Teacher and student charged in altercation over cell phone

A Rocky Mount High School substitute teacher and student have been charged related to an altercation over a cell phone that was caught on video.


Xaviera Steele

The substitute teacher, Xaviera Spencer Steele a.k.a Danielle Steele, was charged with simple assault.

The student involved was not named due to being a minor but faces the same charge via a juvenile petition.

Steele gave a written promise to appear in court and had been released.

The charges stem from a fight between Steele and a student over the confiscation of the student’s cell phone.

The incident was caught on video and shows the student aggressively trying to regain her phone and hitting Steele. The situation rapidly devolved with both of them hitting each other repeatedly and landing on the floor. Steele is seen pinning the female student down and calling for someone to go get another teacher.

No injuries were reported as a result of the altercation. The fight occurred on the morning of April 17.

Nash-Rocky Mount County Public School System indicated Steele had been employed with the district for almost a year. There is no teaching license on file with the state for Steele.

Steele spoke out in a video posted on her husband’s Facebook page.

“Never in my 22 years have I experienced what I experienced this past Monday. Never have I been attacked by young folks,” Steele said. “I love young people. This is why I work with them. I have a heart for them.”

“That young lady attacked me, and she went for blood,” said Steele, who went on to add the girl had ripped out Steele’s hair from the middle of her forehead all the way back behind one ear.

“I don’t understand what it is with Black-on-Black crime… Black women hating on each other,” said Steele. “I never did that.”

Later in the video, Steele says she’s done with teaching and will be “saying goodbye to this profession.”

Watch the full clip below:


Assault on school staff on the rise

Assaults on teachers by students as well as disrespectful behavior have been on the rise in the years following the pandemic.

Last month, two students at Turning Point Academy located in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg district were charged with the alleged assault of a teacher.

In September 2022, a 15-year-old was charged with assaulting and injuring a teacher at Green Hope High School in Wake County. A video of the assault was posted to social media.

These assaults have garnered the attention of lawmakers at the General Assembly.

House Bill 534 was filed at the end of March and would make it a Class G felony to commit a “second or subsequent” assault on a school employee or school volunteer.

Another bill, House Bill 188, makes changes to student discipline policies by requiring districts to adopt codes of conduct for students and discipline procedures that are consistent with federal and State law. The bill includes a process for expelling repeat offender students ages 14 and up.

In the years prior to the pandemic, a number of school boards in districts around the state had weakened discipline policies in order to reduce suspensions, particularly for minority students.

Between 2010 and 2016, bad behavior such as fighting, drug use, and assaults was rising while discipline was being weakened, mainly as a result of policies issued by the Obama administration.

One of the more spotlighted cases of Obama-era discipline practices was the “PROMISE” program. That program was rolled out after the Parkland High School shooting incident to combat the so-called “school-to-prison pipeline” by altering suspension statistics of minority students that in the past had been suspended at higher rates than other groups.

Instead of suspensions, the use of “restorative justice” and “peer mediation” practices was implemented by many North Carolina districts. Wake County Public Schools was one of those districts.

Student offenders would no longer face real consequences as one mom in Wake County found out when her high school student was beaten by another student resulting in stitches and a broken arm. The other boy was given a short suspension and when the student returned to school, her son was forced to sit in a “restorative justice circle” with his attacker, who, according to the mom, apparently laughed about the whole situation.

The Associated Press reported that in the last few months districts are starting to reverse those policies. Teachers are speaking out about the rise in violence in schools, some of it directed at them. Excerpt from that report below:

“Approaches such as “restorative justice” were adopted widely in recent decades as educators updated exclusionary policies that cut off students’ access to learning and disproportionately affected students of color.

But more students have been acting out, and some school systems have faced questions from teachers, parents, and lawmakers about whether a gentle approach can effectively address problems that disrupt classrooms.

The latest example came this week in Newport News, Virginia, where teachers complained at a school board meeting that the school system where a 6-year-old shot his teacher had become too lenient with students. Students who assaulted staff were routinely allowed to stay in the classroom, they said, because of a misguided focus on keeping them in school.

The local school board said it would take “the necessary steps to restore public confidence” in the school system.

Earlier this year, the State Board of Education released its annual school crime and dropouts report. The accompanying press release from the N.C. Department of Instruction noted the report “reflected similar trends” across the nation.

The report listed 11,170 crimes or acts of violence during the 2021-22 school year. That’s a 16.9% increase over the previous year. The rate of crime per 1,000 students (7.51 crimes per 1,000 students) also increased by 16.3%.

The press release also cited a student behavior survey by the U.S. Department of Education that said 84% either agreed or strongly agreed that the pandemic negatively impacted the behavioral development of students.


About A.P. Dillon

A.P. Dillon is a reporter currently writing at The North State Journal. She resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_ Tips: APDillon@Protonmail.com
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