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Rolling Hills Elementary teachers show evidence of classroom violence

Four Rolling Hills Elementary teachers are showing evidence of violence inside their classrooms to WAAY 31.

Posted: Nov 7, 2017 12:56 PM
Updated: Nov 7, 2017 1:07 PM

(Note: This story originally aired in December 2016.)
These teachers contacted our I-Team after Huntsville City Schools Interim Superintendent Tom Drake, called WAAY 31's previous reports of teachers claiming students were assaulting them "fake news."

"It is really a slap in the face to say that this was fake news," one teacher claims. "It's a dangerous place to go to work."

One teacher gave us pictures of injuries suffered after she claimed a student threw a chair at her. The injury sent her to an emergency clinic.

"I don't feel like it is a part of my job to be assaulted everyday," the teacher said.

Other teachers showed us photos of cuts to their hands, even a bullet one teacher claims she found outside her classroom door.
"They find knives, they find bullets," another teacher said. "These kids might be coming to school armed and ready to go. I'm scared. I'm scared for our children."

WAAY 31 repeatedly asked to speak with the principal of Rolling Hills. The school district never responded, so we took the photos to Huntsville City School Board President Elisa Ferrell.

"It is bruises on a foot, I see bruises on an arm. That might be a bug bite, I'm not sure what that is," Ferrell said while looking at the photos. "If this is happening in the classroom, then they should be more actively engaging in getting the district's attention."
These teachers said they have tried to get the district's help. They believe after being ignored, the school system also belittled their claims.

"I don't know if you have seen elementary kids or not, but they are the cutest little things there ever was. They will come up and hug your leg, but might also kick you in the shin," interim superintendent Tom Drake, said at a school board meeting in December, while referencing WAAY 31's stories. In the same meeting, Drake claimed the incidents were largely accidents and not assaults.

"These are not accidents when a child comes up to you and hits you as hard as they can. It's not an accident when a child throws a chair at you," a teacher said.

Ferrell's only recommendation after seeing the injury was to document any attacks by students. However, this teacher who showed WAAY 31 her medical records, and pictures of her injury did file an on-the-job injury report. We wanted to know more, so we requested every injury report over the last two years at Rolling Hills.

Our I-Team uncovered 14 different reports of students injuring teachers. Four of the reports indicated that the teacher sought medical attention.

One report claims a student hit the teacher in the ear with a phone receiver, causing headaches and vomiting. Another report shows a student flipped a desk, landing on the teacher's feet. You can view those reports here:

"I don't understand how these are accidents. They mean to hurt you," another teacher expressed.

Huntsville City Schools is under a federal desegregation order by the U.S. Department of Justice. It says the district punishes minority students unfairly compared to white children and listed a series of corrections. These teachers believe the school system is turning a blind eye to their complaints because of the DOJ order.

"I think we have an administration whose hands are tied," one teacher said.

Since our first story on Rolling Hills aired, the district hired a behavioral interventionist, but these teachers don't believe it is enough.
"Nobody understands how bad it is. Witness it firsthand and you will see how much assistance we need," a teacher said.

WAAY 31 dug through the Huntsville City Schools Human Resources reports and found since May 2014, 28 teachers have quit at Rolling Hills. Since our sitdown interviews, two of the teachers we spoke with also quit in fear of their safety.

"I have so many kids that come up to me and say.. 'I'm so scared to come here. I don't want to be at this place anymore,'" a teacher said.

Two of the teachers WAAY 31 interviewed tell us a DOJ representative contacted them by phone to learn more about the disciplinary problems at the school.

The DOJ declined to comment on their conversations with the teachers, and school board president Elisa Ferrell said she was unaware of any investigation by the DOJ into the elementary school.

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