Dear Bored Teachers, Help! A student threatened to hurt me, and I don’t know what to do anymore. I reported it to my principal, who told me to just let it go. I’m terrified to go to work. Some friends told me to just quit and change schools, but it’s not that easy, and I can’t afford to go a day without a job.

Signed, Scared to Teach

Dear Scared to Teach,

First off, you are not alone here. There are, unfortunately, many teachers experiencing the same issues at higher numbers than ever before, and it is a terrible, anxiety-producing, and traumatic experience for all involved.

Second, ummm, “just let it go?” It sounds like someone is living in a Disney movie that has nothing but happy endings. The only thing that needs to be let go of is the toxic positivity slash gaslighting that your principal is exhibiting here. I am sorry you are working for someone extremely unsupportive and out of touch.

From the tone of your email, this is a student that you fear may actually hurt you, not a student having one bad day. Teachers have spidey sense and know the difference. Please know that our teacher hearts are with you as you tackle this difficult situation. Here are my best suggestions to get you started.

1. Remove the student from your classroom.

Teachers in many states have rights that they may not know about, and we have to start using those rights and not be scared of what other people will think of us if we do.

Chapter 37 of the Texas Education Code gives the teacher power to remove a student from their classroom if they are threatening or creating an unsafe environment.

Ask your principal to remove this student from your classroom STAT, or talk to your union to determine if your district affords you any protections under their rules and regulations.

2. Document everything!

Does the student have a BIP (Behavior Improvement Plan) in place? If so, it may need to be reconvened. I am sure you have already been documenting behaviors, but continue to write everything down to get this student into a proper placement. This could be a behavior school, a self-contained classroom, or an in-house suspension. If this student is scaring you, they are also scaring the other students, which is traumatizing for everyone involved. Let me reiterate: School should be a safe place for everyone.

Make sure you have the parents/guardians involved and that they know the seriousness of this behavior and that you will go to the police.

3. Get other teachers involved.

Lean on your fellow teachers. It is essential to have another teacher available if you can’t de-escalate this student’s behavior. You should have access to a radio or a communication device to get someone to your room immediately. Other teachers will understand your predicament more than your administrator and will provide you with support.

4. Yes, call the police.

Your administrator is not taking this seriously, so maybe the police will. The student has threatened to hurt you, and threats to physically harm a person and cause bodily harm are illegal. This may get the attention of your student’s parents and the administrator. If your environment is not safe for you and other students, this is not okay and should not be tolerated.

5. Listen to your friends, and leave.

I know it is not that easy, but if you can take days off this year, then do so. Plan now to leave this school the following year. This principal is not supporting you and is not someone you want to work for. Ask around to find a school with an administrator that has your back. They are out there, and you cannot sacrifice your mental health for a job that does not care about you or its students.

Help! A Student Threatened to Hurt Me!