2 Jackson teachers sue, claiming district allows violent students to run wild
Two teachers are suing Jackson Public Schools, claiming the district is violating their rights by failing to protect them from out-of-control students. According to a federal lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan Joanna Perkin and Amy Gish have worked for Jackson Public Schools since 1999 and were assigned to the Fourth Street Learning Center in 2017. Perkin has been on medical leave since September of 2018. Gish went on medical leave last June.
The plaintiffs say they are trained in techniques to calm or "reset" violent and uncontrollable students. But they claim those techniques were useless because the district allowed students at the Fourth Street Learning Center to act out with no "accountability or consequence." They lawsuit lists the following examples of student behavior that created what they call a hostile and unsafe work environment:
- Breaking windows and threatening staff with shards of glass
- Throwing chairs
- Punching and throwing computer terminals
- Taunting the teachers and letting them know the students would not be punished for their behavior
- Referring to the teachers with obscene and derogatory words
- Bringing air guns to school
- Putting their hands on the teachers
- Refusing to leave the classroom when told to do so
- "A riot" in the cafeteria
- Bullying teachers and students
- Sexually assaulting students
According to the lawsuit the teachers made repeated written and verbal requests for the district to do something about the students' conduct including permanently removing them from the classroom. They also claim they repeatedly asked for increased security to protect them and the other students. They say Jackson Public Schools either ignored them or made "empty promises that were not fulfilled."
The plaintiffs are asking the court to award them real and punitive damages. Perkin is also suing the district, claiming it violated her rights by harassing and threatening her when she filed to take time off under the Family Medical Leave Act.
News 10 and wilx.com asked Jackson Public Schools about the lawsuit. Communications Director Kriss Giannetti told wilx.com the district has received the complaint and that, "It the policy of Jackson Public Schools not to comment on ongoing legal actions."
News 10 and wilx.com will continue to keep you updated on this story.