Category Archives: Discipline / Violence

Library Visit, Then Held at Gunpoint

Charles Blow:

Saturday evening, I got a call that no parent wants to get. It was my son calling from college — he’s a third-year student at Yale. He had been accosted by a campus police officer, at gunpoint!

This is how my son remembers it:

He left for the library around 5:45 p.m. to check the status of a book he had requested. The book hadn’t arrived yet, but since he was there he put in a request for some multimedia equipment for a project he was working on.

Peshawar massacre: Pakistan replies with ‘weaponised’ teaching


Following last month’s Taliban school massacre, Pakistan is allowing teachers to carry weapons. The BBC’s Shahzeb Jillani visits a school in Peshawar where staff are now serving as armed guards.

On a cloudy morning in January, Mohammed Iqbal is conducting a rare physical fitness class inside the courtyard of Government Higher Secondary School Number 1. The sprawling campus of the all-boys school is one of the biggest and oldest government institutions in Peshawar.

The school has a large playground for sports activities. But it’s not been much in use since the Taliban massacre at the nearby Army Public School, which killed about 150 people, mostly children.

Until that atrocity, Mr Iqbal’s main job was to plan sports activities for his pupils. He now doubles as the school’s chief security officer, with a gun tucked under his long shirt.

“It’s my personal gun which I have started carrying with me to school,” he says as he pulls out a 9mm Beretta pistol.

Chicago gave hundreds of high-risk kids a summer job. Violent crime arrests plummeted.

Emily Badger:

Research on the program conducted by the University of Chicago Crime Lab and just published in the journal Science suggests that these summer jobs have actually had such an effect: Students who were randomly assigned to participate in the program had 43 percent fewer violent-crime arrests over 16 months, compared to students in a control group.

That number is striking for a couple of reasons: It implies that a relatively short (and inexpensive) intervention like an eight-week summer jobs program can have a lasting effect on teenage behavior. And it lends empirical support to a popular refrain by advocates: “Nothing stops a bullet like a job.”

Researcher Sara Heller conducted a randomized control trial with the program, in partnership with the city. The study included 1,634 teens at 13 high schools. They were, on average, C students, almost all of them eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. Twenty percent of the group had already been arrested, and 20 percent had already been victims of crime.

A Retired Teacher on “Utter Chaos”

Matt Rooney:

Go ahead and watch this jaw-dropping Choice Media interview with retired John F. Kennedy High School metal shop teacher Lee McNulty, Save Jerseyans, and then reflect upon the fact that New Jersey taxpayers are spending, on average, $20,454 per K-12 student in Paterson this year.

The economic impact of school suspensions

Lucia Graves:

Tiambrya Jenkins was just 14 years old when she got into a fistfight that would change the course of her educational trajectory. Following an after-school scuffle between Jenkins and a white classmate, the two girls—both freshmen at Rome High School in Georgia—were transferred to an alternative school as punishment. Her white classmate was allowed to return to their original school after 90 days. But Jenkins spent the rest of the year at the transitional academy, a place she describes as more like prison than school. “It was really, really boring. You just sat there all day until the bell rang,” she says. “They didn’t teach us anything.”

At the academy, minor missteps such as talking out of turn or violating the dress code were used as reasons to delay a student’s return to high school, Jenkins says. Simple organizational mistakes like showing up late or forgetting class materials were seen as acts of defiance and could turn the clock back to zero on a student’s 90 days at the transitional academy. After forgetting her notebook one day and suffering the consequences, Jenkins began stashing spares in an abandoned house across the street from the school, “just in case.”

Two years later, Jenkins is back at her old high school, but she still feels hopelessly behind. Once a top math student, she’ll be lucky to achieve a passing mark in advanced algebra this year. “I don’t even know what we’re learning,” Jenkins says. “The teacher, she’ll be teaching something, and I don’t even know what it is. I just see a bunch of numbers on the board.”

Much more on discipline and school violence, here.

Deadly Force, in Black and White

by Ryan Gabrielson, Ryann Grochowski Jones and Eric Sagara:

Young black males in recent years were at a far greater risk of being shot dead by police than their white counterparts – 21 times greater i, according to a ProPublica analysis of federally collected data on fatal police shootings.

The 1,217 deadly police shootings from 2010 to 2012 captured in the federal data show that blacks, age 15 to 19, were killed at a rate of 31.17 per million, while just 1.47 per million white males in that age range died at the hands of police.

One way of appreciating that stark disparity, ProPublica’s analysis shows, is to calculate how many more whites over those three years would have had to have been killed for them to have been at equal risk. The number is jarring – 185, more than one per week.

ProPublica’s risk analysis on young males killed by police certainly seems to support what has been an article of faith in the African American community for decades: Blacks are being killed at disturbing rates when set against the rest of the American population.

Our examination involved detailed accounts of more than 12,000 police homicides stretching from 1980 to 2012 contained in the FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Report. The data, annually self-reported by hundreds of police departments across the country, confirms some assumptions, runs counter to others, and adds nuance to a wide range of questions about the use of deadly police force.

Dangerous Places for Girls’ Education

Rebecca Winthrop and Eileen McGivney:

This week, we’re focusing on the challenges facing millions of marginalized girls who can’t access a safe, high-quality education. Yesterday we explored the data on enrollment, child marriage and attacks against girls’ education and identified hotspots—areas where girls do not have the same access to education as boys. Today, we have a top 10 list that you don’t want to be on—especially if you’re a girl.

Our data points to 10 countries in the world where girls are especially struggling to get an education, sometimes literally risking their lives to do so. These hotspots are characterized by far fewer girls than boys enrolled in secondary school, high rates of child marriage, and attacks on girls’ education. So while girls’ education has been a success story in many parts of the globe, in these countries girls are still severely disadvantaged.

A boy was accused of taking a backpack. The courts took the next three years of his life.

Jennifer Gonerman:

In the early hours of Saturday, May 15, 2010, ten days before his seventeenth birthday, Kalief Browder and a friend were returning home from a party in the Belmont section of the Bronx. They walked along Arthur Avenue, the main street of Little Italy, past bakeries and cafés with their metal shutters pulled down for the night. As they passed East 186th Street, Browder saw a police car driving toward them. More squad cars arrived, and soon Browder and his friend found themselves squinting in the glare of a police spotlight. An officer said that a man had just reported that they had robbed him. “I didn’t rob anybody,” Browder replied. “You can check my pockets.”

The officers searched him and his friend but found nothing. As Browder recalls, one of the officers walked back to his car, where the alleged victim was, and returned with a new story: the man said that they had robbed him not that night but two weeks earlier. The police handcuffed the teens and pressed them into the back of a squad car. “What am I being charged for?” Browder asked. “I didn’t do anything!” He remembers an officer telling them, “We’re just going to take you to the precinct. Most likely you can go home.” Browder whispered to his friend, “Are you sure you didn’t do anything?” His friend insisted that he hadn’t.

