A Look At Police Calls To Madison Schools

Doug Erickson: Also, incidents occurring anywhere on or adjacent to a high school campus or across the street from the campus were captured in the data. So in a handful of cases, district officials said, the person arrested may have been an adult or a juvenile not currently enrolled in the district. Black individuals were […]

Safety Climate: A look at Police Calls to Madison High Schools

Doug Erickson:

Total police calls to Madison’s four main high schools declined 38 percent from the fall semester of 2006 to last spring. But those figures tell only a partial story, and not a very meaningful one.
That’s because the numbers include all police calls, including ones for 911 disconnects, parking lot crashes and stranded baby ducks. (It happened at La Follette last May.)
The State Journal then looked at police calls in eight categories closely related to safety — aggravated batteries, batteries, weapons offenses, fights, bomb threats, disturbances, robberies and sexual assaults. Those calls are down 46 percent from fall 2006 to spring 2008.
The schools varied little last spring in the eight categories. Memorial and West each had 13 such calls, La Follette 14 and East 16.
School officials are relieved by the downward trend but careful not to read too much into the figures.
“We know there’s almost a cyclical nature to crime statistics and even to individual behavior,” said Luis Yudice, who is beginning his third year as district security coordinator.
Art Camosy, a veteran science teacher at Memorial, said he thinks the climate is improving at his school. Yet he views the police figures skeptically, in part because the numbers are “blips in time” but also because he wonders if the district’s central office is behind the drop.
“Are our building administrators being pressured not to call police as often?” he asks.
John Matthews, the longtime executive director of Madison Teachers Inc. (MTI), the district’s teachers union, contends that the district’s leadership has indeed done this from time to time, directing building administrators to hold off on calling police so often.
Yudice, a former Madison police captain, said there was a time years ago when the district was extremely sensitive about appearing to have a large police presence at its schools. He rejects that notion now.
“It’s just the opposite,” he said. “We are more openly acknowledging that we have issues that need to be dealt with by the police. Since I’ve been working here, there has never been a directive to me or the school principals to minimize the involvement of police.”

All four Madison high schools feature an open campus. It appears that Erickson only reviewed calls to the High Schools, not those nearby. 1996-2006 police calls near Madison High Schools is worth a look along with the Gangs & School violence forum.
Finally, I hope that the Madison Police Department will begin publishing all police calls online, daily, so that the public can review and evaluate the information.

Madison police calls near local high schools: 1996-2006

Madison School District Safety Coordinator Luis Yudice (Luis is a retired Police Officer and a East High Grad) at a recent West High School neighborhood crime discussion (10/18/2007):

“Big picture perspective:
Our community really has changed a lot within the past five years. I sense a great deal of stress within the police department.
Citywide issues
Increasing violence involving girls. He has looked at a lot of data with the District Attorney’s office. Girls are extremely angry.
Angry parents are coming into the schools.
Increasing issues in the neighborhood that end up in the schools. Mentioned South Transfer Point beating and that Principal Ed Holmes mediated the situation at an early stage.
Growing gang violence issue particularly in the east side schools. We do have gang activity at Memorial and West but most of the issues are at Lafollete and East. Dealing with this via training and building relationships
What the school are experiencing is a reflection of what is going on in the community.”

Madison Police Chief Noble Wray, via Bill Lueders @ Isthmus (7/30/2008):

He (Wray) began by talking about perceptions of crime, and especially the notion that it’s getting worse in Madison. He stressed that it wasn’t just the media and public who felt this way: “If I would ask the average beat cop, I think they would say it’s gotten worse.” But, he added, “Worse compared to what?”

The absence of local safety data spurred several SIS contributors to obtain and publish the police call data displayed below. Attorney and parent Chan Stroman provided pro bono public records assistance. Chan’s work on this matter extended to the Wisconsin Attorney General’s office.
A few important notes on this data:

  • 13% of the records could not be geocoded and therefore are not included in the summary information. The downloadable 1996-2006 police call data .zip file is comprehensive, however.
  • Clicking on the numbers below takes the reader to a detail page. This page includes all matching police calls and a downloadable .csv file of same. The csv file can be opened in Excel, Numbers and many data management tools.
  • This summary is rather brief, I hope others download the data and have a look.

























































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Police Calls within .25 miles of:
Madison East Area Edgewood Area LaFollette Area Memorial Area West Area
1996 1285 392 324 869 728
1997 1351 455 403 896 750
1998 1340 343 488 875 703
1999 1281 352 477 969 772
2000 1391 300 528 888 933
2001 1476 305 480 769 1034
2002 1470 363 491 886 1019
2003 1362 349 403 865 921
2004 1455 346 449 989 1012
2005 1311 325 465 994 917
2006 1221 330 389 1105 838
Weapons Incident / Offense
Madison East Area Edgewood Area LaFollette Area Memorial Area West Area
1996 5 0 3 4 6
1997 5 0 3 4 0
1998 10 0 5 2 1
1999 10 0 5 4 0
2000 4 0 6 2 5
2001 3 0 3 0 0
2002 11 0 3 5 5
2003 4 1 1 4 5
2004 4 0 9 7 4
2005 9 0 6 6 2
2006 10 1 5 7 3
Drug Incident
Madison East Area Edgewood Area LaFollette Area Memorial Area West Area
1996 10 0 10 9 7
1997 16 0 7 6 4
1998 12 1 8 10 6
1999 18 0 7 18 4
2000 16 2 13 17 12
2001 18 0 10 20 12
2002 22 0 14 16 12
2003 23 2 18 15 8
2004 26 0 20 17 7
2005 19 0 17 20 12
2006 24 2 11 15 8
Arrested Juvenile
Madison East Area Edgewood Area LaFollette Area Memorial Area West Area
1996 59 1 35 28 38
1997 72 0 83 52 29
1998 21 0 34 17 14
1999 16 0 29 24 7
2000 42 0 76 14 15
2001 52 0 66 19 15
2002 51 0 69 13 12
2003 9 0 9 9 3
2004 8 0 8 9 4
2005 11 0 10 7 3
2006 6 0 21 11 4
Bomb Threat
Madison East Area Edgewood Area LaFollette Area Memorial Area West Area
1996 1 0 0 0 1
1997 1 0 1 0 0
1998 4 2 0 0 1
1999 7 0 15 0 1
2000 4 0 17 2 1
2001 1 0 8 10 11
2002 2 0 9 0 4
2003 1 0 2 1 11
2004 6 0 4 0 6
2005 1 0 4 0 0
2006 3 0 0 0 4

Related links:

Madison’s K-12 Governance Non Diversity: Police in Schools Meeting

Logan Wroge: Throughout the public comment period, several people said the presence of police officers inside school can negatively affect students of color and feeds into the “school-to-prison pipeline.” “Ain’t no amount of training, ain’t no amount of special certificates is going to matter when it comes to black and brown kids, because (police officers) […]

Data show suspensions up in Madison schools for first semester

Amber Walker: Out-of-school suspensions are up in the Madison Metropolitan School District at this point in the school year compared to last year. On Monday, the Madison School Board received its midyear update on the Behavior Education Plan. District data shows 1,122 suspensions across the district so far this school year, compared to 892 at […]

Three Madison high schools erupt in chaos Monday noon

David Blaska: From what we can determine, the misbehaving students were not peacefully protesting for gun control, social justice, or better cafeteria food. They were just fighting. Let’s start with Chief Koval’s bare bones police blotter: MIDTOWN: Disturbance – 12:12 p.m. MPD Educational Resource Officer (ERO) requested back-up to assist with a large disturbance in […]

Why are some D.C. schools underreporting student suspensions?

