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Philadelphia Teacher Hospitalized After Altercation With 8th Grader

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By Mike DeNardo and Jericka Duncan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Mount Airy middle school teacher was taken to the hospital after he was assaulted by a student.

It happened in a classroom at the Leeds Middle School just before 9 a.m. Monday.

School district spokesman Fernando Gallard says eighth-grade science teacher Lawrence Williams got into an argument with a student, and the student attacked the teacher.

The teacher suffered a swollen eye, lip, and other head injuries. He was taken to a local hospital, in stable condition, and later released.

Benson Williams knows the victim.

“He is very personable. He seems to be the type of person that doesn’t cause any problems, or anything of that nature to children.”

Furman Pace took his seventh grade daughter and got permission to take a neighbor’s child out of school on Monday when he learned of the attack.

“It’s uncalled for, it really is. The violence in the school system is ridiculous,” he said.

The president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, Jerry Jordan, released a statement following the incident:

“There is absolutely no place for violence in our schools. It is unacceptable under any circumstances for a student to lay a hand on anyone, but especially a teacher or school employee. Schools must be safe for students and staff.

“With the elimination of support staff – classroom assistants, non-teaching assistants, nurses, counselors and school police – the district has reduced the adult-to-student ratio and the ability for remaining staff to control school climate adequately. The district is moving in the wrong direction when it comes to school safety.

“Schools are safe because of the steps we take proactively – because we have appropriate staffing levels in schools, we use proven anti-violence and anti-bullying programs, we provide training so that staff can work effectively with disruptive children and because we offer appropriate alternative placements for disruptive or violent children.

“Continued cuts to the staff assigned to schools to make them more safe shows me that the district hasn’t learned the lessons it should have learned five years ago this month, when a Germantown High School teacher’s career was ended by a brutal student assault. Teachers and staff have to know that support personnel is available when they need it.”

Right now there are two school police officers in the building. According to Gallard, the recent layoff of 91 per diem school officers had no impact on Leeds Middle School. He says police were called to the school immediately and the student was arrested. The student faces felony assault charges, according to authorities.

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