In November, an Alabama news station aired footage of a classroom fight between two boys during which the teacher, who initially appeared to be trying to diffuse the argument, walks away, even as one of the boys struggles to get up following a hard blow.
But there is the flip side.
According to media reports, a Florida teacher's jaw was discloated while he was trying to break up a fight this spring. And in June, according to the Boston Globe, a 65-year-old teacher collapsed and died after intervening between two high school students, a boyfriend and girlfriend.
Kochhar-Bryant said such hands-off policies have been building over the last several years, but the balance of liability concern and a zero tolerance toward classroom violence often conflict.
"Now you have crazy situations where kids are handcuffed," she said.
There are seeds of a turnabout, she noted, in larger, urban school districts where administrators have taken it upon themselves to draft a type of school safety policy that backs away from the idea that teachers shouldn't get involved.
"It's been slow to be implanted, I think," she said.