- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 20, 2016

EASTON, Pa. (AP) - An eastern Pennsylvania prosecutor seeking the Democratic nomination for attorney general says teachers who use “reasonable force” to break up brawls in their schools won’t be prosecuted.

Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli told reporters Wednesday that teachers too often feel powerless given the threat of lawsuits or the loss of their livelihood. But, he said, the law gives teachers an “absolute right” to use reasonable force against a threatening student and no criminal charges will be filed in such cases, he said.

“When they see a student being pummeled to the ground, they don’t have to wait for the police to arrive,” he said.

Morganelli said he wants stiffer penalties for juveniles who assault others in schools. He also wants to see changes in federal special education law, which he said gives an overly broad number of students protection from disciplinary proceedings.

“When you talk to these teachers, they’re afraid of their students. They’re afraid to go to school. They’re afraid to teach,” Morganelli said. “We need to be on their side, not the side of the disruptive students.”

He also urged school boards and administrators to stand by teachers when a lawsuit is filed on behalf of a student.

Morganelli’s remarks came days before the primary election and days after The (Allentown) Morning Call ran a story on violence in the Allentown School District in neighboring Lehigh County.

Superintendent Joseph Roy of the Bethlehem Area School District, the largest district in Northampton County, told the paper that there was “nothing new” in Morganelli’s remarks.

“That’s always been the case,” Roy said, adding that while teachers are concerned about possible lawsuits by students, the law offers broad protections for them.

Roy also said Bethlehem schools hadn’t seen an increase in violence or fighting this year that he is aware of, and he hadn’t talked with the district attorney about the sub

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