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Detroit Teacher Says State-Managed Schools Are Unsafe

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DETROIT (WWJ) – A Detroit teacher gives the state-run Education Achievement Authority a failing grade when it comes to student safety.

“The EAA has been so poorly managed from day one,” said Jenna Slack, who teaches at Law Middle School, “that they not only don’t have the resources to educate these children, they don’t have the resources to keep them safe.”

The comments come after a teacher at another EAA school was caught on cell phone video trying to break up a student fight by using a broom. The EAA of Michigan issued a statement saying it has recommended the teacher’s termination.

In the video, two Pershing High School students are seen fighting, knocking over desks. After about a minute the teacher intervenes, appearing to strike one of the teen boys on the back with a broom several times.  The student backs off, but the other student runs back towards him and the fight continues.  The fight ends when another student breaks it up.

Slack told WWJ Newsradio 950’s Marie Osborne that kids come to class angry, and such fights are frequent in Detroit’s EAA schools.

While teachers have been promised new security measures she says nothing has materialized; and, in her building, teachers are not even issued walkie talkies.

“I’m expected to use my own personal cell phone to call parents, to call the office, to call for security,” Slack said. “If I did not bring my personal cell phone into my classroom every day, I have no means of communication with the outside world.”

While Slack said the teacher in the video should not have used the broom, she understands her colleague’s desperation.

She said with 39 to 43 kids packed into a classroom, such fights are dangerous to both teachers and students.

“Even if kids weren’t involved, they would be getting hurt,” she said. “Even if a teacher was in the room, students would be getting hurt, teachers would be getting hurt. It’s unsafe.”

“[The Pershing Teacher] getting fired was probably the least of all horrible outcomes from that situation,” Slack added.

What would she do if a brawl broke out in her classroom?

“If two of my eight grade boys go at it…I have some big kids, some strong kids,” Slack said. “There’s nothing I could do physically to stop them.”

The EAA said, in a statement, that it “seeks to promote a safe environment for its students and staff, and accordingly, does not, and will not tolerate any inappropriate conduct.”

The Education Achievement Authority of Michigan is a fairly new statewide school system that has assumed operation of the lowest 5 percent of performing schools in the state that did not achieve satisfactory results on a redesign plan or that are under an emergency manager.

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