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View Diary: A Reflection on Mental Illness from a Former High School Teacher (140 comments)

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  •  One-in-Sixty (19+ / 0-)

    I'm a retired community college instructor (digital media: video audio, graphics, Web stuff) and was chairman of my media production program. During my first year of cc teaching  in 1989 (Seattle) I had a student who, at first, seemed nice enough. He played classical guitar and participated in class.

    As the semester progressed, however, he became more hostile in class to both me and to other students. In a different class, not mine, he happened so open his gym bag and said to another student, "Look what I've got." It was two handguns. The other student immediately reported it to me and I immediately reported it to campus security and the administration. Confronted by campus security he showed a legal carry permit but also said he had stopped taking his lithium meds. What??

    This was ten years before Columbine. The administration refused to do anything about for fear of a lawsuit even though his behavior got worse by the day to the point he was disruptive in class, yelling and accusing other students of cheating and coming into my office an screaming obscenities at me. Still the college did nothing. Campus security responded by requiring him to check in his guns when he came onto campus and pick them up when he left. Oh, and "Call us if you need us." Cold comfort. Only when he yelled obscenities at my secretary, two full years after it was discovered he had guns, was he expelled. I kept one eye over my shoulder for several years thereafter. He wasn't allowed to drive (though he was allowed to have guns...go figure) so if he did take me out it would be a long bus trip, with two transfers, to get back home to West Seattle. Again, cold comfort.

    Once he was gone I requested that the college have an in-service on how to deal with disruptive students (with or without guns). The presenter, a trained behaviorial psychologist, said that about one-in-sixty students has moderate to severe psychological issues that and lead to classroom disruption or violence.

    One in sixty. That meant that there were two students in 75 or so students I say each day who were capable of, at least, disruption. Perhaps worse.

    I retired in 2006 and while I miss my students and my teaching, I don't miss the environment. In my suite of offices, classrooms and labs there was nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. I'm glad Im gone.

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