At the Forty-eighth Precinct, the pair were fingerprinted and locked in a holding cell. A few hours later, when an officer opened the door, Browder jumped up: “I can leave now?” Instead, the teens were taken to Central Booking at the Bronx County Criminal Court.

Bad behavior is the elephant in the classroom

Tom Bennett:

Finally, Ofsted address one of the most serious impediments to children’s learning in the UK: low-level disruption. It’s amazing how much time and money is invested in poking through the grisly entrails of neuroscience, cognitive psychology and school structures in order to establish how we can squeeze a carat or two more gold out of the school goose’s ileum, when there’s piles of the stuff to be scooped up elsewhere.

Behaviour. It’s always been about behaviour. From the day I stepped into a classroom, the biggest obstacle I faced in getting students from average A to brilliant B was how they behaved, or didn’t. My first day, a student started dealing skunk at the back of the room; by the end of it, someone had told me to f*** Off, twice (and that was just the head, ho ho). But they weren’t the biggest problems for teaching; the Kryptonite for learning was the low-evel stuff – the chatting, the sullen refusals, the phones, the rocking, the headphones, paper-throwing. Everything that doesn’t look like anything special in description, but collectively erodes the lesson like a universal solvent.

I’ve been writing about this since before the first incarnation of Noel Edmonds. I’ve been running the TES behaviour forum for almost six years, and working with hundreds of schools, coaching, training and advising on behaviour. And this report is spot-on.

San Diego’s School District Now Has a Military-Grade Armored Truck Share Tweet

John Dyer:

South Africa deployed them en masse for the first time during the apartheid era. The United States left some behind in Iraq, allowing the Islamic State militants to seize them in their reign of terror. Now, the San Diego Unified School District has one too.

Yes, we’re talking about armored military trucks, designed to withstand land mines and improvised exploding devices, or IEDs.

On Wednesday, news that the school district’s police department recently acquired a 14-ton mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle, or an M-RAP, caused a stir in San Diego. The school district’s police force, which employs real cops but is separate from the city’s police department, received the truck for free from the same federal program that gave military equipment to the Ferguson, Missouri police and other cities around the country. The district spent $5,000 shipping the thing from Texas.

San Diego School Board Trustee Scott Barnett said the police didn’t ask whether they could have the vehicle. If they had asked, he would have argued against it. The schools need to keep kids safe, he said, but educating students is their primary mission. He thought the M-RAP was overkill.

Compton, California School Board Approves AR-15 Rifles for Campus Police

Conor Friedersdorf:

The school board in Compton, California, has voted to arm campus police officers with AR-15 rifles, according to the Los Angeles public radio station KPPC. Some parents and students are expressing discomfort, citing the same sorts of concerns sparked by the militarized police force of Ferguson, Missouri. In Compton, the local police union says its officers are hardly alone in seeking such weapons:

Currently, the following School Districts authorize their Police Officers to deploy these weapons; Los Angeles School PD, Baldwin Park School PD, Santa Ana School PD, Fontana School PD, San Bernandino School PD.

The police union goes on to defend the semi-automatic rifle for campus police officers:

Abnormal brain structure in youth who commit homicide.

Cope LM1, Ermer E2, Gaudet LM3, Steele VR1, Eckhardt AL1, Arbabshirani MR1, Caldwell MF4, Calhoun VD1, Kiehl KA1.:

Violence that leads to homicide results in an extreme financial and emotional burden on society. Juveniles who commit homicide are often tried in adult court and typically spend the majority of their lives in prison. Despite the enormous costs associated with homicidal behavior, there have been no serious neuroscientific studies examining youth who commit homicide.

Here we use neuroimaging and voxel-based morphometry to examine brain gray matter in incarcerated male adolescents who committed homicide (n = 20) compared with incarcerated offenders who did not commit homicide (n = 135). Two additional control groups were used to understand further the nature of gray matter differences: incarcerated offenders who did not commit homicide matched on important demographic and psychometric variables (n = 20) and healthy participants from the community (n = 21).

The Prison Boom and the Lack of Black Progress after Smith and Welch

Derek Neal, Armin Rick:

More than two decades ago, Smith and Welch (1989) used the 1940 through 1980 census files to document important relative black progress. However, recent data indicate that this progress did not continue, at least among men. The growth of incarceration rates among black men in recent decades combined with the sharp drop in black employment rates during the Great Recession have left most black men in a position relative to white men that is really no better than the position they occupied only a few years after the Civil Rights Act of 1965. A move toward more punitive treatment of arrested offenders drove prison growth in recent decades, and this trend is evident among arrested offenders in every major crime category. Changes in the severity of corrections policies have had a much larger impact on black communities than white communities because arrest rates have historically been much greater for blacks than whites.

Impatient children are more likely to become lawbreakers

The Economist:

IN HIS “Odyssey”, Homer immortalised the idea of resisting temptation by having the protagonist tied to the mast of his ship, to hear yet not succumb to the beautiful, dangerous songs of the Sirens. Researchers have long been intrigued as to whether this ability to avoid, or defer, gratification is related to outcomes in life. The best-known test is the “marshmallow” experiment, in which children who could refrain from eating the confection for 15 minutes were given a second one. Children who could not wait tended to have lower incomes and poorer health as adults. New research suggests that kids who are unable to delay rewards are also more likely to become criminals later.

David Akerlund, Hans Gronqvist and Lena Lindahl of Stockholm University and Bart Golsteyn of Maastricht University used data from a Swedish survey in which more than 13,000 children aged 13 were asked whether they would prefer to receive $140 now or $1,400 in five years’ time. About four-fifths of them said they were prepared to wait.

Study: Half of black males, 40 percent of white males arrested by age 23

Peggy Binette:

Nearly half of black males and almost 40 percent of white males in the U.S. are arrested by age 23, which can hurt their ability to find work, go to school and participate fully in their communities.

A new study released Monday (Jan. 6) in the journal Crime & Delinquency provides the first contemporary findings on how the risk of arrest varies across race and gender, says Robert Brame, a criminology professor at the University of South Carolina and lead author of the study.

The study is an analysis of national survey data from 1997 to 2008 of teenagers and young adults, ages 18

Why the cool kids from middle school may have trouble down the line

Aisha Sultan:

It was, of course, a popular mean girl who made my life miserable in middle school.

She made a point to ask me, in front of whatever audience she could rally around her, if I had attended the big party from the weekend. (I never had.) If I had found a boyfriend. (Nope.) If even I had a clue about the fantastic life she and her friends led. (Not really.)

