South Jamaica’s JHS 8 added to ‘dangerous’ list

South Jamaica’s JHS 8 added to ‘dangerous’ list
IS 8 in South Jamaica
Photo by Christina Santucci
By Rich Bockmann

The state Education Department in June retroactively placed South Jamaica’s Richard S. Grossley JHS 8 on its list of persistently dangerous schools for the 2011-12 school year.

Should the school remain on the list next year, parents will be able to transfer their children to other schools as the city attempts to bring down the rate of violent incidents

The federal No Child Left Behind Act requires states to compile lists of dangerous schools each year, leaving it up to each state to define the criteria.

In New York, schools are placed on the list if they document approximately six violent incidents for every 100 students over a period of two years. Serious incidents can include robbery; assault; possessing, using or threatening to use a weapon; reckless endangerment; arson; kidnapping; sexual offenses; and homicide.

In August 2011, the state identified 14 persistently dangerous schools across the state for the 2011-12 school year, none of them in Queens.

The NYSED said there were errors between the city and state that took some time to verify and correct, and in June it retroactively added three city schools, including JHS 8, to the 2011-12 list.

The city Department of Education said it plans to notify parents of the designation as well as their options after the state releases its 2012-13 list in August.

“Parents at the three schools will have the option to transfer their children through our process for No Child Left Behind. This is done throughout the enrollment office,” a department representative said.

Each school will receive a $100,000 grant to help implement a plan to improve school safety. According to the NYSED website, successful schools have created safer environments by developing and equitably enforcing a conduct code, developing safety and response plans and conducting drills to increase preparedness for serious incidents and analyzing incident data in order to recognize when intervention is necessary.

The city DOE would not elaborate on specific plans at the troubled schools. The Dignity in Schools Campaign is a group that advocates for reform in the DOE’s school discipline policies.

Spokeswoman Shoshi Chowdry said that while the persistently dangerous schools were not the focus of the campaign, she had heard that some of the schools increase their police presence.

“We as a campaign would rather see, instead of investing in police tactics, more investment in school resources,” she said.

In order to be removed from the list, the school must submit an incident reduction plan to the state explaining the steps it will take to increase school safety. The superintendent must then petition the commissioner to be removed from the list.

The NYSED will review the school’s incident report and conduct a site visit.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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