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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 look to make discipline about growth, not punishment

Pat Schneider:

But statistics showing African-American students in the district were eight times more likely to get an out-of-school suspension than white students last year raises questions about whether the discipline code works against efforts to close the achievement gap.
Among big school districts reconsidering such measures is Broward County in Florida, where a zero-tolerance policy led to arrests for such infractions as possessing marijuana or spraying graffiti, the New York Times reports. That district, which had more than 1,000 arrests in the 2011 school year, entered into an agreement last month with community organizations to overhaul its policies to de-emphasize punishment. School districts in Los Angeles, Baltimore, Chicago and Denver are undertaking similar reviews of get-tough policies.
“Everybody knows that suspensions don’t always achieve a change in behavior,” says Tim Ritchie, dean of students at Madison Memorial High School. “When we send some kids out of school (on suspension) they don’t have anywhere appropriate to go — their homes can be very chaotic environments.”

Related: Gangs & School Violence Forum.

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.

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.

Study Questions School Discipline Effectiveness

Alan Schwarz:: Raising new questions about the effectiveness of school discipline, a report scheduled for release on Tuesday found that 31 percent of Texas students were suspended off campus or expelled at least once during their years in middle and high school — at an average of almost four times apiece.When also considering less serious […]

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.

School Is Turned Around, but Cost Gives Pause

Sam Dillon:

As recently as 2008, Locke High School here was one of the nation’s worst failing schools, and drew national attention for its hallway beatings, bathroom rapes and rooftop parties held by gangs. For every student who graduated, four others dropped out.
Now, two years after a charter school group took over, gang violence is sharply down, fewer students are dropping out, and test scores have inched upward. Newly planted olive trees in Locke’s central plaza have helped transform the school’s concrete quadrangle into a place where students congregate and do homework.
“It’s changed a lot,” said Leslie Maya, a senior. “Before, kids were ditching school, you’d see constant fights, the lunches were nasty, the garden looked disgusting. Now there’s security, the garden looks prettier, the teachers help us more.”

Verona Schools Message on School Safety

Following is a message from the Superintendent and VAHS Administration. Please address any inquiries to VAHS Administration or Dr. Gorrell.
Through our contacts with the Dane County Gang Task Force we have recieved information that indicates in the coming days the VAHS campus or Verona Hometown Days are possible locations for an altercation between two rival gangs. These gangs are the Clanton 14 gang and the Carnales gang. These are the two gangs alleged to have connections with the murder of Antonio Perez last month.
Given this information the following security measures will be put in place immediately:
Tomorrow and Friday we will have an additional VPD Officer stationed on campus working with Officer Truscott. Also, regular VPD patrol officers will be in the area patrolling both the VAHS campus and the neighboring residential area in their squad cars.
Members of the administrative team will also be out patrolling the interior and exterior of the buildings throughout the day. Special attention will be paid to monitoring the two designated K-Wing and two designated main building entrances. All other entrances are to be kept closed and locked. This too will be monitored by the VPD and HS administration.
Given current information the Administrative team, in consultation with our partners in law enforcement, believes that these are prudent preventative steps. If additional information becomes available we will alter this plan accordingly. We ask all staff members to do their usual stellar job of remaining vigilant and reporting anything of concern to the Administrative Team at once.
Keeping staff informed is a priority and more information will be provided if and when it becomes available.
Thank You,
Dr. Gorrell
Ms. Hammen
Ms. Williams
Mr. Murphy
Mr. Boehm

Related: Gangs & School Violence Forum Audio / Video.