While her needling seemed like the end of the world when I was 11 and 12, it taught me to have a great deal of compassion for the marginalized as I grew up. I’ve wondered what happened to my young tormentor as the years passed. A new study out of the University of Virginia suggests she should have been nicer.

Published last month in the journal of Child Development, it followed the “cool kids” from middle school for a decade. It’s true what they say about peaking too young. The socially precocious teens in middle school fell lower on the social hierarchy by high school. And in their early 20s, they had more problems with drugs and alcohol, more trouble with the law and were less competent in their friendships.

What’s surprising is that the middle school “fast-track,” as measured in this study, seems tame compared to the images put forth in current pop culture. One of the markers identified middle schoolers who reported becoming seriously romantically involved at this age, as in making out with a boyfriend or girlfriend but not going further than that.

Burning Down the House : The End of Juvenile Prison

Jessica Pishko:

WHEN the Center for Investigative Reporting recently visited the Santa Cruz County Juvenile Hall — widely considered one of the best juvenile detention centers in the country — they found remarkably prison-like conditions, ranging from the bare, concrete walls to the use of solitary confinement as a method of disciplining youth. There are currently no federal or state laws that regulate the use of solitary confinement for juvenile offenders, despite overwhelming evidence of its harmful effects. But the abuses don’t stop there. A 2012 report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, a division of the Department of Justice, determined that youth held in adult prison facilities suffered less instances of sexual violence than their peers in juvenile facilities. And in some facilities, the rate of juvenile recidivism is over 80 percent, meaning that the bulk of these young people will eventually add to the burgeoning prison population.

There seems to be a consensus that the prison system as a whole isn’t working, and this is particularly true when it comes to juvenile detention. The United States incarcerates more young people under the age of 18 than any other industrialized country in the world. (By comparison, South Africa, our closest competitor, incarcerates its youth at one-fifth the rate of the United States.) Most juveniles who are sent to these facilities are from racial minorities. Many of them suffer abuses in prison that are heinous for adults and potentially ruinous for youth — solitary confinement, rape, repeated physical abuse, deprivation of sunlight, insufficient food and affection. Perhaps worst of all, children leave these facilities with additional traumas under their belts and no promise that their outside lives will improve.

And yet, despite protestations from all political parties that our society values children, despite the proliferation of New York Times bestsellers on how to raise children, despite growing scientific evidence that the confinement of adolescents may profoundly stunt their brain development, despite the fact that juvenile crime is steadily declining, change has not followed. Why?

Dads on patrol provide positive example in classrooms

Dannika Lewis:

Usually when we think about the parent heading to a PTO meeting, our minds go to moms, but a program in Sun Prarie schools is trying to change that.

They’re called WatchDOGS, DOGS standing for “Dads Of Great Students.”

Every morning at Horizon Elementary School, Principal Rainey Briggs introduces the men who came in for the day to look after the halls and participate in classrooms to the entire student body.

Briggs said the program has grown to be so popular that they had to add days when dads come in.

“It gives us another set of eyes in the building. It gives us another person in the classroom who really wants to be that positive role model for kids from a male’s perspective,” Briggs said.

Child bullying victims still suffering at 50 – study


Children who are bullied can still experience negative effects on their physical and mental health more than 40 years later, say researchers from King’s College London.

Their study tracked 7,771 children born in 1958 from the age of seven until 50.

Those bullied frequently as children were at an increased risk of depression and anxiety, and more likely to report a lower quality of life at 50.

Anti-bullying groups said people needed long-term support after being bullied.

A previous study, from Warwick University, tracked more than 1,400 people between the ages of nine and 26 and found that bullying had long-term negative consequences for health, job prospects and relationships.

When one New Zealand school tossed its playground rules and let students risk injury, the results were surprising

Sarah Boesveld:

It was a meeting Principal Bruce McLachlan awaited with dread.

One of the 500 students at Swanson School in a northwest borough of Auckland had just broken his arm on the playground, and surely the boy’s parent, who had requested this face-to-face chat with its headmaster, was out for blood.

It had been mere months since the gregarious principal threw out the rulebook on the playground of concrete and mud, dotted with tall trees and hidden corners; just weeks since he had stopped reprimanding students who whipped around on their scooters or wielded sticks in play sword fights.

He knew children might get hurt, and that was exactly the point — perhaps if they were freed from the “cotton-wool” in which their 21st century parents had them swaddled, his students may develop some resilience, use their imaginations, solve problems on their own.

The parent sat down, stone-faced, across from the principal.

“‘My son broke his arm in the playground, and I just want to make sure…” he began.

“And I’m thinking ‘Oh my God, what’s going to happen?’” Mr. McLachlan recalled, sitting in his “fishbowl” of an office one hot Friday afternoon last month.

The parent continued: “I just wanted to make sure you don’t change this play environment, because kids break their arms.”

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Managing Corrections Costs

National Conference of State Legislators:

States will spend $40 billion to incarcerate and supervise offenders in fiscal year (FY) 2014, according to the National Confer- ence of State Legislatures’ (NCSL) State Budget Actions: FY 2013 & 2014. This is a modest 2.5 percent increase over FY 2013 costs, with cor- rections a shrinking portion of overall state spending. In a growing number of states, legisla- tures have enacted policy shifts that make more effective use of corrections dollars but that also remain attentive to public safety.

Forty states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico budgeted more in general funds for correc- tions in FY 2014 than in the previous fiscal year (Figure 1, on page 4). Only six states—Con- necticut, Maine, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota and Oklahoma—and Puerto Rico in- 40 creased spending by more than 5 percent. Nine states—Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nevada, 35 New Mexico, Ohio, Rhode Island, Virginia and 30 Wyoming—budgeted to spend less in the cur- rent fiscal year. Decreases range from .2 percent 25 in New Mexico to 8.4 percent in Wyoming. 20 Spending in New Jersey remains unchanged.

Florida Teen Charged with Felony for trying Science

The Urban Scientist, Scientific American
News of Kiera Wilmot’s arrest has seriously unnerved me. She is the Florida high school student who was experimenting with common household chemicals in science class that resulted in a minor explosion. There were no injuries and no damage to school property; however, she was taken away in handcuffs, formally arrested and expulled from school.
I acknowledge that too little information has been provided on the case. We have NO idea what was happening in the class. Where was the teacher? Were students involved in a laboratory activity at the time? I have spent time in the high school classroom. I know the shenanigans (and havoc) these pre-adults can cause. It is no laughing matter. Even if this were a prank, say something akin to my generation’s idea of setting off smoke bombs in the hall during the passing of classes, my gut reaction stands.
I don’t like what our public education (and justice) systems do to urban youth (e.g. the discipline gap with Black kids). I worry about urban kids who don’t (tend) to have access to social capital that advocates for them and gives them a chance after stupid mistakes. I worry what this will mean to her family financially. What will it mean for her future? Will graduating from an alternative school prevent her from attending college? Will she be marked as a trouble maker? Will she have a criminal record that prevents her from gainful employment and a meaningful life? More immediately, will she get locked away for 20 years? Shit like that happens to kids who look like her.

