Los Angeles (January 27, 2005) — There were 14 sex offenses, 53 robberies, and 22 assaults with deadly weapons at Los Angeles' Locke High School during the 2000-2001 and 2001-2002 school years. In April 2003 there was a lunchtime brawl at the school involving an estimated 300 students. Yet, Locke doesn't qualify as a "persistently dangerous" school by California's standards.
In New York, three male high school students forced a girl into a school closet and sexually assaulted her. Another male high school student smashed his ex-girlfriend's head through a school trophy case. The New York Daily News reports that neither incident was counted as "dangerous" by the Education Department.
A new Reason Foundation report shows that not only are schools underreporting and downplaying violent incidents, they are also failing to share crime data with parents. The Reason analysis found 75 percent of large school districts do not post school crime statistics on district or state education Web sites.
"As a parent you are far more likely to find crime data about your child's school in the newspapers than you are on the district's Web site," said Lisa Snell, director of education at Reason Foundation and author of the report. "And it is part of a pattern. Schools consistently underreport violence figures and then make it extremely difficult for parents to learn what criminal activity is taking place on campus. We need higher standards of transparency and accountability."
The study found only Los Angeles, New York City, Florida, and Pennsylvania offer Web sites with searchable databases or spreadsheets with multiple years of school crime data and detailed reports by type of crime.
To improve the safety of public schools and to provide parents with accurate information about school crime, the Reason study recommends creating uniform reporting standards so that there are consistent definitions for school violence that make it possible to compare data from individual schools, regardless of location. The report also advocates using actual incidents of school violence, not things like expulsions or arrests, to measure dangerous schools and suggests including crime statistics in student report cards that are distributed to parents.
Full Report Online
The full report, School Violence and No Child Left Behind: Best Practices to Keep Kids Safe, is available online at www.reason.org/ps330.pdf.
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Lisa Snell, Director of Education, Reason Foundation, (951) 218-1171
Chris Mitchell, Media Relations, Reason Foundation, (310) 367-6109