St. Paul Public Schools survey shows 79% of high school staff have witnessed, experienced violence

Community hears results of St. Paul Public Schools safety survey

Community hears results of St. Paul Public Schools safety survey

We’re getting a first look Tuesday at the results of a first-of-its-kind safety survey from St. Paul Public Schools.

Survey results show more than half of K-12 staff in the district feel ‘unsafe’ or ‘very unsafe’ at school.

In the district’s high schools, nearly 80% of staff have witnessed or experienced physical violence.

St. Paul Public Schools’ Superintendent Joe Gothard reacted to the results, “You know, we have a large and committed workforce. And anytime I get feedback, where they feel unsafe, I have to act, I have a duty to act on that.”

“I don’t know that I’m surprised,” he added.

Preliminary data in the district shows that at least two students were arrested this year for bringing guns to school.

By early April, 22 students brought some other type of dangerous weapon between just Como, Washington and Harding High Schools.

In February, 15-year-old Devin Scott was stabbed to death at Harding High School.

Also at Harding, security video from last school year shows a student robbing another at gunpoint in the bathroom.

“I can’t imagine anyone isn’t concerned about the safety of young people right now,” Gothard said.

But some of the students are saying they feel safe at school.

“Yeah, I feel safe. When I come here, I feel like there are people I can rely on,” Beautiful Thao, a senior at Johnson High School, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.

And the survey reflects that, with 84% of students saying they feel safe at school.

In reverse, the numbers show the adults fear for their students’ safety.

But a vast majority (69%) of high school staff don’t think students are safe at school.

“We’re in some really difficult times right now,” Gothard said. “Whether it’s gun violence, whether it’s just some of the physical violence that’s social media driven, some of the gang activity that is very localized, but also a trend across the country. And it’s concerning.”

The survey also shows that when staff witness fights or other violent behavior, they feel “helpless” to do anything about it.

“That is really important feedback for us to review,” Gothard said. “And for us to look at ways so that staff doesn’t have to feel like that. So that they either have tools, or we have support in place.”

As a fix, the feedback reveals more mental health support staff and ‘consistent consequences’ for violent behavior come most highly recommended. District administrators called for bringing resource officers back into the schools.

Gothard says nothing is off the table as the district presents this data for the first time Tuesday night.

As for when some of these changes might take place, he wouldn’t give a timeline, but it’s at least next school year.