How much is that rowdy kid interfering with your child’s learning?

Daniel Willingham
Anyone who has spent much time in classrooms has the sense that just a couple of disorderly kids can really disrupt learning for everyone. These kids distract the other students, and the teacher must allocate a disproportionate amount of attention to them to keep them on task.
Obvious though this point seems, there have been surprisingly few studies of just how high a cost disruptive kids exact on the learning of others.
Lori Skibbe and her colleagues have just published an interesting study on the subject.
Skibbe measured self-regulation in 445 1st graders, using the standard head-toes-knees-shoulders (HTKS) task. In this task, children must first follow the instructors direction (“Touch your toes. Now touch your shoulders.”) In a second phase, they were instructed to do the opposite of what the instructor said–when told to touch their toes, they were to touch their head, for example. This is a well-known measure of self regulation in children this age (e.g., Ponitz et al., 2008).
Researchers also evaluated the growth over the first grade year in children’s literacy skills, using two subtests from the Woodcock-Johnson: Passage Comprehension and Picture Vocabulary.
We would guess that children’s growth in literacy would be related to their self-regulation skill (as measured by their HTKS score). What Skibbe et al showed is that the class average HTKS score also predicts how much an individual child will learn, even after you statistically account for that child’s HTKS score. (Researchers also accounted for the school-wide percentage of kids qualifying for free or reduced lunch, as academic growth might covary with self-regulation as due to SES differences.)

Paul Vallas, a School Reform Town Hall May 26 2012

Paul Vallas at LaFollette Video

School reform superintendent Paul Vallas spoke at LaFollette High School at the behest of Boys and Girls Club of Dane County CEO Michael Johnson. The two and a half hour presentation with question and answer periods as attended by about 100 people in the LaFollette Auditorium.
Paul Vallas has been the Superintendent of schools in Chicago (CPS), Philadelphia, New Orleans, and currently Bridgeport Connecticut. He is currently hired to improve the schools in both Chile and Haiti, and has been praised in two State of the Union addresses. His work as a superintendent has engendered both strong support and strong disagreement.
The two and a half hour meeting has been divided into five clips and I have tried to summarize comments made by Paul Vallas, the panel and the audience members who spoke.

Remove troublemakers from Milwaukee classrooms

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Milwaukee Public Schools Superintendent Gregory Thornton believes the best way to deal with youth violence, at least in the short term, is to take troublemakers out of regular schools and place them into alternative schools.
We agree. But there are not enough seats for the growing number of chronically disruptive youth, which is why the School Board should grant Thornton’s request, coming in April, to fund more of those seats.
During the past two weeks, more than 20 students were arrested for fighting and disorderly conduct at Washington and Madison High Schools. Several Milwaukee police officers were injured during the incidents, including one officer who was kicked in the face by an 18-year-old.
Over the years, MPS has limited the number of violent incidents. But Thornton said MPS has been limited to Band-Aid approaches, and the recent uptick in violence is ominous.
Last year alone, the district spent about $10 million on safety measures, which included having additional security guards and metal detectors on every door at some schools. For a cash-strapped school district, that money would be better used on instruction.

Madness: Even School Children Are Being Pepper-Sprayed and Shocked with Tasers

Rania Khalek:

There is something truly disturbing about a society that seeks to control the behavior of schoolchildren through fear and violence, a tactic that harkens back to an era of paddle-bruised behinds and ruler-slapped wrists. Yet, some American school districts are pushing the boundaries of corporal punishment even further with the use of Tasers against unruly schoolchildren.
The deployment of Tasers against “problem” students coincides with the introduction of police officers on school campuses, also known as School Resource Officers (SROs). According to the Los Angeles Times, as of 2009, the number of SROs carrying Tasers was well over 4,000.
As far back as 1988, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, National Congress of Parents and Teachers, American Medical Association, National Education Association, American Bar Association, and American Academy of Pediatrics recognized that inflicting pain and fear upon disobedient children is far more harmful than helpful. Yet, we continue to do it with disturbing results, despite mountains of evidence of more effective methods of discipline.

How Peaceful is Camden?

New Jersey Left Behind:

The Courier-Post is all over Camden Public Schools’ failure to accurately report incidents of violence and vandalism. (See earlier story here.) Each year, per state mandate, districts file reports with the State DOE listing rates of violence and then the State reports out to the Legislature. While there has been a 6.4% increase in violent incidents (some of this, no doubt, attributable to the new Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying legislation), Camden Public Schools appears to be a land of milk and honey: there were only 29 incidents all of last year and only 35 for 2010-2011.
Among other districts in the area “almost 30 districts reported more violent incidents than Camden – including Audobon, Cherry Hill, Cinnaminson, and Washington Township.”

School Police Have Uncertain Impact On Student Arrests, Crime Prevention

Radley Balko:

A headline-generating study, published in the journal Pediatrics this week, suggests that approximately one in three Americans is arrested before age 23. That’s up from about one in five in 1965, the last time a similar study was conducted. The study used data from surveys given to the 7,335 people who enrolled in the federal government’s National Longitudinal Survey of Youth in 1996.
This study, a recent joint initiative between the Departments of Justice and Education and a spate of anecdotal stories in the news all suggest a surge in the arrests of minors, and particularly in arrests that originate in schools. But the federal government is both fighting the “school-to-prison” pipeline while continuing to fund the same programs that critics say are causing it. Moreover, because the government hasn’t been collecting data on school-based arrests, and the little available data shows overall arrests of juveniles are down, it’s difficult to determine if a problem exists, much less whether federal initiatives are solving it — or contributing to it.

Do schools conceal violent incidents and threats to avoid negative press and parent outrage?

Maureen Downey:

Among the extended family I saw over the holiday was a young relative who is working as a substitute teacher in the Northeast since he can’t find a full-time teaching post. He shared a story that surprised me, and I wanted to run it by folks here.
He was subbing at a low-performing high school that recently had a well-publicized stabbing. A student in his class pulled what he thought was a real gun on him, and they had a standoff for several minutes until the teen put the “gun” away and the teacher tackled him to the floor. It turned out the gun was a toy, and the student received a three-day suspension for the incident.
The substitute teacher was disappointed with the punishment, but said the school wanted to prevent another round of negative press.
Would such an incident be kept quiet in Georgia? Could it go so easily unreported under zero tolerance policies in which students can get suspended for Tweety Bird key chains?

