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Physically Aggressive Students

Regular Education Students:

SECTION 16-3-612 of South Carolina's Criminal Code states the following:  Student committing assault and battery against school personnel; definitions. 

(B) A student who commits an assault and battery, other than one that is aggravated, on school grounds or at a school-sponsored event against any person affiliated with the school in an official capacity including, but not limited to, administrators, teachers, faculty, substitute teachers, teachers' assistants, student teachers, custodial staff, food service staff, volunteers, law enforcement officers, school bus drivers, school crossing guards, or other regularly assigned school-contracted persons is guilty of assault and battery against school personnel which is a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than one thousand dollars, or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

Special Education Students:

Too often, school staff, especially those who work with “special children” are led to believe that being hit, bitten, kicked, pushed, or choked are “part of the job”. Nothing could be further from the truth and those views often get in the way of solutions.

Under no circumstances should any school employee be assaulted by a student nor should school districts accept this violence. Assaulting a teacher is a crime in South Carolina and must be treated seriously. When injuries break the skin, a teacher is at risk of disease and infection. Physical injuries can cause permanent damage to a teacher’s back, neck, etc., and loss of income from missed time at work. Injuries can also cause emotional harm. School staff who are subjected to constant battery and/or injury OR the fear of injury are vulnerable to post traumatic stress disorder and depression. In addition, they can become victims of the “battered person” syndrome, where it becomes “normal” to suffer frequent injury.

The Special Education Laws were never intended to allow this kind of situation to exist, in order to provide education services to a child. The following issues often arise when staff work with special education students whose violent behavior is uncontrolled:

  • whether the student can be removed from the regular or special education classroom
  • whether the district can suspend or expel the student
  • whether the teacher should call the police or press charges against a student
  • whether the teacher will be liable for injury inflicted on other children by the special education student
  • what recourse the teacher has if injured by a student, and
  • whether a teacher or staff member who was injured can be required to continue working with the student
This article will not attempt to address those situations, because there are so many variables, but here are suggestions to consider:
  • School faculty and staff who serve this student should stand united as a group. Explore all options and solutions and meet with administration.
  • The education team should maximize the use of the IEP to address behavior problems.
  • A one-on-one Aide and Homebound may be an option. If the student has been removed for the 10-day and 45-day periods, as required by law, and is still violent, the district can arrange an expedited administrative hearing before a state hearing officer to remove the student to an “interim alternate educational setting”.
  • School staff can file an employee grievance and assault charges. It is a misdemeanor in SC for a student to assault a school employee, regardless of disability. Filing assault charges is a constitutional right.

Federal resource related to filing charges - Click here and page down to Question B-1. The wording "extreme physical pain" may apply to some assault situations.


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