Washington Post Editorial (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns the Post): AFTER POST reporters raised questions about the accuracy of suspension rates in some D.C. public schools, a warning went out to principals. “Inappropriate, unprofessional and fraudulent” was how the system’s instructional superintendent described failure to accurately record students barred from classes. It’s good that such […]

Madison Schools’ Discipline Policies

Pat Schneider: “Usually the first quarter is a honeymoon period when students are excited to be in school and behaviors are good. So when things were already deteriorating rapidly, it was a sign to me that this was not going in a good direction,” said Bush, 50, who has taught at Jefferson Middle School on […]

Madison Schools’ Behavior Report: 2012-2013



Madison School District PDF:

1. Both out-of-school and in-school suspensions were less common in 2012-13 than in 2011-12. In particular, the reduction in out-of-school suspensions led to nearly 600 fewer days of instruction lost to suspensions.
2. Large disproportionalities exist between suspensions and demographics in MMSD. For example, African- American students make up 19% of MMSD’s population but received 60% of out-of-school suspensions. Low- income students make up 48% of MMSD but received 85% of suspensions.
3. There are large disparities in discipline practices between schools. For example, among elementary schools, out-of-school suspensions ranged between 0 and 98, and behavior referrals ranged between 25 and 2,319.

Related: Madison School Board discipline presentation (PDF) and a Wisconsin DPI FAQ (PDF).
Related: Gangs & School Violence Forum (2005) audio & video and Police calls to and near Madison schools: 1996-2006.

Commentary on the 2013 Madison School Board Races

John Nichols:

As The Capital Times prepares to make endorsements in Madison School Board races that will be decided April 2, our editorial board will ponder issues ranging from the reactions of candidates to Gov. Walker’s voucher plan, the achievement gap and the challenge of maintaining quality schools in a time of funding cuts and shortfalls.
Our editorial board will make endorsements in two contested races, for Seat 3 between former La Follette High School teacher and low-income housing provider Dean Loumos and retired Madison police lieutenant Wayne Strong, and for Seat 4 between incumbent James Howard and challenger Greg Packnett, a legislative aide. The candidates all have strengths, and present voters with distinct options.
In the third race, there isn’t really a race. Candidates TJ Mertz and Sarah Manski won the primary Feb. 19. Then Manski surprised the community by dropping out of the contest several days later — announcing that her husband has been admitted to graduate school in California and that she would not be able to finish a term. We didn’t editorialize about the primary race. But after Manski dropped out, we said she had done the right thing because it would have been entirely inappropriate to maintain a campaign for a term she could not complete. But, as a board, we were disappointed by the loss of competition and urged the candidate who finished third in the primary, Ananda Mirilli, to make a bid as a write-in contender.
Mirilli made a great impression during the primary race and, had she waged a write-in campaign, she would have done so as an innovative thinker about how best to make great public schools work for all students. As the parent of an elementary-school student and a big proponent of public education, I’m familiar with a number of the people who organized Mirilli’s primary campaign, and who would have supported a write-in run. They form an old-fashioned grass-roots group that recalls the sort of organizations that traditionally backed School Board candidates in Madison. They could have mounted a fine campaign. But I also respect Mirilli’s decision not to run. The race would have been expensive and difficult. We’ve spoken several times, before the primary and since, and I’m convinced Mirilli’s voice will remain a vital one in local and state education debates. There’s a good chance she will eventually join the School Board, just as current board member Marj Passman was elected a year after she lost a close race to another current School Board member, Maya Cole.
Unfortunately, with Mirilli out of the running, the Seat 5 race is an uncontested one. That’s focused a good deal of attention on Manski, who I’ve known since she was writing for the Daily Cardinal on the University of Wisconsin campus. Among the several boards I have served on over the years, including those of the media reform group Free Press and Women in Media and News, I’ve been on the board of the reform group Liberty Tree, for which Manski has done fundraising work. Manski’s husband, Ben, worked for Liberty Tree before he left to manage Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s presidential run.

Much more on the 2013 Madison School Board Elections, here.

State superintendent candidate calls for volunteer security in schools

Matthew DeFour:

The challenger in the spring election for state superintendent of public instruction is calling on school districts to post volunteer security guards in schools to protect student safety.
Rep. Don Pridemore, R-Erin, issued a statement Thursday saying school boards “should be given the freedom to hire a competent, well-trained school official or employee who is experienced with applying force whenever force is required.” He said retired or on-duty police officers would be preferred.
Many school districts already contract with local police departments to assign police officers to schools. Madison has a police officer assigned to each of its high schools.
Pridemore said the most cost-effective approach would be for districts to ask qualified, retired volunteers from their community to patrol.

Teen assaulted by group of girls near Madison East High School

Channel3000.com, via a kind reader:

A teenager said she was attacked and beaten by three classmates near East High School.
Two 16-year-old girls and a 15-year-old girl were arrested last week in connection with the assault.
The victim, Alana Krupp, 15, said she knows the girls involved but maintains she wasn’t talking trash about them.
The incident happened last Wednesday at the intersection of Fourth Street and Winnebago Street a block south of East High School.
Krupp arrived at the bus stop like any other day, but in a few seconds an otherwise OK freshman year at East High School was turned upside down when she was confronted by the girls.
“She said, ‘I wanted to fight you.’ And I said, ‘I’m not going to fight you, because there’s no point in it. I never did anything to you,'” Krupp said. “She hit me in the face, and I got pulled down to the ground by my hair.”

Related: Madison police calls near local high schools: 1996-2006.