What other school districts are doing (security) around the country

Susan Snyder:

Of the nation’s 10 largest cities, eight use armed police in some form. And in the ninth city, New York, officers receive far more training and scrutiny prior to hiring.
Five of those city school districts – San Diego, Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio – employ their own police officers, who receive comparable training to regular city police.
Chicago, Phoenix, and the San Jose Unified School District base city police officers in some of their buildings. In the case of San Jose, the officers are not in uniform, but rather dress casually in polo shirts and conceal their weapons.
In New York – the nation’s largest school system – the city police department’s school-safety division staffs the schools with unarmed officers who receive 14 weeks of training, intensive background scrutiny, and drug and character screening. (Armed precinct-based officers, however, also come into the schools.)
The nation’s largest cities are by no means alone.
The Council of the Great City Schools, a coalition of large urban districts, surveyed members in 2004 and found that 29 of 37 respondents indicated its officers were armed. Las Vegas, Miami, and Indianapolis are among other bigger districts with their own police forces.

Parents of jailed Mississippi teens say they may sue

Henry Bailey:

The parents of three 15-year-olds who were strip-searched and jailed for three days after a trespassing charge expressed outrage Thursday during a press conference and called for the removal of Tate County Youth Court referee Leigh Ann Darby.
“If we don’t stand up for our rights, no one else will,” Dexter Burton of Senatobia, father of Lakiya Burton, told reporters at the Church of Christ at 401 W. Gilmore.
The three youths, who had not previously been identified because of their ages, were at the gathering with their parents and the families’ attorney, J. Cliff Johnson II of Jackson. They are Larandra Wright of Southaven, and Lakiya Burton and Kevonta Mack, both of Senatobia.
Burton and Mack are 10th-graders at Senatobia High School; Wright is a 10th-grader at Southaven High. None had prior brushes with the law before they crossed a renter’s yard at a duplex that faces Morgan Drive in Senatobia this summer.

More on student discipline in Oakland — and a list of suspension-free schools

Katy Murphy:

According to statistics provided by the Oakland school district (and crunched by your devoted education reporter):
TOTAL SUSPENSIONS in 2010-11: 6,137
DEFIANCE (“disruption/defy authority”) was the basis for 43 percent of all suspensions.
BLACK MALES made up less than 20 percent of all students in OUSD, but received about half of the suspensions.
At least two of the schools had more suspensions than students: Barack Obama Academy and Youth Empowerment School. YES (on the King Estates campus) closed in June, and Barack Obama Academy, an alternative middle school that opened on the Toler Heights campus in 2007, is slated to merge with Community Day.

Zero-tolerance policies pushing up school suspensions, report says

Rick Rojas:

The National Education Policy Center finds that districts, including L.A. Unified, have increasingly suspended minority students, mostly for nonviolent offenses, over the last decade.
In the decade since school districts instituted “zero tolerance” discipline policies, administrators have increasingly suspended minority students, predominantly for nonviolent offenses, according to a report released Wednesday.
The National Education Policy Center found that suspensions across the country are increasing for offenses such as dress code and cellphone violations. Researchers expressed concerns that the overuse of suspensions could lead to dropouts and even incarceration.
Suspensions are falling mostly on black students; nearly a third of black males in middle school have been suspended at least once, researchers from the University of Colorado-based group found.

Gangless in Glasgow: The City Famed for Youth Violence Is Keeping the Kids Clean

Jay Newton-Small:

When he was 12, William Palmer joined a gang without even realizing it. To him, he was just hanging out with his big brother and their friends in their Easterhouse neighborhood in Glasgow. At first, he stood and watched as his friends defended their 200-sq-m territory from rivals. Lining up military-style, both sides would lunge and retreat until someone, usually drunk, engaged, and the fight would begin. Soon enough, Palmer was fighting alongside his brethren. By the time he was 20, he was selling drugs — mostly ecstasy — to younger kids in his neighborhood, taking care to avoid other gangs’ territories lest he get jumped.
Now 29, Palmer regards himself as lucky to have survived his youth. One of his brothers, a heroin addict, is in prison. Palmer himself did a two-year term after attacking a rival gang member with a hatchet. That led to an epiphany, and he joined Alcoholics Anonymous to dry out. Today he mentors kids at risk of joining gangs, even though the charity for which he works still has to carefully smuggle him through enemy lines — five years after he left his gang. He is also wanted by the Glasgow police, but in a good way. They regularly ask Palmer to talk with new officers about how to get through to gang members. The role reversal amuses him. “We used to phone them up just to toy with them so we could get a chase off them,” he says of the police. “Now they’re phoning me up for advice.”

Panel: Strict school discipline should be scrapped

Ivan Moreno:

Colorado lawmakers and police said Monday that strict disciplinary policies at schools created after the Columbine High School shootings should be scaled back or scrapped and that administrators should have more control over student punishment.
The state laws put in place after high-profile cases of youth violence have tied the hands of school administrators with zero-policy standard, said members of a panel looking at school discipline trends. In turn, the officials are left with no choice but to refer a high number of students to law enforcement for minor offenses that pose no threat to school safety, they said.
“Zero tolerance has outlived its shelf life and is often inappropriately and inconsistently applied,” John Jackson, the police chief for Greenwood Village, wrote in a memo by the panel. He suggested that officials come up with a better definition for what’s considered a “dangerous weapon” on school grounds.

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.

Trenton to open an alternative middle school this September

Erin Duffy:

A new alternative middle school for students with behavior problems and learning disabilities is set to open this September.
School officials last night briefed the Trenton board of education on the district’s newest school.
Some, like board member T. Missy Balmir, called the concept “long, long overdue.”
Others, like board president Rev. Toby Sanders and vice president Sasa Olessi Montaño asked for strict monitoring of the program’s success and use of district dollars.
“This is a huge undertaking, a new school in our district, a district facing the financial situation that we’re facing,” said Olessi Montaño.

New Jersey Left Behind has more.

More students accuse tough-love school of abuse

Associated Press:

Eight more former students joined a $25.5 million lawsuit Wednesday against a “tough love” boarding school in Central Oregon that was shut down by the state in 2009 over allegations it mistreated troubled teens in its care.
The new plaintiffs bring to 17 the number of people saying they were abused at the former Mount Bachelor Academy outside Prineville.
Attorney Kelly Clark said the growing number of plaintiffs will make it harder for the school’s owners to deny they mistreated students in the name of rehabilitation.
“One of the initial reactions when we filed the case from Mount Bachelor lawyers was basically that this was just a couple disgruntled former students and none of this ever happened,” Clark said from Portland. “The breadth of the class of plaintiffs makes it less likely and more difficult for Mount Bachelor Academy to simply dismiss this as none of it happened.”

