A teenage Ukrainian refugee who fled her war-torn country last year now wants to return home after experiencing the violence in San Francisco’s public school system.
San Francisco's public schools are so violent that a Ukrainian refugee wants to go back to a literal war zone to escape them https://t.co/qnHLixGqjV
— Not the Bee (@Not_the_Bee) February 20, 2023
In January, 13-year-old Yana started eighth grade at Marina Middle School. Unfortunately, she soon experienced the reality of the American school system — realizing that life in the U.S. does not necessarily match the idyllic fantasy that many non-Americans have about life in America.
Speaking with the San Francisco Chronicle, the teenage refugee described the dysfunction and violence she experienced in her new school.
“I thought it was going to be better because it’s San Francisco,” Yana said, as translated by her aunt. “But after two days, I saw everything going on at the school.”
The teenager went on to tell the outlet that she has witnessed students repeatedly interrupt classes, cause disturbances, and blatantly disrespect their teachers — pointing out that there were absolutely no disciplinary consequences for these misbehaving students.
“Nothing happened,” Yana said, adding that she had realized the behavior was “normal” for that school.
Despite having escaped war, and traveling to a place that she thought was safe, Yana became a target of bullying. The Ukrainian refugee allegedly had her phone stolen, and was threatened by a group of students.
The incidents have instilled fear in the teenager, prompting her to stop attending school. Yana’s family has requested that she be transferred to a different school, but the school district has refused their request. Still, she has not returned to school since.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, “Yana just wants to go back to her hometown in central Ukraine, back to the only school she knew before the war, even as her mom and aunt have started to research camps and other programs in San Francisco to occupy the summer months.”
Nearly a quarter million of the 8 million refugees who have fled Ukraine in response to the Russian invasion have been resettled into the United States as of December, according to comments from President Joe Biden during a press conference just days before Christmas.
“The United States has been proud to welcome more than 221,000 Ukrainians seeking refuge since March of 2022, including as part of Uniting for Ukraine — as part of our Uniting for Ukraine program,” the president said.
Yana is not the only person noticing the violence at Marina Middle School. Teachers, counselors and security staff — some of whom have left the school — have reported that horrific incidents have taken place there, including students recording videos of themselves beating another student, three female students attacking a special-education student and a student bringing an air gun to school. There have been no documented suspensions at the time of those incidents, according to the San Francisco Examiner.
Teachers and counselors have also reported that five to 15 students linger in the hallway much of the time while classes are in session while screaming at their teachers, throwing food at each other, and intimidating other students — some of whom are scared to even leave their classrooms to go to the bathroom.
The San Francisco Examiner described the situation at Marina Middle School as “barely controlled chaos” that has caused a major staffing turnover at the school.