protested over school safety during Monday night's school board meeting.

Members of the union claim that fights involving students has become a growing concern, nothing that some students don't attend school because of it. Columbia Missouri National Education Association's President Noelle Gilzow spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting, stating fighting has becomes the biggest area of concern.

"Students run the school and adults allow it," Gilzow said. "They haven't received training information once per semester, they haven't received training on dealing with student conflict."

Gilzow noted that a recent survey conducted found that within the last two years, 70% of union members reported being verbally assaulted. 31% reported being hit or kicked, and 11% said they had been scratched or bitten, according to Gilzow.

Gilzow also said part of the issue is that when teachers request help from a trained administrator to de-escalate a situation, one either didn't show up or took more than 20 minutes to arrive. CMNEA Vice President Alexander Tai said that even if you are not directly affected by the issue, the matter at hand is still concerning.

"Teachers' conditions in schools are actually students learning environments, and so if it's not a safe environment, it's not going to be a safe environment for your students either," Tai said.

Hickman Student Karli Jones showed her support during the protest, noting that the needs of students are just as important as students.

"Teachers and educators need to be listened to more and their opinions need to be valued just as much as ours," Jones said.

The protest comes after a recent shooting at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas that left three people dead. On Friday, the union announced their plans to protest what they called "district inaction on school safety."

Announcement of the protest came on the same day that Columbia Public Schools Superintendent Brian Yearwood sent an email to parents outlining safety measures implemented by the district. The email included the district having regular drills, security cameras and buzz-in systems. It also included the district's wish to ban weapons in vehicles on campus.

CPS is testing a touchless weapons-detection system at Hickman High School through Dec. 21.

Yearwood told ABC 17 News that the voices of teachers don't go unheard by the district.

"We will ensure that individuals are heard and that we take all necessary steps to remedy you know, situations because it's a partnership," Yearwood said.

Article Topic Follows: Columbia Public Schools

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Nia Hinson


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