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin on The Schools, Community, Curriculum & Parenting

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin Interview 8.12.2011 from Jim Zellmer.

I am thankful that Madison Mayor Paul Soglin took the time to chat yesterday.
Mobile (iPhone, iPad, iPod and Android) visitors, please use this link.
19MB mp3 version.

Parents must hold kids accountable

Laura Schubert:

The recent spate of criminal activity involving marauding bands of young people has a lot of greater Milwaukee residents wondering what is going on inside the heads of today’s teenagers and young adults.
The answer, according to current brain research, is a lot. It turns out that the adolescent brain is not fully mature, as previously believed, but is actually in a period of intense growth until children reach their late teens or early 20s. One of the last areas of the brain to mature is the prefrontal cortex.
In a nutshell, the prefrontal cortex governs impulse control. The hormonal surges of puberty kick up heightened emotional responses at a time when the brain is least equipped to regulate emotional urges, thus creating the perfect storm for poor choices.

Bullying climates at schools may be linked with lower test scores

Jeannine Stein:

Bullying can affect a student’s academic performance, but a school’s bullying climate may be linked with lower overall test scores, a study finds.
The study, presented recently at the American Psychological Assn.’s recent annual convention in Washington, D.C., surveyed 7,304 ninth-grade students and 2,918 teachers who were randomly chosen from 284 high schools in Virginia. Students and teachers were asked about incidents of bullying and teasing at the school. Ninth-grade students were chosen because researchers felt this first year of high school was a critical adjustment period, and because poor test scores in this grade may be linked with a higher drop-out rate.
In the study, bullying was defined as using strength or popularity to deliberately injure, threaten or embarrass another person, and that harassment can be verbal, physical or social. Two students close in strength who argue are not considered bullies.

PBIS in the Sun Prairie Schools


PBIS is all the rage in school districts across the country. No…Sun Prairie didn’t just dream this up all by themselves. What, exactly, is PBIS? PBIS stands for Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports. It’s an offshoot of the IDEA program (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act). You may see/hear it as SWPBS (School-wide Positive Behavior Supports). In a nutshell, PBIS is a system of behavior modification, with three stages of intervention.
Primary intervention is targeted to all students and is s system designed to clearly identify which behaviors are acceptable and which are not. Exhibiting positive behavior is rewarded in some fashion. In theory, about 80-85% of students respond to this primary level of intervention. The overall target is to develop a system in which positive reinforcements (for “acceptable/desired” behaviors) outnumber negative reinforcements (for unacceptable behaviors) by about 4:1. In this way, kids overwhelmingly see that “being good” is the place to be. You get rewards.
PBIS extends further to the 2nd tier, kids that do not respond well to these primary tactics. These kids represent about 10-15% of the population and are those that potentially are at risk for “failure”, or at the very least not realizing their academic potential. This group, however is not in need of individualized attention, but rather is targeted in small groups (a modernized form of “group” therapy). The third tier, which includes about 5-10% of students, covers those students who require individualized attention to develop positive behaviors and squelch those behaviors which are not acceptable.

Controversy @ The Madison School Board over Discipline Policy: “Featuring the Administration as Sisyphus” (Now with Video!)

Madison School Board Member Ed Hughes:

As is becoming increasingly common these days however, mine turned out to be a minority view. Other Board members took turns identifying parts of the revision that they did not like, raising some concerns that they had previously expressed and some that were new. The general tenor of the comments was that the current format of the Code was fine but that Code should be stricter and that more violations should lead to mandatory recommendations for expulsion.
About an hour into the meeting, I expressed some frustration with the proceedings (since I’m just figuring this stuff out, this video starts with eight seconds of black) :
Eventually Board members settled on deep-sixing the Work Group’s proposal but adopting some (but not all) of the substantive changes reflected in the revision. For example, the aggravated theft offense was added. The change to the unintentional use of force against a staff member violation was adopted (a very good move, btw), but the change to the possession and distribution of drugs or alcohol violation was not (I think). Another change boosted the potential consequences imposed for non-physical acts of bullying or harassment.
Also on our agenda Monday night was the creation of a new Board Ad Hoc Committee on Student Discipline, Conduct and Intervention, to be chaired by Lucy Mathiak. Some Board members suggested that the revisions recommended by the Work Group and rejected by the Board might be re-considered by the members of this committee in some fashion.
I found the Board’s rejection of the proposed revisions and ad hoc amending of the existing Code an unfortunate turn of events and criticized what I described as our legislating on the fly right before the vote:

The life and death of a Washington teenager in state care

Linda Thomas:

A new report from the Department of Social and Health Services summarizes a teenager’s life and death in eight pages. After bouncing him through 22 foster homes, it concludes that caseworkers and foster parents should have had more information about the boy’s history so they could have helped him.
Roger Eugene Benson was in state care when he left a group home in January, walked to a freeway overpass, jumped to I-5 below and died after being struck by a van. People who witnessed the suicide were horrified. People who didn’t know what was going were angry by the traffic delays caused when the Interstate was shut down during the afternoon commute.
In calling the State Patrol that day, I found out the victim was 15 years old. That struck me because I have a 15-year-old daughter. This kid, the boy who killed himself on I-5 , was somebody’s son.
What went wrong in his life?
Benson was born in December of 1995. His history with the state began when he was a toddler. His mother was investigated for abuse or neglect of her children, including Benson, six times. The last time CPS was called, in May of 1998, Benson was placed in protective custody. The boy and his siblings were placed in four foster homes within three years. The longest he was in any one home was two years.

Cops in schools too costly: Chicago Public Schools

Rosalind Rossi:

Do all Chicago public high schools really need two Chicago police officers stationed inside them every day — at a cost of $25 million a year?

The tab for police service — begun under former Mayor Richard M. Daley — recently more than tripled, prompting Chicago Public School officials faced with a $712 million deficit to start taking a hard look at whether every penny of that cost is being spent effectively.

“We’re looking at if we need two police officers in every high school all day long. My guess is we don’t,” CPS Chief Administrative Officer Tim Cawley told the Chicago Sun-Times.

A heartbreaking essay on Oakland school break-ins

Katy Murphy:

The district hasn’t yet provided stats on how many times people have broken into Oakland schools this year and how much they’ve taken, but it happens all too often. In fact, the break-in at Burbank followed burglaries at Grass Valley (stolen safe) and Redwood Heights (stolen computers and projectors), according to the school district’s spokesman, Troy Flint.
I don’t know who wrote the essay, posted on the “On Thoughtfulness and Randomness” blog, but you should read it. Here’s an excerpt:

I had to go there later in the day – and steeled myself walking in. District vans were parked outside the school, lots of people inside fixing things. Busy trying to make the break in go away.
Teachers were teaching. Eyes were sad, smiles forced. But children were going to lunch – teachers were helping them celebrate “super hero day” – children looked safe, happy, excited – oblivious to the damage, oblivious to the whispers of the adults. It was their school – and it was a good place to be.
The teachers made it that way – protected the children from what wasn’t right in the world. Kept their routines, listened to their stories about their costumes, worked on their colors and shapes – made the world calm, predictable, and safe. Protected the families too – told them gently, with assurance, with sympathetic smiles, with plans to make it better in the future – plans to keep the world from busting in again, stories of why everything would be OK.