Arrests, citations reach lowest level in 10 years at Madison high schools

Matthew DeFour:

The number of arrests and citations for incidents at Madison’s four main high schools dropped last year to the lowest level in more than a decade, according to police data.
But arrests and citations at West and Memorial were twice the number at East and La Follette — a reversal of the situation 10 years earlier when there were more than twice as many at the city’s East Side high schools.
West was the only school with an increase from the previous year.
The Wisconsin State Journal obtained the data from the Madison Police Department amid a debate over whether the Madison School District should use drug-sniffing police dogs in random sweeps of high schools. The School Board was to consider the issue Monday but delayed a vote until late September — in part to review the arrest and citation data.
District officials say an increase in drug-related disciplinary referrals in recent years, and the use of drug dogs in area school districts, support the use of police dogs. Community surveys also have showed strong support.
Luis Yudice, the School District’s security coordinator, who introduced the drug-sniffing dog proposal with the support of Madison police, is concerned drugs in schools can lead to more gang activity, fights and weapons in schools as students arm themselves in self-defense. He views the police dog policy as a possible deterrent that could prevent a crisis.

Related: Madison police calls near local high schools: 1996-2006.
Gangs & School Violence Forum Audio/Video.

Crimes Rattle Madison Schools

Susan Troller, via a kind reader’s email:

It’s been a rough week in Madison schools, with the first degree sexual assault of a student in a stairwell at East High School and an alleged mugging at Jefferson Middle School.
The sexual assault occurred on Thursday afternoon, according to police reports. The 15-year-old victim knew the alleged assailant, also 15, and he was arrested and charged at school.
On Wednesday, two 13-year-old students at Jefferson allegedly mugged another student at his locker, grabbing him from behind and using force to try to steal his wallet. The police report noted that all three students fell to the floor. According to a letter sent to Jefferson parents on Friday, “the student yelled loudly, resisted the attempt and went immediately to report the incident. The students involved in the attempted theft were immediately identified and detained in the office.”
The mugging was not reported to police until Thursday morning and Jefferson parents did not learn about the incident until two days after the incident. When police arrived at school on Thursday, they arrested two students in the attempted theft.
Parents at East were notified Thursday of the sexual assault.
Luis Yudice, Madison public schools safety chief, said it was unusual for police not to be notified as soon as the alleged strong arm robbery was reported to school officials.

Related: Gangs & School Violence Forum Audio & Video and police calls near Madison high schools 1996-2006.

Teen Accused Of Sexual Assault At Madison’s East High School

A Madison East High School student has been arrested and charged on suspicion of sexually assaulting another student on school grounds this week.
Madison police said the 15-year-old boy was arrested on a charge of first-degree sexual assault on Thursday after a 15-year-old girl reported the incident.
Dan Nerad, superintendent of the Madison Metropolitan School District, said while these cases are rare, they happen and it forces district officials to take a step back and look how this could have been prevented. Officials sent a letter home to parents to explain the incident and the district’s next steps.
“We’re going to work real hard to deal with it, we’re going to work real hard to learn from it. We’re going to work real hard to make any necessary changes after we have a change to review what all of these facts and circumstances are,” Nerad said.
Nerad said that while there are things the district can do to prevent such incidents, he believes much more help is needed from the community. He said the fact that this type of activity has entered the school door should be a wake up call to society.

Related: Gangs & School Violence Forum Audio & Video and police calls near Madison high schools 1996-2006.

As the Madison school year starts, a pair of predicaments

Paul Fanlund, via a kind reader:

In fact, the changing face of Madison’s school population comes up consistently in other interviews with public officials.
Police Chief Noble Wray commented recently that gang influences touch even some elementary schools, and Mayor Dave Cieslewicz expressed serious concern last week that the young families essential to the health and vitality of Madison are too often choosing to live outside the city based on perceptions of the city’s schools.
Nerad says he saw the mayor’s remarks, and agrees the challenge is real. While numbers for this fall will not be available for weeks, the number of students who live in Madison but leave the district for some alternative through “open enrollment” will likely continue to grow.
“For every one child that comes in there are two or three going out,” Nerad says, a pattern he says he sees in other urban districts. “That is the challenge of quality urban districts touched geographically by quality suburban districts.”
The number of “leavers” grew from 90 students as recently as 2000-01 to 613 last year, though the increase might be at least partly attributed to a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that greatly curtailed the ability of school districts to use race when deciding where students will go to school. In February 2008, the Madison School Board ended its long-standing practice of denying open enrollment requests if they would create a racial imbalance.
Two key reasons parents cited in a survey last year for moving children were the desire for better opportunities for gifted students and concerns about bullying and school safety. School Board member Lucy Mathiak told me last week that board members continue to hear those two concerns most often.
Nerad hears them too, and he says that while some Madison schools serve gifted students effectively, there needs to be more consistency across the district. On safety, he points to a recent district policy on bullying as evidence of focus on the problem, including emphasis on what he calls the “bystander” issue, in which witnesses need to report bullying in a way that has not happened often enough.
For all the vexing issues, though, Nerad says much is good about city schools and that perceptions are important. “Let’s be careful not to stereotype the urban school district,” he says. “There is a lot at stake here.”

Related: the growth in outbound open enrollment from the Madison School District and ongoing budget issues, including a 10% hike in property taxes this year and questions over 2005 maintenance referendum spending.
The significant property tax hike and ongoing budget issues may be fodder for the upcoming April, 2011 school board election, where seats currently occupied by Ed Hughes and Marj Passman will be on the ballot.
Superintendent Nerad’s statement on “ensuring that we have a stable middle class” is an important factor when considering K-12 tax and spending initiatives, particularly in the current “Great Recession” where housing values are flat or declining and the property tax appetite is increasing (The Tax Foundation, via TaxProf:

The Case-Shiller index, a popular measure of residential home values, shows a drop of almost 16% in home values across the country between 2007 and 2008. As property values fell, one might expect property tax collections to have fallen commensurately, but in most cases they did not.
Data on state and local taxes from the U.S. Census Bureau show that most states’ property owners paid more in FY 2008 (July 1, 2007, through June 30, 2008) than they had the year before (see Table 1). Nationwide, property tax collections increased by more than 4%. In only four states were FY 2008’s collections lower than in FY 2007: Michigan, South Carolina, Texas and Vermont. And in three states–Florida, Indiana and New Mexico–property tax collections rose more than 10%.

It will be interesting to see what the Madison school District’s final 2010-2011 budget looks like. Spending and receipts generally increase throughout the year. This year, in particular, with additional borrowed federal tax dollars on the way, the District will have funds to grow spending, address the property tax increase or perhaps as is now increasingly common, spend more on adult to adult professional development.
Madison’s K-12 environment is ripe for change. Perhaps the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy charter school will ignite the community.

