MADISON, (WKOW) -- A judiciary committee held Thursday focused on increasing protections for teachers in the classroom. The “Teacher Protection Act” is a bill that modifies certain rights for teachers. Bill sponsor Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt says it comes at a time where districts nationwide are seeing an increase in assaults. However, many critics of the bill say it will do more harm than good.
Nicole Wiegel and her son Caleb have experience first hand how harsh punishments can affect a student down the road. Caleb is on the Autism spectrum. Two years ago, Caleb suffered a meltdown at school and the police were called after teachers were unable to calm him down. The police wound up stepping in, handcuffed Caleb and put him in the back of a squad car.
“I begged some of my teachers to not call the police,” Caleb said. “Please don't, all the times this has happened I’ve learned that I should be afraid of cops.”
Wiegel says after the incident her son was only seen by teachers and staff as a problem child. He was treated differently and eventually changed schools. In total Caleb has attended five schools, two of them were special needs facilities.
“He felt like he had failed, he failed the expectations at school, but I saw that in the teachers too.” Wiegel said.
Under the Teacher Protection Act it would allow teachers to remove a student from the classroom up to two days, use reasonable force if necessary and be able to see police reports about their students if they were arrested.
“Get our districts to understand that you have to deal with these students as these problems occur it's basic 101 of teaching in classroom management,” Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R) said.
According to most recent statistics by the Department of Education Wisconsin recorded having the highest percentage of teachers being attacked or threatened. Rep. Chris Taylor (D) Madison, argued during the committee hearing that once a teacher finds out about a students criminal record, it can put them at a disadvantage. She also says studies show minorities are often targeted more and this bill would only keep them out of the classroom, making it harder to succeed.