Peer pressure: Madison La Follette High School youth court program shows potential

Matthew DeFour:

When Madison La Follette High School senior Burnett Reed got into a heated argument with another student during his sophomore year in 2008, he faced a choice.
He could take a disorderly conduct ticket that would stay on his court record. Or he could participate in the school’s new youth court program in which a jury of fellow students would assess the case. He chose youth court and was sentenced to writing an apology letter, tutoring and four hours with a life coach.
He so liked the option he soon became a juror, and now is helping Madison West High School start its own program next year.
“It’s a better way to keep youth out of the system,” Reed said.
The approach has so much potential Madison Municipal Judge Dan Koval wants to start a similar program later this year for adult offenders, particularly those with chronic municipal violations such as retail theft, disorderly conduct, trespassing and other non-criminal offenses.

The School Bully Is Sleepy

Tara Parker-Pope:School bullies and children who are disruptive in class are twice as likely to show signs of sleep problems compared with well-behaved children, new research shows.
The findings, based on data collected from 341 Michigan elementary school children, suggests a novel approaching to solving school bullying. Currently, most efforts to curb bullying have focused on protecting victims as well as discipline and legal actions against the bullies. The new data suggests that the problem may be better addressed, at least in part, at the source, by paying attention to some of the unique health issues associated with aggressive behavior.
The University of Michigan study, which was published in the journal Sleep Medicine, collected data from parents on each child’s sleep habits and asked both parents and teachers to assess behavioral concerns. Among the 341 children studied, about a third were identified by parents or teachers as having problems with disruptive behavior or bullying.

Madison West High School Sexual Assault

via a kind reader’s email:

Please read attached letter with information about an assault at West High today. (The body of the letter is below, for anyone unable to open the attachment.)
Dear Students, Parents/Legal Guardians:
We want to make you aware of an alleged serious sexual assault that happened at West High School on Monday, May 16. A female student reported being forcibly sexually assaulted in a stairwell by a student acquaintance. The female student first contacted the Fitchburg Police Department which then notified the school.
West High School administrators and our education resource officer are working with Fitchburg Police on the investigation. An individual has been arrested for 2nd degree sexual assault and has been taken into custody.
As we continually evaluate our safety and security procedures at West High, this incident requires staff and students to be extra vigilant in all areas of the school. West High staff will work with the district’s security coordinator and Building Services staff to examine access to all hallways, corridors, stairwells and elevators. Lighting, security cameras and building supervision are being reviewed and if changes are needed, they will be made.
This incident is deeply disturbing to us. We want to assure you that the staff at West High School will do all they can to make certain the school is safe. We are also prepared to help any student and family needing assistance as a result of this incident. They should contact any administrative staff at West HS.
If you wish to discuss safety at West High in greater detail, please contact the Superintendent.

Wisconsin Supreme Court upholds life without parole for young teen

Bruce Vielmetti:

Omer Ninham was just 14 when he was part of a gang that threw a 13-year-old Hmong boy to his death from the top of a Green Bay parking garage in 1998.
On Friday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld his life-without-parole sentence over arguments that recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings and new science about adolescent brain development demand Ninham deserves at least a chance for release later in life.
Justice Annette Ziegler wrote the majority opinion; Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson dissented, joined by Justice Ann Walsh Bradley.
“Under the circumstances of this case, Ninham’s punishment is severe, but it is not disproportionately so,” Ziegler wrote.

Numbers don’t hold up for tighter school security measures

Chris Rickert:

I was surprised to learn this week that my high school occasionally brought in drug-sniffing dogs when I was a student there some 25 years ago.
That might be because they were only used after school hours. It also might be because the dogs weren’t very effective, given that I never felt discouraged from engaging in the kinds of behaviors during school hours that the dogs are presumably meant to discourage.
Neither were many of my classmates, whose on-school-property, school-hours transgressions often made my own drug-related rebelliousness look pretty lame.
But it’s not only questions about the effectiveness of siccing Fido on schools that make me wonder about a package of Madison School District security proposals sparked by new concerns over drug, gang and other criminal activity in and around schools.

Madison schools ‘don’t want to wait’ for a crisis

Matthew DeFour:

Responding to an increase in violence, drugs and gang activity in and around schools, the Madison School District is considering a broad effort to improve building security, including the use of drug-sniffing dogs in high schools next year.
The district also is proposing to lock the main entrances of middle school buildings during the day. Other recommendations include redesigning main entrances at West and Memorial high schools and adding surveillance cameras to all elementary and middle schools, district security coordinator Luis Yudice said.
“We are not doing this because we believe we have severe problems in our schools (or) because we experienced a tragedy in our schools,” Yudice said. “We don’t want to wait until there’s a crisis. We want to get ahead of the game.”

Students use Tasers at school to defend themselves against bullies

STUDENTS are using stun guns in schools to protect themselves against bullies and to threaten fellow classmates.
At least one schoolboy has been hospitalised as a result of being attacked with one of the electro-shock weapons, arising from a confrontation in the playground, according to reports obtained under freedom of information laws by The Daily Telegraph.
Serious incident reports show stun guns have been used on three occasions as a weapon against students or as a threat.In the most serious case a Year 10 boy who challenged a boy to a fight at school in southwestern Sydney accosted his victim after school, pulling up in a silver car driven by a stun gun-wielding male of an unknown age.
The driver got out of the car, “pulled a Taser-like device from his pocket” and stabbed a schoolboy with it, the incident report said.

An Oakland Unified School District survey on working conditions

Katy Murphy:

Oakland teachers, counselors, principals and other credentialed school-based staff: Friday is the deadline for completing an anonymous online survey about what it’s like to work at each school in the district.
How much time do you spend on various tasks during the school day? Outside of the regular school day? Are efforts made at your school to minimize interruptions, or routine paperwork? How much time do you have to collaborate with other teachers?
The results will be published online, by school, in June — that is, as long as the response rate is at least 50 percent for a given school. If not, those schools will be omitted from the results.So far, roughly one-third have responded, said Ash Solar, who is facilitating the Effective Teaching Task Force. The goal is at least 80 percent. (You can tell how many people from each school have responded by going here.)