Student arrested for allegedly bringing gun into Madison West High School

Bill Novak:

A West High School student was arrested Monday afternoon after allegedly having a .22 caliber revolver in the waistband of his pants inside the school.
The incident is considered the first time in at least a decade that a student has been discovered with a firearm inside a Madison Metropolitan School District facility, said Luis Yudice, coordinator of school safety for the district.
The 16-year-old student, a sophomore at West, was tentatively charged with possession of a firearm in a school zone.
The incident was reported at about 3:30 p.m. at the school, 30 Ash St.
Madison police spokesman Joel DeSpain said the revolver was missing its cylinder (which holds the bullets) and the student had no ammunition.
“He didn’t threaten anyone with the firearm,” DeSpain said. “He told the officer he was simply holding onto the gun for someone else.”

Related: Police Calls near Madison high schools 1996-2006 and the 2005 Gangs & School Violence Forum.

Notes and Links: President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan Visit Madison’s Wright Middle School (one of two Charter Schools in Madison).


Background

President Barack Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan will visit Madison’s Wright Middle School Wednesday, November 4, 2009, purportedly to give an education speech. The visit may also be related to the 2010 Wisconsin Governor’s race. The Democrat party currently (as of 11/1/2009) has no major announced candidate. Wednesday’s event may include a formal candidacy announcement by Milwaukee Mayor, and former gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett. UPDATE: Alexander Russo writes that the visit is indeed about Barrett and possible legislation to give the Milwaukee Mayor control of the schools.

Possible Participants:

Wright Principal Nancy Evans will surely attend. Former Principal Ed Holmes may attend as well. Holmes, currently Principal at West High has presided over a number of controversial iniatives, including the “Small Learning Community” implementation and several curriculum reduction initiatives (more here).
I’m certain that a number of local politicians will not miss the opportunity to be seen with the President. Retiring Democrat Governor Jim Doyle, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Superintendent Tony Evers, Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk (Falk has run for Governor and Attorney General in the past) and Madison School Superintendent Dan Nerad are likely to be part of the event. Senator Russ Feingold’s seat is on the fall, 2010 ballot so I would not be surprised to see him at Wright Middle School as well.

Madison’s Charter Intransigence

Madison, still, has only two charter schools for its 24,295 students: Wright and Nuestro Mundo.
Wright resulted from the “Madison Middle School 2000” initiative. The District website has some background on Wright’s beginnings, but, as if on queue with respect to Charter schools, most of the links are broken (for comparison, here is a link to Houston’s Charter School Page). Local biotech behemoth Promega offered free land for Madison Middle School 2000 [PDF version of the District’s Promega Partnership webpage]. Unfortunately, this was turned down by the District, which built the current South Side Madison facility several years ago (some School Board members argued that the District needed to fulfill a community promise to build a school in the present location). Promega’s kind offer was taken up by Eagle School. [2001 Draft Wright Charter 60K PDF]

Wright & Neustro Mundo Background

Wright Middle School Searches:

Bing / Clusty / Google / Google News / Yahoo

Madison Middle School 2000 Searches:

Bing / Clusty / Google / Google News / Yahoo

Nuestro Mundo, Inc. is a non-profit organization that was established in response to the commitment of its founders to provide educational, cultural and social opportunities for Madison’s ever-expanding Latino community.” The dual immersion school lives because the community and several School Board members overcame District Administration opposition. Former Madison School Board member Ruth Robarts commented in 2005:

The Madison Board of Education rarely rejects the recommendations of Superintendent Rainwater. I recall only two times that we have explicitly rejected his views. One was the vote to authorize Nuestro Mundo Community School as a charter school. The other was when we gave the go-ahead for a new Wexford Ridge Community Center on the campus of Memorial High School.

Here’s how things happen when the superintendent opposes the Board’s proposed action.

Nuestro Mundo:

Bing / Clusty / Google / Google News / Yahoo

The local school District Administration (and Teacher’s Union) intransigence on charter schools is illustrated by the death of two recent community charter initiatives: The Studio School and a proposed Nuestro Mundo Middle School.

About the Madison Public Schools

Those interested in a quick look at the state of Madison’s public schools should review Superintendent Dan Nerad’s proposed District performance measures. This document presents a wide variety of metrics on the District’s current performance, from advanced course “participation” to the percentage of students earning a “C” in all courses and suspension rates, among others.

Education Hot Topics

Finally, I hope President Obama mentions a number of Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s recent hot topics, including:

This wonderful opportunity for Wright’s students will, perhaps be most interesting for the ramifications it may have on the adults in attendance. Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman recent Rotary speech alluded to school district’s conflicting emphasis on “adult employment” vs education.

Wisconsin State Test Score Comparisons: Madison Middle Schools:

WKCE Madison Middle School Comparison: Wright / Cherokee / Hamilton / Jefferson / O’Keefe / Sennett / Sherman / Spring Harbor / Whitehorse

About Madison:

UPDATE: How Do Students at Wright Compare to Their Peers at Other MMSD Middle Schools?

Notes and Links on Last Week’s Southwest Madison Student Murder

David Blaska mentions that Madison’s Mayor is holding a meeting this morning. The meeting includes Madison School District Superintendent Dan Nerad:

Several landlords have invited the mayor to take up residence on our troubled streets so that he can experience firsthand what many of our neighbors must put up with in their daily lives. Some of them extended the invitation/challenge even before — hours before — the murder. [Let the Mayor come to Meadowood.]
In the meantime, Mayor Dave Cieslewicz has made good on his promise to convene a meeting to deal with the “Lord of the Flies” chaos in certain sections of southwest Madison.
The mayor’s meeting will be held Wednesday morning — exactly one week after Madison woke up to the news that a 17-year-old boy had been shot to death at Leland and Balsam Roads the previous evening, June 9, on the troubled southwest side. Shortly afterward, three 16-year-olds boys were apprehended and charged in connection with his murder — two of them as adults for first degree intentional homicide.
Some of us, including Ald. Pham-Remmele, saw the trouble coming long agI blogged on May 20, quoting a neighbor, “Unless the police are able to get a handle on the roaming gangs, this summer is going to be bloody.” [Going to be a long, hot summer]

A previous post mentioned this:

Police officer Amos said the principal of Toki Middle School will not permit him to arrest children in the school, even though some of them are chronic drug users.
“These people know how to work the system,” said another. Yes, they know their rights but not their responsibilities.

Nearly four years ago, Rafael Gomez organized a Gangs & School Violence forum. The conversation, which included local high school principals, police personnel and Luis Yudice, among others, is worth revisiting.
Related: Police calls near local high schools 1996-2006 and more recent police calls via a map.

