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Cheltenham teachers say administrators ignored pleas for help with unruly students

May 6, 2017 – Philadelphia Inquirer  – by Kathy Boccella

Loitering bands of aggressive, cursing students own the halls, constantly fighting or kicking each other. They slam teachers into lockers or walls. They barge in uninvited to disrupt classes. They tell adults who dare confront them to “get the [expletive] out of my face!”

Those descriptions of life at Cheltenham High School come from faculty members who have been  warning administrators about an out-of-control climate of violence and disrespect that left them feeling unsafe, if not terrified, long before a student brawl on Wednesday injured seven teachers and three security officers.

“Students jostle each other, scream aggressively, and always seem to be on the verge of a fight,” one staffer wrote anonymously in a school-climate survey that the teachers’ union, the Cheltenham Educators’ Association, delivered to high school and district administrators in February. “If teachers try to discipline them for this behavior, some students will verbally assault teachers, saying things like, ‘What are you going to do about it? You can’t do anything.’ ”

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