Teacher speaks out about violence at Peabody Middle School

PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — An 8News investigation has uncovered just how often police are responding to Peabody Middle School in Petersburg.

After a threat forced parents last week to keep their kids home, three teachers reached out to 8News saying violence and out of control students are a weekly occurrence.

Teachers say last week’s rumored threat is what grabbed headlines, but they are more concerned with the other violence and distractions that can sometimes break out in school. One teacher, who asked us to hide her identity, says they’ve witnessed it first hand.

“I’ve witnessed students hit teachers, I’ve witnessed kids having intercourse at school,” they explained.

This teacher says they have lost good employees who did not want to come back after they were injured breaking up a fight while on the job.

“They have been injured trying to break up fights as well as just students putting their hands on them, threatening them, pushing them, just the unthinkable,” the teacher added.

The teacher also said the students are sometimes punished, but the punishment in their opinion is never enough to deter future actions.

“They can curse you out because they know that they are not going to go home, they can tell you that they are not going to do after school detention because their parents won’t make them.”

8News did some digging and found out that this school year alone, the Petersburg Police Department has written 34 police reports at Peabody, including 12 reports of assault, three more for disorderly conduct, two drug reports, a pornography report, as well as three weapons violations.

The school system says there are fights at all schools, and stresses when that happens they investigate and issue disciplinary actions.

“Safety for our students and teachers and all of our employees is a priority and we have lots of strategies in place to keep people safe at our schools,” said Leigh Ann McKelway with Petersburg Schools. “Anytime somebody feels unsafe we would hope they would talk to their building leader.”

McKelway says there is a system in place where teachers can speak out anonymously if they feel something needs to change.

She also says part of the reason they are shutting down Peabody and moving all the students to Vernon Johns Middle School next year is that building is better suited for students and helps keep the different grades separated. It will also mean students spend less time in the hallways where those fights do tend to break out.

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