Written Bomb Threat at Madison West High School: Letter to Parents

Principal Ed Holmes [9K PDF] via a kind reader’s email:

When Madison Schools receive any information that jeopardizes or threatens the safety of our schools, we immediately report the incident to Madison Police and consult with them to determine what the best course of action should be.
The Madison School District has well-defined protocols that are implemented anytime a threat is made against schools. The decisions regarding a response to safety situations are always made in close consultation with the Madison Police Department and other law enforcement agencies.
The safest place for students is in school where we provide structure and supervision. Therefore any decision to remove students from that environment has to be weighed carefully with a potential for placing them in a less structured environment that potentially raises other safety concerns.
These procedures were followed today at West High in response to a written bomb threat.
After consulting with District Administration, the building was searched at 6:00 a.m. using trained Madison Metropolitan School district engineers, architects and custodial supervisors. This procedure has been used in other schools under similar circumstances. Our goal is to maintain a safe educational environment for all students and staff. We have an excellent relationship with our students and encourage them to talk with us about possible issues. We ask you, as families, to help keep our lines of communication open by encouraging your students to talk about their concerns.
West High continues to be a safe place. We pledge that we will continue to focus our time, attention, and resources to keep it so.
Ed Holmes, Principal
Madison West High School [Map]

Related: Police calls near Madison high schools 1996-2006 and recent Madison police calls (the event referenced in the letter above is not present on the police call map as of this morning (3/13/2009)).

Dane County schools tighten security measures

Andy Hall:

The Verona School District is planning to become the first in Dane County to lock all doors at some schools and require visitors to appear on camera to receive permission to enter, and the first to require that high school students display identification badges at all times. Many students support the moves, even as others question whether they’re really needed in the community that calls itself “Hometown, USA.”
In Middleton, educators are deep into discussions that could lead to asking taxpayers for $3.5 million for cameras, other equipment and remodeling projects to tighten security at their 10 schools. Madison school officials have begun a major review of security measures that by spring could lead to proposals to control the public’s access to that district’s 48 schools.
These are signs that despite tight budgets, Wisconsin educators are pushing ahead in their efforts to keep schools safe — efforts that took on added urgency with the 2006 slaying of Weston High School principal John Klang by a student, and other tragedies across the nation.

Related: Gangs & School Violence forum and police calls near Madison high schools: 1996-2006.

ACLU Report Reveals Arrests At Hartford-Area Schools On Rise

ACLU:

Police arrests of students at Hartford-area schools are on the rise, according to a new American Civil Liberties Union report released today, a trend that disproportionately impacts children of color.
The ACLU report, entitled “Hard Lessons: School Resource Officer Programs and School-Based Arrests in Three Connecticut Towns,” also shows how the use by school districts in Hartford, East Hartford and West Hartford of school resource officers who are not adequately trained and whose objectives are not clearly defined leads to the criminalization of students at the expense of their education.
The report’s findings are just the latest examples of a disturbing national trend known as the “school to prison pipeline” wherein children are over-aggressively funneled out of public schools and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems.
“Our goal is to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to receive a quality education,” said Jamie Dycus, staff attorney with the ACLU Racial Justice Program and the primary author of the report. “Relying too heavily on arrests as a disciplinary measure impedes that goal and only serves to ensure that some of our most vulnerable populations are criminalized at very young ages before alternatives are exhausted that could lead to academic success.”
According to the report, students in West Hartford and East Hartford are arrested at school at a rate far out of proportion to their numbers. During the 2006-07 school year, for example, black and Hispanic students together accounted for 69 percent of East Hartford’s student population, but experienced 85 percent of its school-based arrests. In West Hartford during the same year, black and Hispanic students accounted for 24 percent of the population, but experienced 63 percent of the arrests.

Related:

Fight at Madison Memorial shows difficulty of keeping school hallways safe

Jessica VanEgeren:

If art really does imitate life, then a peek into the interracial dynamics of high school life in Madison can be found every morning inside Room 272 at West High School. There, the students, hand-picked because of their ethnicity, respond to bullying, gang-related activities, body awareness issues and racial stereotyping by creating skits that mimic common situations students experience in school.
Lounging on pillows and passing around a bag of suckers at 9 a.m., the students, from varying backgrounds including Hmong, Chinese, African-American, Albanian and Laotian, are at ease with one another. This is not a dynamic reflected by every student in every school.
Sometimes an inspiration for a skit can be found right outside the classroom door, as junior Louisa Kornblatt found out on a recent morning when a student yelled, “Watch where your tall white ass is going, bitch,” during a break between classes. Although Kornblatt returned to the classroom with a flushed face, asking if anyone else had heard the comment, most of the students reacted to it nonchalantly.
“That’s just part of a day,” said senior John Reynolds, one of the students in the Multico theater group, which performs in schools all over the district. “You learn to ignore it. West is a culturally diverse place, and you’ll hear those kinds of statements in the hallways. You just need to learn to focus on the good, not the bad.”

Madison’s Memorial High School Closes Early Today Amid Safety Concerns

Channel3000:

Students at James Madison Memorial High School in Madison were let out early on Friday amid ongoing safety concerns, according to a Madison Metropolitan School District spokesman.
There was increased police presence at the school and officials postponed an early lunch on Friday, according to Ken Syke.
The students were released at 12:55 p.m. Officials said that buses will be there to pick up students.
They said that all of the schools extracurricular activities are scheduled, but there will be an extra police presence at each event.
Syke said that no incidents occurred at the school on Friday, but that officials are concerned about safety after a fight broke out at the school earlier this week. The fight apparently involving two groups of students on Thursday and seven students were ultimately arrested.

Sandy Cullen has more along with WKOW-TV and NBC-15. Madison School District statement.
Related: Gangs & School Violence Forum Audio & Video and police calls near Madison high schools 1996-2006.

Police: Fight At Memorial High School Leads To 7 Arrests

Channel3000:

A fight involving two groups of students at Memorial High School has led to the arrest of seven students, Madison police said.
Madison police responded to a fight a Memorial High school around 9:11 a.m. on Thursday.
The fight involved two groups of students and during the incident, a 16-year-old girl was knocked to the floor and is believed to have lost consciousness, according to police.
Another student is accused of battering the girl when she was knocked down. The girl suffered abrasions but did not require hospitalization.
A 17-year-old girl has been arrested and tentatively charged with substantial battery and disorderly conduct.

Related: Police calls near Madison high schools: 1996-2006.

Owl Creek neighborhood raises red flags for city, schools

Sandy Cullen:


The first thing the school principal noticed was the large number of new students coming from a tiny, isolated neighborhood that didn’t exist two years ago.
Then it was the repeated fights — which would begin on the bus ride home, fester in the neighborhood, then come back to school the next day, said Glendale Elementary School Principal Mickey Buhl.
And there were other troubling signs — youngsters shaving their eyebrows and cutting their hair in ways that Buhl said indicated flirtation with the idea of gangs. Glendale staff who went to the Owl Creek neighborhood, off Voges Road on the southeast side near McFarland, saw an unfinished development sandwiched between two industrial parks and far from stores, social services and bus lines.
Madison police also noticed problems. From March 1 to June 30 of this year, police responded to 81 calls for service, ranging from theft to battery, in the tiny development, said Lt. Carl Strasburg.

