National Education Association Rhode Island (NEARI) President Lawrence Purtill on Wednesday praised Portsmouth High School teacher Risha Pellegrino for her bravery and encouraged districts to review safety policies:

“Our students, faculty and staff deserve a safe place to learn and teach. I am pleased that the Portsmouth administration is reviewing their policies to ensure a safer environment after the teacher assault at Portsmouth High last week.

“The Portsmouth assault is a sober reminder that violence can happen in any community – unfortunately, we have far too many examples nationwide proving that true. This incident does allow an opportunity for all districts across the state to re-examine their policies and explore best practices from across the country in consultation with education and law enforcement professionals. Portsmouth and other Rhode Island districts must keep the review process ongoing and incorporate staff input to be truly effective.

“Most importantly, we are happy the Portsmouth High students are safe and grateful that our member colleague did not sustain serious injuries when her assailant forced his way into the school building. She is to be commended for her heroic efforts in protecting her students from harm.”