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Teachers say district fails to act after students hit them

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  • Report: Teacher says student beat her, video put on MySpace
  • Second teacher says attacks at Baltimore high school not unusual
  • School district administration investigating incident, chief of staff says
  • Union chief meets with principals to develop safety policies
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(CNN) -- Two teachers at a Baltimore, Maryland, high school say they were attacked by students, and one says such assaults are commonplace, according to CNN affiliate WBAL.

"No learning place should be this violent," art teacher Jolita Berry said of the school where she teaches.

The school district says it is investigating and will take appropriate action, but both art teacher Jolita Berry and English teacher Marc Standish say the administration has failed to protect and support them.

"I looked over, and her friends were cheering her on. And before I knew it, she hit me in the face," Berry told WBAL. She showed the station a cell-phone video depicting what she said was a student beating her last Friday.

Individuals in the video are difficult to identify, and no charges have been filed, WBAL reported.

Berry said her principal told her she brought the attack on herself. "On one hand, she told me that she is sorry that this happened to me," Berry told WBAL. "But then she turned right around and told me that telling a student that I was going to defend myself was a trigger word. I triggered them."

Berry called the administrative response frustrating.

"Too many times this has happened at this school and at other schools, and nothing's being done. No learning place should be this violent," she said.

Baltimore City Schools public relations department said it would have no comment beyond a statement issued by Bennie Williams, the district's chief of staff, that says the district has "a fundamental commitment" to keep schools safe.

"We take any disruption of the learning environment extremely seriously and respond immediately and forcefully to any disruption. ... We are currently investigating the specific incident at Reginald F. Lewis High School to determine appropriate action. ... We are treating this incident with the utmost seriousness," the statement said.

But the problem goes beyond one incident, Standish said. He told WBAL that students regularly issue "very visceral threats" against him. "I just had a couple last week, and it's just everyday routine," he said. Standish said he has filed a grievance with the district through the teachers union.

Union President Marietta English met with about 20 principals Wednesday evening to discuss teacher safety. "We really want to implement some policies that principals can follow [so] that teachers won't be having to be afraid to come in their classrooms or come into their schools," she told WBAL. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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