Related: Police calls near Madison area high schools: 1996-2006.

Mentoring, in addition to metal detectors, are needed to curb violence in schools.

Milwaukee Journal – Sentinel Editorial:

The stabbing at Hamilton High School last week, in which a 15-year-old girl was attacked with a knife by another girl in a bathroom, came on the day the school was to roll out its airport-quality metal detector.
But while metal detectors can keep weapons out of schools when properly used, we believe no machine could have guaranteed this attack wouldn’t have happened. Students can be attacked anywhere. In order to get a handle on violence, more mentoring is needed among at-risk youth.
The Violence-Free Zones program, now in use in seven local high schools, has been successful in reducing violence and suspensions by offering a big brother, big sister type of approach.

Police calls at and near Madison high schools: 1996-2006.

Madison Police Chief Noble Wray Sees “Serious Gang Connection” in Crime Hike

Kristin Czubkowski:

Making connections among various types of crimes and ways to remedy them was the theme of the night as Police Chief Noble Wray gave a talk on public safety in Madison to the City Council Wednesday night.
Statistically, crime in Madison was a mixed bag in 2007, Wray said. While overall crime was up 5.5 percent from 2006, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports, that increase stemmed primarily from an 8.3 percent increase in property crimes such as burglary, theft and arson. By contrast, violent crime, which includes acts such as homicide, rape and aggravated assault, decreased 14.2 percent in 2007.
Wray explained that the rising rates of property crimes came from the increased theft of precious metals, in particular copper, as well as thefts of big-ticket items such as televisions from businesses, which were directly related to gang activity and the drug trade, he said.
“This is the first time that I’ve noticed this, and I’ve worked for the Madison department for 24 years, that there is a serious gang connection with these (burglaries),” he said. “We haven’t had that in the past.”

Related:

Milwaukee Schools Urged to Revise Discipline Policy

Alan Borsuk:

A team of national experts has urged a major overhaul in the way Milwaukee Public Schools handles behavior issues in schools, saying MPS does not do enough to deal with problems short of suspending students and may have the highest suspension rate of any urban school system in America.
“District staff members need to mobilize to meet this challenge” of dealing with behavior issues in ways that don’t involve suspensions but are more effective in improving both a student’s behavior and academic work, the team said in a report to MPS officials.
Superintendent William Andrekopoulos said in an interview that changes in line with the report’s recommendations are under way, including a new policy in which every parent will be given a written statement this fall on the disciplinary practices that will be used in a child’s classroom.
The report, submitted several months ago, is the second in two years by a team from the Council of Great City Schools that was critical of major aspects of what goes on in MPS classrooms. In both cases, the reports were not made public until a Journal Sentinel reporter asked for them. In 2006, a report from the council criticized academic practices and low achievement by students, called for more direction from the central administration of what was being done in schools, and said people involved in MPS, from the School Board to the classroom, “appear fairly complacent.”

Madison police calls near local high schools 1996-2006.

Madison School Board Votes for More Security Funds

Listen to the discussion [47MB MP3 Audio].

Andy Hall & Brittany Schoep:

“This is one of the most important things we’ve brought before you,” Rainwater told the board. “It is critically needed to ensure our schools continue to be safe.”
“We’re walking a really fine line right now,” School Board President Arlene Silveira said. “I think these positions will really help keep us on the positive side of that line.”
The high school positions are designed to help students with behavior, academic, social, transitional and other problems who can hurt themselves and the learning environment, Memorial High School Principal Bruce Dahmen said.

Susan Troller has more:

In an interview before Monday night’s meeting, Pam Nash, assistant superintendent for high schools and middle schools said, “The number of incidents I deal with in the high schools and middle schools is going up every year. We want to get a proactive handle on it. It’s as simple as that.”
“This is not only important but critical to the future of our schools,” Superintendent Art Rainwater said as he recommended an initial proposal to spend $720,500 for security measures. The money is available through the recently signed state budget, a windfall Madison schools did not know they would get when the Board inked the final budget in October.
The board approved hiring four case managers at East, West, Memorial and La Follette and five positive behavior coaches will be brought on board at O’Keeffe, Sherman, Jefferson, Black Hawk and Whitehorse middle schools.

Related:

Madison Schools Consider an Increase in School Safety/Security Spending

Susan Troller:

We are at a point in our high schools and middle schools where we need to take some action to assure the public that our schools remain safe and secure,” Superintendent Art Rainwater said. He noted that public safety had become a significant issue in neighborhoods throughout the city.
But long time board member Carol Carstensen asked to table the proposal, and other board members agreed to put the decision off a week for more study.
“I’m probably going to vote for it,” she said. “But I would like a little more time and more details in the next week.”

Related:

Madison School District School Security Discussion

Madison School Board: Monday evening, November 12, 2007: 40MB mp3 audio file. Participants include: Superintendent Art Rainwater, East High Principal Al Harris, Cherokee Middle School Principal Karen Seno, Sennett Middle School Principal Colleen Lodholz and Pam Nash, assistant Superintendent for Secondary Schools.
A few notes:

  • First 30 minutes: The City of Madison has agreed to fund police overtime in the schools. Johnny Winston, Jr. asked about supporting temporary “shows of force” to respond to issues that arise. Maya Cole asked what they (Administrators) do when staff choose not to get involved. East High Principal Al Harris mentioned that his staff conducts hall sweeps hourly. Sennett Principal Colleen Lodholz mentioned that they keep only one entrance open during recess.
  • 52 minutes: Al Harris discussed the importance of consistency for staff, students and parents. He has named an assistant principal to be responsible for security. East now has data for the past year for comparison purposes. Additional assistant principals are responsible for classrooms, transitions and athletics.
  • 55 minutes: Art Rainwater discussed District-wide procedures, a checklist for major incidents and that today parents are often informed before anyone else due to cell phones and text messaging.
  • Recommendations (at 60 minutes):
    • Pam Nash mentioned a strong need for increased communication. She discussed the recent West High School community forums and their new personal safety handbook. This handbook includes an outline of how West is supervised.
    • 68 to 74 minutes: A discussion of the District’s equity policy vis a vis resource allocations for special needs students.
    • 77 minutes – Steve Hartley discusses his experiences with community resources.
    • 81+ minutes: Steve Hartley mentioned the need for improved tracking and Art Rainwater discussed perceptions vs what is actually happening. He also mentioned that the District is looking at alternative programs for some of these children. Student Board Representative Joe Carlsmith mentioned that these issues are not a big part of student life. He had not yet seen the new West High safety handbook. Carol Carstensen discussed (95 minutes) that these issues are not the common day to day experiences of our students and that contacts from the public are sometimes based more on rumor and gossip than actual reality.