Madison Police Department expands gang unit: 40 Gangs in Madison

Sandy Cullen:

Police estimate there are now more than 1,100 confirmed gang members in Madison and about 40 gangs, about 12 of which are the main Latino gangs.
The Dane County Enhanced Youth Gang Prevention Task Force recommended in August 2007 that a countywide gang coordinator’s position be considered. That group’s co-chairman, former Madison police Capt. Luis Yudice, who’s also security coordinator for the Madison School District, first called for a “comprehensive strategy so we can all work in unison” to address gang violence in September 2005.
Since then, Yudice said, staff in Madison schools are recognizing more issues involving gangs among students, which he attributes in part to greater awareness and training.
“We have gang-involved kids in probably most of our high schools and middle schools and some of our elementary schools,” he said. Staff do a good job of keeping gang activity out of the schools, he said, and work closely with students, families, police and social workers in an effort to keep students out of gangs.
Locally, the gang issue is not unique to Madison schools. “We’re seeing more gang activity in the suburban school districts,” Yudice said, as well as the emergence of hate groups targeting blacks and Latinos in Madison, Deerfield, Cottage Grove and DeForest.

Related: Gangs & School Violence Forum audio, video & links.

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.

Focus in Chicago: Students at Risk of Violence

Susan Saulny:

The new chief officer of the public schools here, Ron Huberman, a former police officer and transit executive with a passion for data analysis, has a plan to stop the killings of the city’s public school students. And it does not have to do with guns or security guards. It has to do with statistics and probability.
The plan comes too late for Derrion Albert, the 16-year-old who was beaten to death recently with wood planks after getting caught on his way home between two rival South Side gangs, neither of which he was a member, the police said.
The killing, captured on cellphone video and broadcast on YouTube, among other places, has once again caused widespread grief over a seemingly intractable problem here. Derrion, a football player on the honor roll, was the third youth to die violently this academic year — and the 67th since the beginning of the 2007-8 school year. And hundreds of others have survived shootings or severe beatings on their way to and from school.

A Partial Look (School Climate) at the Outbound Madison School District Parent Survey

Samara Kalk Derby:

Madison school district parents dissatisfied with local schools got a boost after a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision which trumped state law and made it easier for students living in the district to attend schools in other districts, a practice known as open enrollment.
The case was brought by Seattle parents who challenged the use of race in assigning students to schools, arguing it violated the Constitution’s right of equal protection. The ruling was celebrated by those who favor color-blind policies, but criticized by civil rights groups as a further erosion of Brown vs. Board of Education, the landmark 1954 case that outlawed school segregation.
Last year it became easier in Madison, and in school districts across the country, for white students to transfer even if it meant increasing the district’s racial imbalance.
After a flood of local students left the district last year, Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad decided to investigate why.
“We had an interest in knowing ideas from people that had made the decision for open enrollment,” Nerad says. “We are attempting to learn from those experiences to see if there are some things as a school district that we can constructively do to address those concerns.”
To that end, the district surveyed households of district residents who left Madison schools and transferred to another district for the 2008-09 school year to find out why the families left. The majority of parents who took their kids out of the Madison school district last year under open enrollment said they did so for what the district classifies as “environmental reasons”: violence, gangs, drugs and negative peer pressure. Other reasons were all over the map. Many cited crowded classrooms and curriculum that wasn’t challenging enough.
Only a few responses pointed directly to white flight.

The Private/Parochial, Open Enrollment Leave, Open Enrollment Enter, Home Based Parent Survey, including School Board discussion, can be found here. David Blask comments.

Madison police chief: Time to gang up on gangs

Steven Verburg:

Madison police chief Noble Wray wants to send more officers after gang members, and he plans to talk to the mayor next week about an initiative to make that possible.
A recent assessment by the police department’s two-officer Gang Unit indicated more than 900 confirmed Madison gang members and another 500 people considered associates of gang members.
“It is clear the number of young people connected to gangs is on the rise, and we need to respond to that growth,” Wray said in a press release issued Friday.
Many gang members and their associates commit burglaries, robberies, assaults, shootings, and they deal drugs, he said. Wray wants to form a new “Gang/Crime Prevention Unit.”
The unit would work closely with neighborhood officers, community policing teams, detectives and others by tapping the expertise of staffers who analyze crime data.

Related: Gangs & School Violence Forum.

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.

