Major crimes soar in city schools – QNS.com

Major crimes soar in city schools

Schools throughout the city need to be safer, and it is the Department of
Education’s (DOE) responsibility to make sure that is the case, according to Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum.
Statistics in Mayor Bloomberg’s
Preliminary Management Report showed major crimes in city schools increased 21 percent from July through October in 2006 compared to the previous year,
raising a red flag for lawmakers.
“A 21 percent increase in major crime in our city’s public schools is just
unacceptable,” said City Councilmember Robert Jackson, who chairs the council’s education committee. “And reports that student safety transfers are too frequently being denied only raise concerns that the school system is failing to adequately protect our children.”
The numbers in the Mayor’s
Management Report come on the heels of a Gotbaum report issued one week earlier that concluded that the DOE
underreported school safety incidents, did not provide school administrators with enough resources to effectively handle safety incidents, and has suspended a safety transfer policy that failed to keep kids safe.
“Contrary to what the Department of Education would have us believe, they have failed to keep our kids safe in schools,” Gotbaum said. “The suspension policy has failed; the safety transfer
policy has failed; and the DOE’s focus on turning a handful of schools into armed prisons isn’t working in keeping our kids safe.”
However, the DOE quickly rebuked
Gotbaum’s report, which they say is based on a 3 percent response rate by school administrators and an anonymous Internet survey, calling it statistically meaningless.
“Its assertion that the Department of Education is required to report to State officials only incidents that involve the police - rather than any and all violations of the discipline code, no matter how
relatively minor - is incorrect,” the DOE said in a statement.
According to the survey that Gotbaum’s office conducted, only 30 percent of the 46 administrators from Queens schools that responded to the survey believed that their schools had the necessary resources to effectively handle safety incidents.
In addition, 11 borough schools said that more than 120 safety incidents
occurred at their school during the
2005-2006 school year, while only 7
percent agreed that students returning to school from a Superintendent-imposed suspension behaved properly.
Gotbaum is calling for a complete
overhaul of the school safety policy,
asking the DOE to start to listen to
suggestions from parents, teachers and administrators on how to improve the system.
“The DOE needs to listen to them
carefully and draw on their experiences to create a school safety policy that truly allows teachers to teach and students to learn,” Gotbaum said.

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