Student-Teacher School Fight Video: NC Lawmakers Propose Bill to Make Classroom Violence a Felony

by Xara Aziz

After a video of a student and substitute teacher fighting inside a classroom at a North Carolina school surfaced online, lawmakers are proposing a new bill that would enforce strict penalties for students who attack school workers.

On Monday, the video showed the student and teacher arguing over a cell phone at Rocky Mount High School. The verbal altercation escalated to a physical exchange, resulting in both parties hitting each other until they both wrestled each other to the ground. They have both been charged with assault.

In a statement released Tuesday, the North Carolina Association of Educators told ABC11 it wants new legislation on the matter to consider the causes of the recent classroom conflicts throughout the state.

 “NCAE believes all students and educators should be safe from violence at school and urge the state legislature to address the conditions that lead to unsafe environments,” said NCAE President Tamika Walker Kelly. “Classifying assault on a school employee or volunteer as a felony with a potential prison sentence of up to 59 months could bring serious unintended consequences, particularly if it is disproportionately applied to students of color.”

If passed, the legislation, HB534, would classify certain assaults as felonies for repeat offenders. It is currently going through the legislature.

In the 2021-2022 school year, there was a 23.5% rise in violence and crime in North Carolina’s high schools, according to statistics from the State Department of Public Instruction. Some believe it has resulted in many employees quitting their roles in the school system, which has left many vacancies unable to be filled.

Furthermore, a new state report found that school crime and violence rose across the state during the past school year, and “the total number of reported incidents rose from 9,554 in 2018-19, the last full year before pandemic closures sent students home, to 11,170 last year. That’s a 16.9% increase,” according to WUNC.

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