New Bedford teachers call meeting

Unionized teachers in New Bedford met in private Friday afternoon to share their concerns about how they believe they are being treated by the school administration.

The union has accused the superintendent, Dr. Pia Durkin, of perpetuating a "climate of fear" in the school district.

"Many of Dr. Durkin's policies do not work," said Louis St. John, president of the teachers' union.

The union presented a list of concerns to the superintendent last year. Those complaints included allegations of micromanagement, contract violations, and multiple suspensions. The union said Durkin responded to the concerns in an email April 1.

"Now all of a sudden people who are veteran teachers who have been teaching for a long time are being told that they don't know anything," St. John said. "Almost 100 percent of the people in that room feel they are not supported by our superintendent and they feel that they're not being treated as professionals."

Teachers also claim Durkin's policies, like trying to reduce student suspensions, have backfired and led to an increase in violence.

Two high school teachers have been assaulted in recent weeks.

In the first, a student threw a chair at a teacher in an incident that was caught on cellphone video. The student was expelled. In the second, a female student is accused of throwing a trash can that hit a teacher in the head.

"I do not like what's going on in our school district. The violence has gotten way out of control," said Carol Strupczewski of New Bedford.

NBC 10 was unable to reach Durkin for comment after hours following the meeting.

St. John said the teachers would continue to meet about the issues.