Bullying, Thefts Persist Despite Drop in Violence

Valerie Strauss:

Even though spasms of intense violence erupt on campuses occasionally and linger in the social consciousness, violence at schools across the country has been decreasing for a number of years.
That doesn’t necessarily mean schools are safe havens. Consider:
— Eighty-six percent of public schools in 2005-06 reported that one or more violent incidents, thefts of items valued at $10 or greater or other crimes had occurred — a rate of 46 crimes per 1,000 enrolled students.
— Almost a third of students ages 12 to 18 reported being bullied inside school.
— Nearly a quarter of teenagers reported the presence of gangs at their schools.

Indicators of School Crime and Safety.

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.

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:

Bullying, Brawling and Bringing Weapons; Maryland Students Discuss Realities of School Life

Nelson Hernandez:

As about 200 students from across Maryland took their seats at a summit to discuss the problem of school violence, the stereo played an instrumental version of a song familiar, questionable and yet somehow appropriate: “Gangsta’s Paradise.”
Coolio’s elegy to gang violence (sample lyric: “You better watch how you talking, and where you walking/Or you and your homies might be lined in chalk”) perhaps didn’t speak to the experience of the students from rural Garrett County in western Maryland, but the causes and tragic outcomes of school violence haven’t changed much since the hit song was released in 1995.
Gossip, rumors, dirty looks exchanged in the hallway. Neighborhood beefs or quarrels over a girlfriend or boyfriend. The temptation to bully somebody defenseless or different. All could kick off a fight back then, and to listen to the students who spoke at the summit last week in Greenbelt, they still do.
A girl from Parkville High School in Baltimore County rattled off a list of the things she sees at her school: “Gang violence. Student-teacher violence. Sexual harassment. Bullying.”

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.

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:

Taking Aim at Youth Gun Violence

Rodrigo Zamith:

A new initiative for Minneapolis and Hennepin County will increase penalties for juveniles caught with firearms, both replica and real.
Minneapolis and Hennepin County officials hope to reduce juvenile gun crime this summer by stiffening penalties for youths caught with BB guns, real guns or replicas.
The new Juvenile Gun Offender Initiative was announced Tuesday by Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, Hennepin County Attorney Michael Freeman and others. It will also increase enforcement of youth curfew laws, replica firearms ordinances and supervision of juveniles on probation for gun offenses.
The new rules apply to offenders between 10 and 17 years old. First-time offenders with a real gun will be given probation, four to six weeks of out-of-home placement and 40 hours of education on the dangers and effects of guns. If the requirements aren’t met, youths will be given four to six months of out-of-home placement.

Gangs & School Violence Forum.

Prevention called cure for school violence

Liz Bowie:

Communities and schools should take a preventive approach to school violence rather than focus solely on punishing students who have behavior problems, experts said yesterday at a summit on school violence.
Students are looking for structure, high academic expectations, and teachers who understand and can communicate with them, said Ivan J. Juzang, a consultant who gave the keynote address at the daylong meeting at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Providing those basics will make schools safer, he said.
The summit was organized by Rep. Elijah E. Cummings and State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick after several high-profile incidents of violence in schools this year, including the beating of a Baltimore teacher that became nationwide news after it was recorded on a student’s cell phone and posted on the Internet.
The summit was called to find solutions to the problems of school violence, but the conversation among participants and speakers focused more broadly on the need to intervene in the lives of troubled children as early as elementary school. The participants included legislators, teachers, school board members, community leaders, parents and students from across the state.

