Despite an intensifying debate among Americans regarding how much support the U.S. government should provide Ukrainian forces in their ongoing war against invading Russian troops, there is little dispute that life has been dangerous and tumultuous for the Ukrainian people over the past year.
Nevertheless, one 13-year-old refugee who found a home in San Francisco, California, last year is now longing for the relative security of Ukraine after spending time in the chaotic environment of her new middle school.
Yana, a teen who fled Ukraine for the safety of San Francisco, was looking for calm in her new school, but found chaos instead. https://t.co/7TQKXRojUw
— San Francisco Chronicle (@sfchronicle) February 19, 2023
According to reports, the girl — identified only as Yana — enrolled in Marina Middle School last month. At first, she was excited and optimistic about the experience. Before long, however, she realized that attending a public school in California might be more dangerous than surviving the warzone that her homeland has become.
“I thought it was going to be better because it’s San Francisco,” she said. “But after two days, I saw everything going on at the school.”
Specifically, Yana noted that her schoolmates were constantly acting out, including with disrespectful displays aimed at teachers. She was reportedly confronted by a group of bullies on one occasion and on another she had her cell phone stolen.
She complained that “nothing happened” to the students who targeted her and otherwise interrupted the learning process, noting that she now believes such interruptions have become a standard part of the school day.
As a result of the fear and dread that she felt before going to school, Yana reportedly simply stopped attending classes. According to her family, the school district refused a request to allow her to switch schools.
Now, she says she just wants to return to the school she knew in Ukraine.
While violence and disruptions have long been a problem in public schools nationwide, Marina Middle School has established a particularly problematic reputation despite its location within one of San Francisco’s most affluent neighborhoods.
A local news report just last month detailed some of the most outrageous behavior reported by school administrators. Students have reportedly filmed themselves engaging in physical assaults and one reportedly brought an air gun into the school, though there were no corresponding records indicating that anyone involved in such activities had been suspended.
The San Francisco Examiner described the situation as “barely controlled chaos” that has taken its toll on teachers and other staff, leaving the school unable to fill critical roles and setting the stage for even more unchecked disruption and violence.