I’m glad the Board and Administration had this discussion.
Related:

Madison Schools’ Expulsion Data Update

Susan Troller:

A total of 92 students were recommended for expulsion in 2006-07, compared with 105 similar recommendations the previous year. Students are recommended for expulsion for a serious violation of the district’s student conduct and discipline plan.
Following the recommendation, the student may be expelled, or may be diverted or dismissed from the process for special education reasons, or because there is not sufficient proof of the violation.
According to the report, 12 students were expelled for use of force against a staff member, eight were expelled for possession of a weapon with intent to use, and seven were expelled for possessing an illegal drug with intent to deliver.
Other offenses included engaging in physical acts of violence as part of a gang (four students), possession of a bomb or explosive device or making a bomb threat (three students), possession of a pellet or BB gun (three students), and physical attacks, arson, serious threats to students and something called “volatile acts.”
School Board President Arlene Silveira noted that the board will be considering expulsion policies at its meeting on Monday.
“The board has had a series of meetings to ensure that we have a fair, consistent and unbiased process for considering expulsions,” Silveira said. “This is an ongoing process, and we will be taking a look at how we fairly handle the student code of conduct in coming meetings.”

Related:

Much more on gangs and school violence.

Police calls and discipline rates – middle schools

Madison Parent:

Following on our previous post, we’ve taken a look at the same categories of data, but this time for MMSD middle schools. The same data notes from the previous post apply here, with a couple of additional notes: the police call data for Toki includes police calls for Orchard Ridge Elementary School, if any, since those schools share the same block; and enrollment dropped in many of the middle schools between the comparison years (enrollment declined about ten percent in the aggregate for MMSD middle schools; school-specific enrollment information is available at the DPI web site).

Madison High School Police Calls & Discipline Rates:
Comparing 2001/2002 and 2005/2006

Madison Parent’s School Safety Site:

When there’s violence at school, parents want answers to their questions about school safety. If parents are told “our school is safer than other schools”, where’s the data that supports that vague reassurance? Police call-for-service data (as posted on this site from time to time) is one indicator of school crime, but it’s only part of the picture, and may not be a reliable basis of comparing school to school – or even comparing whether the safety situation in one particular school is improving or deteriorating.
We looked at police call data for East, LaFollette, Memorial and West High Schools in 2001-02, and in 2005-06. (Data notes: This data was obtained by public records request to the Madison Police Department. Due to the format in which the data was provided, the call totals for each school are for calls made to the block in which each school is located, rather than the specific street address of the school. Calls for each year were tallied over a July 1 through June 30 period in order to track the corresponding school years used for comparison below. Variations in school enrollment between the comparison years aren’t reported here since they don’t appear to affect the analysis or conclusions, but that information is readily accessible on the DPI web site. The DPI web site is also the source of the discipline data presented below.)

West High School Homecoming Police Calls

Madison Police Department:

Both of these Police Reports did not include West High’s address (30 Ash Street). The incident address can be a factor in reporting school related issues. See the Madison Parents’ School Safety Site’s Police call data summary from July 2006 to June 2007. NBC 15 also covered these incidents.

Madison Police Chief on Gangs in Schools

Madison Parent: Madison Police Department Chief Noble Wray spoke on downtown safety at the monthly meeting of Downtown Madison, Inc. on June 28, 2007, and also briefly addressed the topic of gang activity in Madison schools during the program, as reported in The Capital Times (via the MadCrime101 blog, a welcome and valuable new resource […]

Police and Madison Schools

Bill Lueders and Jason Shepherd: In the 2004-05 school year, police were summoned to Madison schools more than 1,500 times and made nearly 400 arrests, mostly of students. Recently Isthmus writer Jason Shepard went through raw data of police reports to compile spreadsheets of police calls and arrests, arranged by school. One resulting finding — […]

In favor of deep (and complex) reporting

Amanda Ripley: The lesson for journalists (or anyone) working amidst intractable conflict: complicate the narrative. First, complexity leads to a fuller, more accurate story. Secondly, it boosts the odds that your work will matter — particularly if it is about a polarizing issue. When people encounter complexity, they become more curious and less closed off to new […]

Wisconsin Association of School Boards: Conversation about arming teachers should start at local level

Lisa Speckhard Pasque: In an often passionate debate that can become a battle between extremes, Robert Butler, associate executive director of the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, doesn’t think there’s a top-down, one-size-fits-all solution. On an episode of the Sunday political talk show “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” Butler suggested asking local police, liability carriers and […]

Dane County districts pour nearly $3 million into school security upgrades over summer

Doug Erickson:

Public schools in Dane County poured nearly $3 million into security upgrades over the summer, continuing a trend that began nearly 15 years ago with a school shooting in Columbine, Colo.
Almost all school buildings in the county will have secure entrances when classes begin this week, even in the small, rural districts of Belleville and Wisconsin Heights. All outside doors in both districts will be locked after the start of the school day, a first for both districts but a standard precaution now across much of the county.
Several districts, including Sun Prairie, added a layer of security beyond an intercom system, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to reconfigure entrances so that visitors walk directly into an office or a locked vestibule before being let into any other part of the school. At two schools in

Related: Police calls near Madison High Schools: 1996-2006.

Hundreds Of Connecticut Weapons Incidents Reported During 2011-12 School Year

Denise Buffa:

Efforts to keep Connecticut schools safe have escalated since a lone gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown last year and shot to death 20 first-graders and six adults. But not all threats to school safety come from outside the building.
A Courant examination of state records, coming in Sunday’s Hartford Courant and on courant.com, revealed that hundreds of Connecticut public schools reported incidents involving weapons in the 2011-2012 school year. The weapons included at least 16 handguns and at least two rifles or shotguns.
Sunday’s report will include an online database of every school that reported an incident involving a weapon and a list of weapons reported at each school.
In the 2011-2012 school year, more than 400 knives were confiscated. There were also at least 37 box cutters, 20 razor blades, 17 switchblades, eight swords or machetes and six stun guns.

Related: Police calls near Madison High Schools: 1996-2006.

Gangs in Dane County? Yes, they’re everywhere, detective says

Karyn Saemann:

Gangs are everywhere in Dane County, from the largest Madison high schools to the smallest rural hamlets.
In the latest of a series of informational meetings led by a Dane County detective who monitors local gang activity, Sun Prairie parents were told their help is needed.
Detective Joel Wagner estimated that 3 to 4 percent of Dane County youths are involved in a gang. Recruiting begins in the fourth grade, he said; gang members can be of any race and socioeconomic status, but are primarily kids who have fallen away from school and family and are looking for a group to belong to.
“The best thing is prevention,” Wagner said. “We need to get back to eyes and ears.”
“Know your children’s friends. Know them well,” he said. “Know your children’s friends’ parents. Know them better.”
Wednesday night’s meeting at Sun Prairie High School stretched more than two hours and included disturbing video of gang fights and other violence from Dane County and across the nation as well as online photos of gang members who identify themselves as being from Sun Prairie and other Dane County communities.
Particularly disturbing was video — not from Dane County — of a gang initiation in which a teen’s head was smashed into a cement curb and into a florescent light tube. In another video, a teen was beaten in a bathroom as part of an initiation.