Related:

Educating the Community on Gangs in Madison

Rose Johnson-Brown:

Many times people hide their heads in the sand when there is an accusation of behavior in Madison that might put the community at risk. “Not in my neighborhood” seems to be the response from many citizens in denial when the community is tainted with the reality of the growth of gang activity in Madison.
On this note, a group of University of Wisconsin-Madison social work students wanted to raise awareness in Madison of the prevalent increase in gang activity in Dane County communities. As a group project, they have researched the existence of gangs, their history, their trends and movement that could put children at risk.
On April 23 at Leopold Elementary School, Erin Wearing, Corrina Flannery, Amanda Galaviz, Teresa Rhiel, and Yer Lee, students of Professor Sandy Magana’s Advanced Macro Practice Social Work class, coordinated a community outreach event and informational session. It was presented for parents and educators in the Madison and surrounding communities by the Dane County Youth Gang Prevention Task Force.
Madison Police Detective George Chavez and Officer Lester Moore, along with Frank Rodriquez of the DARK Progam shed some light on the growing activity surrounding gang involvement in this area.

Gangs & School Violence Forum audio and video.

Is Urban Violence a Virus?

Alex Kotlowitz:

THE STUBBORN CORE of violence in American cities is troubling and perplexing. Even as homicide rates have declined across the country — in some places, like New York, by a remarkable amount — gunplay continues to plague economically struggling minority communities. For 25 years, murder has been the leading cause of death among African-American men between the ages of 15 and 34, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has analyzed data up to 2005. And the past few years have seen an uptick in homicides in many cities. Since 2004, for instance, they are up 19 percent in Philadelphia and Milwaukee, 29 percent in Houston and 54 percent in Oakland. Just two weekends ago in Chicago, with the first warm weather, 36 people were shot, 7 of them fatally. The Chicago Sun-Times called it the “weekend of rage.” Many killings are attributed to gang conflicts and are confined to particular neighborhoods. In Chicago, where on average five people were shot each day last year, 83 percent of the assaults were concentrated in half the police districts. So for people living outside those neighborhoods, the frequent outbursts of unrestrained anger have been easy to ignore. But each shooting, each murder, leaves a devastating legacy, and a growing school of thought suggests that there’s little we can do about the entrenched urban poverty if the relentless pattern of street violence isn’t somehow broken.
The traditional response has been more focused policing and longer prison sentences, but law enforcement does little to disrupt a street code that allows, if not encourages, the settling of squabbles with deadly force. Zale Hoddenbach, who works for an organization called CeaseFire, is part of an unusual effort to apply the principles of public health to the brutality of the streets. CeaseFire tries to deal with these quarrels on the front end. Hoddenbach’s job is to suss out smoldering disputes and to intervene before matters get out of hand. His job title is violence interrupter, a term that while not artful seems bluntly self-explanatory. Newspaper accounts usually refer to the organization as a gang-intervention program, and Hoddenbach and most of his colleagues are indeed former gang leaders. But CeaseFire doesn’t necessarily aim to get people out of gangs — nor interrupt the drug trade. It’s almost blindly focused on one thing: preventing shootings.

Schools embracing powers for police
New law allows districts to authorize officers, set policies and obtain law enforcement training

Andy Gammill:

Half a dozen Indiana school boards are considering whether to take on the new responsibility of authorizing police officers.
The move could create a minefield of issues from issuing badges to setting policies. So far, Pike Township Schools may be the only district to use a new law that allows school boards to appoint officers.
Previously, school districts could not grant police powers, although several have long said they have “police departments” that derive authority from a local sheriff or police chief.
In districts that convert, students will see little difference. A badge or uniform may change, but few officers will change duties.
The change affects school boards, which will have greater responsibility for making police policy regarding training, firearms use, police chases and various protocols.
Any school police policy entrusted to mayors and sheriffs would rest with school boards, too.
Pike Township Schools became the first school district to launch its own police department in July. Brownsburg, Center Grove and Indianapolis Public Schools are among those considering the change.

Related: Gangs & School Violence Forum audio / video.

1/8/2008 Madison Event on K-12 School Models

Rafael Gomez is hosting a discussion of school models (traditional, charter, magnet) with Madison School District Superintendent Art Rainwater.
When: 6:30p.m. Tuesday January 8, 2008.
Where:
Covenant Presbyterian Church
318 South Segoe Rd
Madison, WI 53705 [Map]
Background:
Many communities offer a growing number of K-12 educational options. Learn about Madison’s current offerings and the climate for future charter/magnet initiatives.
Format:
Question and Answer
Rafael has hosted a number of previous forums, including those that address:

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.

