Defining dangerous down
California has no “persistently dangerous” schools. Nary a one, reports the LA Times.
California education officials declared Wednesday that not one public school in the state should be called “persistently dangerous,” a federal designation that would have allowed students to transfer to new schools to escape crime.
That’s because states get to define dangerous, and education officials make it hard to qualify. A school must catch at least one student with a gun three years in a row, and must expel “at least 1% of its students each year for hate crimes, extortion, sexual battery or other violent acts.”
It’s a common dodge. North Carolina and Florida also came up with definitions that lead to zero “persistently dangerous” schools.
Alan Kerstein, Los Angeles Unified’s school police chief, says campuses are safe. Pay no attention to those surveillance cameras.
“We do acknowledge that we have combat, or the occasional knife and gun. But there are so few incidents.”
. . . Kerstein cited Washington Preparatory High School in South Los Angeles, which was the scene of a brawl in March involving several hundred students who confronted baton-wielding officers. The incident resulted in 11 student arrests, and several students and officers suffered cuts and bruises.
“People will see [an article in] the paper and think, ‘Gee, Washington is tough,’ but overall, there were few violent incidents on that campus last year,” he said.
According to district data, there were eight batteries, five instances of weapons possession, and one assault with a deadly weapon at Washington Prep during the 2001-02 school year.
But some teachers wrote to their union last year that the school was “OUT OF CONTROL” and complained, among other things, that students were regularly beaten and robbed there.
As long as Washington doesn’t expel the perpetrators, it can stay off the dangerous list.