Related:

Student Control

Thomas Crocker:

In a world of increased occasions for forms of social control, the university is extending its reach. In an AP story today we learn that universities are broadening the scope of their campus behavior codes to apply to student conduct off campus, in an effort to cultivate humanity, to borrow from Martha Nussbaum. One purpose is to make students better citizens within the community. From the article:

We have a responsibility to educate our students about being responsible citizens,” said Elizabeth A. Higgins, Washington’s director of community standards and student conduct, whose office has ‘educated’ 19 students since the extended code of conduct took effect in January.
The scope of these codes can be quite broad, as the article reports that the University of Colorado code “regulates any conduct that ”affects the health, safety or security of any member of the university community or the mission of the university.” The article further reports that Seattle University “has put its students on notice that cyber-patrolling will continue this year.”

Tangentially, this is one of the issues worth looking into around local high schools: given the open campus, how much undesirable activity occurs near those facilities, and who has jurisdiction? This data: Madison police calls near local high schools: 1996-2006.

As Program Moves Poor to Suburbs, Tensions Follow

Solomon Moore:

rom the tough streets of Oakland, where so many of Alice Payne’s relatives and friends had been shot to death, the newspaper advertisement for a federally assisted rental property in this Northern California suburb was like a bridge across the River Jordan.
Ms. Payne, a 42-year-old African-American mother of five, moved to Antioch in 2006. With the local real estate market slowing and a housing voucher covering two-thirds of the rent, she found she could afford a large, new home, with a pool, for $2,200 a month.
But old problems persisted. When her estranged husband was arrested, the local housing authority tried to cut off her subsidy, citing disturbances at her house. Then the police threatened to prosecute her landlord for any criminal activity or public nuisances caused by the family. The landlord forced the Paynes to leave when their lease was up.
Under the Section 8 federal housing voucher program, thousands of poor, urban and often African-American residents have left hardscrabble neighborhoods in the nation’s largest cities and resettled in the suburbs.
Law enforcement experts and housing researchers argue that rising crime rates follow Section 8 recipients to their new homes, while other experts discount any direct link. But there is little doubt that cultural shock waves have followed the migration. Social and racial tensions between newcomers and their neighbors have increased, forcing suburban communities like Antioch to re-evaluate their civic identities along with their methods of dealing with the new residents.

Why is crime rising in so many American cities? The answer implicates one of the most celebrated antipoverty programs of recent decades by Hanna Rosin @ the Atlantic Monthly:

Lately, though, a new and unexpected pattern has emerged, taking criminologists by surprise. While crime rates in large cities stayed flat, homicide rates in many midsize cities (with populations of between 500,000 and 1 million) began increasing, sometimes by as much as 20percent a year. In 2006, the Police Executive Research Forum, a national police group surveying cities from coast to coast, concluded in a report called “A Gathering Storm” that this might represent “the front end … of an epidemic of violence not seen for years.” The leaders of the group, which is made up of police chiefs and sheriffs, theorized about what might be spurring the latest crime wave: the spread of gangs, the masses of offenders coming out of prison, methamphetamines. But mostly they puzzled over the bleak new landscape. According to FBI data, America’s most dangerous spots are now places where Martin Scorsese would never think of staging a shoot-out–Florence, South Carolina; Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina; Kansas City, Missouri; Reading, Pennsylvania; Orlando, Florida; Memphis, Tennessee.
Memphis has always been associated with some amount of violence. But why has Elvis’s hometown turned into America’s new South Bronx? Barnes thinks he knows one big part of the answer, as does the city’s chief of police. A handful of local criminologists and social scientists think they can explain it, too. But it’s a dismal answer, one that city leaders have made clear they don’t want to hear. It’s an answer that offers up racial stereotypes to fearful whites in a city trying to move beyond racial tensions. Ultimately, it reaches beyond crime and implicates one of the most ambitious antipoverty programs of recent decades.

Related:

Officials increase security at Toki Middle School

Andy Hall:

Madison school officials on Tuesday said they ‘re strengthening security at Toki Middle School to calm concerns from staff members and parents that the building is becoming too chaotic.
Beginning today, Toki will get a second security guard and also will get a dean of students to assist with discipline problems. The guard is being transferred from Memorial High School, while the dean of students is an administrative intern who has served at La Follette High School.
“I think very shortly Toki will get back on its feet, ” said Pam Nash, the Madison School District ‘s assistant superintendent overseeing middle and high schools.
The moves come a week after about 100 parents, school staff members and top district officials attended an emotional, three-hour Parent Teacher Organization meeting at which speakers expressed fears about safety and discipline at the West Side school.

via Madison Parents’ School Safety Site.
Channel3000:

Police were called to Toki 107 times last school year for incidents that included 17 disturbances, 11 batteries, five weapons offenses and one arson, WISC-TV reported.
So far this year, police have been called to 26 incidents. The district security chief said the school is safe, though, and he warned the numbers can be misleading.
There was no way to compare those numbers to police calls at other Madison middle schools because the district doesn’t keep that data itself. But the district security chief said they are working on that.
Toki PTO President Betsy Reck said “it’s a start,” but she said she believe there needs to be a clearly defined “behavior plan” posted immediately that shows appropriate behaviors and the consequences if they are not followed.
Reck said she wants consistent consequences applied to negative behavior.

When is a school dangerous?

Under the No Child Left Behind law, the definition varies from state to state. In Wisconsin, that means some troubled schools escape the law’s scrutiny. Sarah Carr: At Todd County High School in South Dakota last school year, 16 calls to police helped earn the school an unsavory distinction in the eyes of the state […]

Officials Meet to Discuss School Safety

WKOW-TV: Insubordination, bullying and fighting top the list of problems Madison schools deal with regularly. Madison police and district officials answered questions and discussed the safety challenges of local schools. Police handed out an incident report for Memorial High School. According to the report, there were 32 calls to police for fighting since last January. […]

Numbers on Arrests at MMSD School

Document Feed on the Isthmus web site has posted Jason Shepard’s recent column and data supplied by the school district: Police and schools: By the numbers Spreadsheets compiled from raw data showing police calls and arrests at Madison schools, 2004-2005 In the 2004-05 school year, police were summoned to Madison schools more than 1,500 times […]