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 […]

School Crime Data in Madison

Madison Parent: How safe are our schools? This question can’t be answered without consistent collection and analysis of information about violent and disruptive incidents in our schools. While the Madison Police Department has just released its Uniform Crime Report for 2006 (the summary of crime statistics that is reported annually to the FBI), there’s no […]

The State of the City’s Schools

Superintendent Art Rainwater and Madison School Board President Johnny Winston, Jr. discuss the state of Madison’s public schools with Stuart Levitan.Watch the video | MP3 Audio Topics discussed include: School Safety The November 7, 2006 Referendum School funding “Education is not one size fits all” – Johnny during a discussion of the initiatives underway within […]

Crimes & Misdemeanors: High school security chief Wally Baranyk says most of the wrongdoing in suburban high schools goes on in the shadows. So how dark does it get?

Michael Leahy: While much of the rule-breaking at Oakton occurs out of sight from faculty and staff members, insubordination at D.C. schools is more often on public display. “I think our biggest problem here is lack of respect by kids for teachers and adults and for other kids,” says Michael Ilwain, a school resource officer […]

New Dane County Gangs Task Force

Channel3000: Concerns about the growth of street gangs in the Madison area are prompting authorities to create a new task force that will target Dane County’s top gang leaders and drug dealers, WISC-TV reported. Federal, state, and local police will play a key role in the new gang unit. There’s a great deal being planned […]

Presentation on Gangs & School Violence

Gangs and School Violence Presentation Wednesday, September 21, 2005 7:00p.m. to 8:00p.m. Organized by volunteers from www.schoolinfosystem.org McDaniels Auditorium Doyle Administration Building 545 W. Dayton St. Madison, WI 53703 Directions Discussion Topics: 1) Has the gang issue changed over the past 10 years? 2) What have we learned from our initiatives? 3) What partnerships are […]

Madison Teacher Safety: Going to Court

WKOWTVWKOW-TV [Watch Video | mp3 Audio]:

February 13 became a tense day in two, separate Madison schools.
Police reports show a fifteen year old student at Memorial High School became angry with special education teacher Tim Droster. Another staff member told officers the student made motions to mimic the act of shooting Droster. The student was arrested.
At Cherokee Heights Middle School, police reports show a thirteen year old student reacted to being denied laptop computer priveleges by posing this question to special education assistant Becky Buchmann: “Did you want me to gun you down?” Juvenile court records show the student had previously shot an acquaintance with a BB gun, and Madison Teachers Inc. (MTI) information stated the student had also brought a BB gun to school and had gang affiliation.
Buchmann went to court and obtained a restraining order against the student.
Droster worked through school officials and his threatening student was given a different school schedule and new conduct rules.
Attorney Jordan Loeb has represented teachers seeking restraining orders to protect themselves in the classroom. “It’s controversial,” Loeb told 27 News.
But Loeb said teachers are no different than someone from any other walk of life when it comes to needing the authority of a judge to insure a threatening person does not cause harm.
“When it’s your safety on the line, you have to do everything you believe is necessary to keep yourself safe.”
Loeb estimated an average of ten teachers and other school staff members per year over the past decade have obtained restraining orders against threatening students and adults in Dane County courts.
But school district statistics show a more than five fold increase in teacher and staff injuries caused by students in the past three years.
In 2003, of 532 injury reports submitted by teachers and staff members, 29 were the result of student assaults.
In 2006, 540 teacher and staff injury reports involved 153 student assaults.
School district spokesperson Ken Syke said the most recent student assault numbers may be inflated by the inclusion of teacher injuries incidental to fights between students.

