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BPS responds to student verbal abuse problem

On Thursday, after weeks of trying, we're finally hearing from the district superintendent, Dr. Kriner Cash about the problem.

BUFFALO, NY - We have an update to a story we first told you about Wednesday night — a widespread problem in Buffalo Public Schools of students verbally abusing teachers.

High numbers of teachers say the problem is occurring in their classrooms.

And on Thursday, after weeks of trying, we're finally hearing from the district superintendent, Dr. Kriner Cash about the problem.

In school, after school, after school teachers say they're often verbally abused by students.

"The number one concern of our teachers that I hear is the disruptive behavior of students," said Phil Rumore, the president of the Buffalo Teachers Federation.

For example, at Bennett Montesori School, 84 percent of teachers agreed students verbally abuse teachers often. At Burgard High, that numbers was at 93 percent. And at North Park Academy 100 percent of teachers agreed.

The data is in what are called "school climate reports" – surveys that students, teachers and staff filled out in the fall at every Buffalo Public school about issues going on. For weeks, 2 On Your Side has been requesting an interview with the district about the results. On Thursday, we finally sat down with the district superintendent.

"When you say 100 percent, 90 percent of the teachers at certain places that would be concerning to me," Cash said.

REPORTER: What is the district doing about the issue with students verbally abusive to teachers?

"We have these after school programs, when we have summer school programs and Saturday school programs through our community schools, working on the psycho, social and emotional development of our students," Cash said, "we're also providing mentors for students we're providing training for teachers in terms of trauma informed care."

REPORTER: One may wonder whether that's enough, whether the issue continues to grow or simmer, or you're just not addressing the issues as we have seen year after year issues get kicked down the road?

"We don't do that under my administration," Cash said, "what you can't do is suspend your way out of this, continue to chip way at the real root cause."

REPORTER: Is there something that needs to be done maybe more district-wide in terms of an entire district meeting, a meeting of the minds, every single agency involved?

"In these schools, that you're talking about I'm ready tomorrow to convene a meeting to get at the root cause at what might be precipitating and contributing to this kind of environment," Cash said.

Dr. Cash says that by the end of the school year, he will reach out to the Buffalo Teachers Federation and the District Parent Coordinating Council to convene that town hall, to address this issue of student verbal abuse and verbal abuse by teachers. He reminds parents that they also need to be involved and make sure their kids are respectful to teachers and staff.