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'Akron Public Schools are not safe': Teachers sound alarm after another student is stabbed

The union president says teachers are afraid to go to work, and that a majority of students feel the same way with fights breaking out constantly.

AKRON, Ohio — A 17-year-old student was stabbed at Buchtel Community Learning Center in Akron Wednesday afternoon.

Police say the incident started as a fight between three students, with one being stabbed and the other two taking off. The victim was taken to the hospital and is expected to make a full recovery.

However, this is the second time this month a student has been stabbed at an Akron Public School, following a similar incident at Firestone CLC on Nov. 4. Employees are taking notice, but they don't feel like they're being heard.

"We are waving red flags like we've never before waved them," Akron Education Association President Pat Shipe told 3News. "We are not being listened to; we are being dismissed, we are being disrespected."

Shipe says teachers are afraid to go to work, and that a majority of students feel the same way with fights breaking out constantly. There were two such physical altercations at Ellet CLC on Tuesday, with educators saying 14 police cruisers were called. Authorities tell WKYC charges in that incident are pending.

"We have a staff member physically assaulted on average of once a day in this district," Shipe added. "That's outrageous. This community deserves more."

AEA attorney Don Malarcik's wife has been a teacher within APS for more than 20 years. The union says school safety should be a top priority, and is calling on administrators to do more.

"Every time I get a text about an incident at Akron Public Schools, my heart drops," Malarick said. "This is no way to live; this is unsustainable. It's not fair, it's not right, and it has to stop."

Last week, 99% of association members voted against a fact-finder's recommendations for a new labor contract with the board of education. Both sides are currently in negotiations with a federal mediator, but even so, teachers claim they have been raising these concerns for years.

"It's not a learning environment; it's an environment of fear," Malarcik said. "When a fight breaks out and students are welcomed back into the school and repeat offends continue to offend, what kind of message does that send to the kids who want to learn, to the kids who have to see this violence and know that there are no consequences?"

And while they're thankful the injuries haven't been more serious, they hope it doesn't take a more tragic incident for something to finally change."

"We are blessed that something enormously tragic hasn't happened already," Shipe said. "That is a concern of ours every day."

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