Related:

Written Off

Amber Walker: Reese’s experience raises broader questions about what information is shared between MMSD and the Dane County Juvenile Court when it comes to youth in their care. While the district insists it was an isolated incident, juvenile court staff, like Smedema and her supervisor, Suzanne Stute, said collecting statements from school staff is a […]

Local groups speak out against Teacher Protection Act

Amber Walker: Several groups assembled at the state Capitol on Thursday to speak out against a bill that would require police departments to inform school administrators if a student is taken into custody for a felony or violent misdemeanor. The bill would also give teachers the right to appeal directly to the school board if […]

East High Principal Allen Harris Profile

Sandy Cullen: You can tell something’s different at East High School this year without even going inside. Gone is the “smoking wall,” where for generations, students gathered to hang out and smoke cigarettes before and during the school day. “It was intimidating,” said parent Lucy Mathiak, who admits she was uncomfortable walking past the large […]

Local Gang Prevention Task Force

Bill Novak: “Larger numbers of young people are joining gangs, including more girls,” Falk said, highlighting information in a new report by the Dane County Youth Prevention Task Force. “We are renewing our efforts to help keep young people from joining gangs.” Stephen Blue, delinquency services manager and co-chair of the task force, said about […]

Madison Leaders Discuss Gang Issue Saturday

Channel3000: “In the 80s, we had African-American gangs really hit the scene here in Madison,” said Madison Police Chief Noble Wray. “But what we’re looking at today is that we have more young ladies involved in gangs, we have Asian gangs, and a real increase in Latino gangs.” Dane County Executive Assistant Ken Haynes said […]

Wes Daily on the Gang Phenomenon

Wes Daily emailed a few comments on Gangs: Gangs are not a new phenomenon in the United States and were originally formed as social clubs and a means of self-protection. Today, gangs have evolved into violent predators focused on obtaining money and power. According to the National Drug intelligence Center (NDIC), there are at least […]

The Gang Scene in Madison

Doug Erickson takes a useful look around Madison’s gang scene, including the recent events in Oregon. Erickson also mentions this Wednesday’s SIS supported event, lead by Rafael Gomez on Gangs and School Violence (9.21 @ 7:00p.m.): “It sets a watershed mark for the number of individuals involved in one event,” said Stephen Blue, who has […]

Wisconsin State Journal Removes This Story

The Madison School District’s Ken Syke via email:

Jim,
I’ve been made aware of the entry on the School Info Systems site about La Follette student taking gun to school. That story has been retracted by madison.com and thus the story excerpt on the the SIS site is not supported any longer. It’s our understanding that this madison.com story will remain retracted.
Thus we request that the story excerpt be pulled from the School Info Systems site.
Thank you.

I phoned (608) 252-6120 the Wisconsin State Journal (part of Capital Newspapers, which owns madison.com) and spoke with Jason (I did not ask his last name) today at about 2:20p.m. I asked about the status of this story [Dane County Case Number: 2010CF001460, Police call data via Crime Reports COMMUNITY POLICING 03 Sep 2010 1 BLOCK ASH ST Distance: 0 miles Identifier: 201000252977 Suspicious Vehicle Agency: City of Madison]. He spoke with another person, returned to the phone and said that a police officer phoned the reporter, Sandy Cullen and said the report she mentioned was incorrect. They then took the article down. I asked him to email me this summary, which I will post upon receipt.
Links from the original post:
Related:

Madison West High gang incident raises specter of retaliation

Sandy Cullen:

An armed altercation Friday outside West High School involving known and suspected members of two street gangs involved in an April homicide heightened concerns of possible retaliation, police and school officials said Tuesday.
Sgt. Amy Schwartz, who leads the Madison Police Department’s Crime Prevention Gang Unit, said it is not known if members of the South Side Carnales gang went to the high school looking for members of the rival Clanton 14, or C-14 gang.
But staff at West and the city’s three other main high schools and two middle schools were told Tuesday to determine if safety plans are needed for any students who might be at risk, said Luis Yudice, security coordinator for the Madison School District.
Police have not notified the School District of a specific threat against any student, Yudice said.
But authorities have been concerned about possible retaliation since the April 28 shooting death of Antonio Perez, 19, who police say founded Madison’s C-14 gang several years ago while he was a high school student. Five people, who police say are associated with the South Side Carnales and MS-13 gangs, are charged in Perez’s slaying. Two of them remain at large.

