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Kent teachers say elementary school students are sending them to the hospital with injuries

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KENT -- Kent teachers frustrated with growing violence inside their classrooms will fight for changes at a school board meeting Wednesday night.

A mom to an 11-year-old Susan Johnson is in disbelief that another Kent student her daughter’s age bruised, bit and cut a teacher.

“It should not be tolerated” Johnson said.

Kent teachers say more and more elementary school kids are getting violent with them in the classrooms. And the problem is not just with special needs kids.

“They are very sensitive to authority, these kids have very rough family lives” teacher Dave Bohn said.

“Teachers have had concussions and contusions,” Kent Education Association President Christie Padilla said.

Teachers say the disruptive child is often immediately put back in the classrooms without getting the proper discipline and help.

“That is counterproductive to learning, its counterproductive to safety,” Bohn said.

And parents are worried about the long-term effects to other students forced to witness the assaults.

“It can affect these kids mentally and emotionally,” Johnson said.

KEA says they need the district to hire more support staff, especially behavioral interventionist.

“A behavioral interventionist could work with a student one on one,” Padilla said.

“We are listening to our teachers and negotiations process what it is specifically they want to be changed,” Kent Schools spokesperson Chris Loftis said.

The two sides are in the middle of contract talks and the district says they are brainstorming ideas. But the teacher’s union says they have seen no progress so they will push the issue harder starting at Wednesday’s school board meeting.

“Teachers are being taken to the hospital; we have medical records,” Padilla said.

The district’s record for 2015-2016 show students injuring six school employees.

Four of the six were teachers. The number only captured the incidents deemed a “chargeable offense.” In 2014 to 2015, 3 employees were injured and the year before that there were 5 reported injuries to police.

The district says they take each and every report of assault, abusive or bullying behavior very seriously. The district has 1,750 teachers and 28,000 students. The district says while they take every assault seriously they are not seeing “wholesale increases” in assaultive behaviors in classrooms.

In contrast, the union says a recent survey of 477 teachers shows 30% reporting they were physically assaulted by a student in some way.