Teacher says violence in the classroom is nearing, "epidemic levels"


On the heels of NEWSTALK 1010's series, Today's Classroom: Under the Microscope, one elementary teacher is telling her story of being attacked by a student.

Julie Austin tells NEWSTALK 1010's The Night Side that teachers are not trained to deal with students who have violent outbursts and that there are no protocols in place to deal with these incidents.

Austin was teaching for the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board but has been off work due to her injury.

She says she was hit in the head with a chair in September 2014 during an incident with a fifth grade student and she still suffers from daily headaches, nausea and dizzy spells. She says she's been denied long term disability and told that she could lose her job for telling her story publicly.

"We are being forced to work in unsafe conditions," Austin says. 

She claims she's never received any training regarding mental health or how to manage violent outbursts by students, "and I've witnessed them more times than I should have...It's almost reaching epidemic levels."

A statement from the school board reads:

"The SMCDSB cannot comment on employees or former employees due to privacy concerns. However, in the case of an illness or injury it would be our general practice to refer it to WSIB and/or our disability management program. WSIB is a third party that would make an independent evaluation on the eligibility of benefits. For disability management, our staff would have access to sick leave, short-term leave and disability plan and possibly long-term disability (LTD). LTD eligibility is also determined by an independent third party." 

The union has declined to comment. Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association Provincial President Ann Hawkins tells NEWSTALK 1010, "The Association does not comment on cases involving members."