CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. – How safe are teachers in schools? It’s a question 11Alive has been asking after a Clayton County teacher was assaulted and slammed to the ground by a student.
The 68-year-old teacher was hospitalized and bruised in the incident, which happened at Mt. Zion High School on Tuesday. A 17-year-old was arrested and charged with simple battery. The teacher's daughter said that the student attacked the teacher when she interrupted a sex act.
Another educator reached out to 11Alive’s Blayne Alexander after seeing the story.
Sherry McCaskill, a speech pathologist at Forest Park High School, said that she had a similar run-in with a student that forced her to quit.
Sherry McCaskill said she quit because she didn’t feel safe.
As she prepared to walk inside for the final time on Friday, McCaskill remembered what
brought her to the school in the first place.
“I chose Clayton County because I thought I could affect more change,” McCaskill said.
After less than four months on the job, McCaskill said she’s had enough.
"For, I'm 5'2'', it is daunting and it's intimidating just to walk down the hall," she said.
Her breaking point came Sept. 29 in an incident she said was eerily similar to the one at Mt. Zion High School.
McCaskill says she was escorting two students to the office after finding them engaged in a sex act and breaking it up. Suddenly, the male student jumped in front of her and blocked her path.
“[He was] saying threatening things to me – ‘Man if you don’t get out of my face, it’s not going to be good,’... all the while he was chest-to-chest with me and I could not get away from him,” McCaskill said.
McCaskill said she shouted for a school resource officer, but because the officer was dealing with another fight down the hall, he couldn't come help.
“I kept yelling…’Please come help me, please come help me,’ so he was torn between that incident and coming to help me,” she said.
Eventually, the officer did come to her aid and the students ran off. But McCaskill said what ultimately drove her out the door is what she calls insufficient discipline. She showed 11Alive her written report along with a copy of the student's discipline referral where he was suspended for 5 days.
When the student came back to school, McCaskill said he was right back in her area -- student services -- where she would see him every day.
Clayton County Schools issued a statement saying:
Regarding the reported incident at Forest Park High School, the school’s administration appropriately followed its protocol in handling the matter at that level. The district is unable to offer further comment concerning allegations that were made at that time. Regarding the question of teacher safety, the district strongly promotes and supports a safe learning and working environment for our students and our employees.