Related: Gangs & School Violence Forum audio / video.
A kind reader noted this quote from the article:

“But authorities have been concerned about possible retaliation since the April 28 shooting death of Antonio Perez, 19, who police say founded Madison’s C-14 gang several years ago while he was a high school student.”

Much more here.
Sgt. Amy Schwartz, who leads the Madison Police Department’s Crime Prevention Gang Unit, said it is not known if members of the South Side Carnales gang went to the high school looking for members of the rival Clanton 14, or C-14 gang.
But staff at West and the city’s three other main high schools and two middle schools were told Tuesday to determine if safety plans are needed for any students who might be at risk, said Luis Yudice, security coordinator for the Madison School District.
Police have not notified the School District of a specific threat against any student, Yudice said.
But authorities have been concerned about possible retaliation since the April 28 shooting death of Antonio Perez, 19, who police say founded Madison’s C-14 gang several years ago while he was a high school student. Five people, who police say are associated with the South Side Carnales and MS-13 gangs, are charged in Perez’s slaying. Two of them remain at large.

Related: Gangs & School Violence Forum audio / video.
A kind reader noted this quote from the article:

“But authorities have been concerned about possible retaliation since the April 28 shooting death of Antonio Perez, 19, who police say founded Madison’s C-14 gang several years ago while he was a high school student.”

Gang activity in Madison often flies under public radar

Wisconsin State Journal:

A few years ago, a Madison gang targeted a prominent detective for murder. That plot failed. But police say gangs have been responsible for at least three murders in the last three years.
Although there are now more than 1,100 gang members in the Madison area, they’re not always visible. Nor is the connection between gangs and crime. Regardless, police and social workers say the gang problem here is real and they’re actively trying to combat it.

Gangs & School violence forum audio / video.

‘Everything for the children’

Tatiana Pina:

The moment of truth for Ivan and Olga Rojas came in 2008, when their son Esteban finished his sophomore year at the Blackstone Academy Charter School in Pawtucket and told his parents he wanted to transfer to Central Falls High School. The thought alarmed them. The high school had been under-performing for years, and Esteban’s mother feared there were gangs and drugs at the school.
For Blanca Giraldo the reckoning came in February 2009, when Central Falls High School Principal Elizabeth Legault sent a letter asking her to come to the school. Legault told Giraldo that her daughter Valerie Florez was failing: she was frequently late, skipping class and not doing her work.
For Jackie Wilson, a random act of violence forced her to uproot her daughter Sakira during her junior year at Central Falls High.

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:

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:

Police, sheriff’s units tackle growing Seattle-area gang problem

Jennifer Sullivan & Lauren Vane:

Tearing through the winding streets of the Central Area and Rainier Valley at 70 mph last Friday night, Seattle gang detectives Jim Dyment and Tom Mooney experienced an unsettling déjà vu — it was the third shooting they had responded to in a week.
As they drew near the scene of a drive-by shooting, Dyment and Mooney saw a group of officers gathered around five teens who sat handcuffed on a sidewalk in the Rainier Beach neighborhood. The hands of two teens were eventually wrapped in brown-paper sacks to protect any telltale gunpowder residue.
Dyment, a sergeant who has spent years investigating drugs, prostitutes and youth violence, muttered to no one in particular: “Being a gangster is a young man’s sport.”
And chasing gang members is becoming a full-time priority for police officers and sheriff’s deputies throughout the Puget Sound region, where authorities say gang membership is surging. From graffiti spray-painted on a mailbox in Kent’s West Hill neighborhood to recent shootings at area shopping malls, police say crimes associated with gangs appear to be on the upswing.

Gangs & School Violence Forum.