Parents need to learn cyberbullying is a real and serious threat to youngsters, not just some silly, minor issue

Ken Chan:

Members of the younger generation in today’s Hong Kong are different from their parents, who grew up watching only television. Technology, in the form of the internet, has given them a more interactive medium, with two-way communication and an ability to have a say in things and express opinions. However, this new environment that young people take completely for granted has hidden dangers in the form of bullying and intimidation.
Online, people can persecute or harass others behind a shield of anonymity. It is a world where the bullies may not see the impact of their work; they may think what they are doing is funny, or they may not realise the consequences of their behaviour. Incriminating or embarrassing words or pictures placed online by others may come back to haunt people later when they apply for college or a job.

Berkeley struggles to keep guns out of schools

Jill Tucker:

On the morning of March 21, shortly after school began, a Berkeley High School student snuck into a bathroom stall with a gun to show it to a friend.
Suddenly the weapon fired, the bullet ripping through the bathroom’s thin outer wall and across a busy downtown street. Had the boys been facing the other direction, the bullet would have flown into a classroom full of students.
No one was injured, but it was the fifth gun discovered at the district’s two high schools since January, a cluster of incidents that has sent parents into a panic and district administrators scrambling to address the new and disturbing trend.
The presence of guns on campus is not just Berkeley’s problem.
According to state and national surveys, 6 percent of high school students say they have brought a gun to school at least once. That’s the equivalent of at least 210 guns at Berkeley High School with its enrollment of 3,500 students.

Seattle Schools confirms grade tampering at Ingraham

Brittany Wong:

Grade tampering suspected at three Seattle high schools has been confirmed only at Ingraham High School, according to Seattle Public Schools.
It’s the only school “that we’ve been able to verify that a grade has been changed so far,” spokeswoman Teresa Wippel said.
Earlier in the week, a school-district official said it was possible there had been grade tampering at Ballard and Chief Sealth high schools, too.

Seattle Schools Students Steal Teacher Passwords, Alter Grades

Riya Bhattacharjee:

We just received a tip that Seattle Public School students are using high-tech to steal teacher passwords, hack systems, and alter grades. I am waiting for SPS to confirm this.
According to an email sent by the district’s Chief Informational Officer Jim Ratchford at 11:15 a.m. today to SPS employees, including Interim Superintendent Susan Enfield, Department of Technology Services has determined that network log-in credentials “are being stolen and used to inappropriately access district systems.”
The email, whose subject line reads “Unauthorized Access Warning,” says that the incident “appears to have been going on for the last few weeks, possibly longer.” “At this point, we are aware of this happening at these schools: Ballard, Ingraham, and Sealth. However, all schools and teachers are at risk,” Ratchford says in his email.

Madison Teachers’ Union Gets Death Threat

Matthew Rothschild:

Republican legislators in Wisconsin aren’t the only ones getting violent threats. On Thursday, Katherine Windels pleaded not guilty to making death threats to Republican state lawmakers. Her crazed threats have gotten a lot of media attention.
But what hasn’t gotten attention is the ugliness directed against labor.
“We’ve gotten a lot of threats,” says John Matthews, executive director of Madison Teachers Inc (MTI).
MTI received a death threat on April 15.
“You’re all going to die. I’m going to kill you. I’m going to kill you,” said a man’s voice calling from the (252) area code, which MTI saw on caller ID. That area code is in North Carolina.

ACLU seeks federal probe of truants lockup

Lynn Arditi:

The American Civil Liberties Union and its Rhode Island affiliate are urging federal justice officials in Washington to investigate the lockup of truants at the state Training School.
The ACLU has asked officials in the U.S. Justice Department — who are scheduled to arrive in Rhode Island Tuesday — to investigate “documented evidence” published in a December 2010 Providence Journal article that showed, since 2005, at least 28 youths from the state Family Court’s truancy program had been detained overnight.
The Journal article described how juveniles who attended weekly truancy hearings in classrooms, cafeterias and school offices around the state were declared in criminal contempt of court and sent to the Training School. Their offenses included not answering a magistrate’s questions, swearing or otherwise acting disrespectful. In one case, a 12-year-old girl was ordered held for two nights for slamming a door on her way out of the room. At the time, the girl had no parent or lawyer present.

A Mentor’s Goal: Keeping At-Risk Chicago Teens Alive

David Schaper:

In Chicago last school year, 245 public school students were shot, 27 of them fatally.
It’s a high toll. To try to find out who might be next, Chicago Public School officials developed a probability model by analyzing the traits of 500 shooting victims over a recent two-year period. They noted that the vast majority were poor, black and male, and had chronic absences, bad grades and serious misconduct.
Using this probability model, they identified more than 200 teenagers who have a shockingly good chance of being shot — a better than 1 in 5 chance within the next two years.
Project Director Jonathan Moy says the probability model isn’t perfect, but it’s working.

In Virginia assault case, anxious parents recognize ‘dark side of autism’

Theresa Vargas:

When a Stafford County jury this month found an autistic teenager guilty of assaulting a law enforcement officer and recommended that he spend 101/2 years in prison, a woman in the second row sobbed.
It wasn’t the defendant’s mother. She wouldn’t cry until she reached her car. It was Teresa Champion.
Champion had sat through the trial for days and couldn’t help drawing parallels between the defendant, Reginald “Neli” Latson, 19, and her son James, a 17-year-old with autism.

Why school zero tolerance policies make no sense

Valerie Strauss:

The discipline policy in Fairfax County public schools failed Nick Stuban.
Stuban was a 15-year-old football player at W.T. Woodson High School who committed suicide during a disciplinary process that he was forced to undergo after he purchased a capsule of a legal substance.
According to a story by my colleague Donna St. George, he was kept out of school for seven weeks and not allowed on the school grounds to attend weekly Boy Scout meetings, sports events, or driver’s education sessions. He killed himself Jan. 20.
This is not say the disciplinary system drove him to kill himself, or another boy before him in 2009. Suicide is complicated, and the reasons someone decides to take his/her own life are complex and often unknowable.

Nampa police: Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna threatened, vehicle vandalized

Idaho Press Tribune:

Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna’s vehicle was vandalized overnight at his Nampa home and he and his family have received threats, he told police.
“Yes, he has made us aware of threats to him and family members and we are looking into those, and we are aware of those, and we are doing what we can to provide protection,” Nampa Police Deputy Chief Craig Kingsbury said.
On Saturday night, a man who identified himself as a teacher reportedly showed up at Luna’s mother’s home in Nampa in order to speak with her about the superintendent’s contentious education reform plan. Luna happened to be at his mother’s house at the time, Department of Education spokeswoman Melissa McGrath said.
“The man was very angry… the superintendent did feel threatened,” she said. The man eventually left after Luna spoke to him for several minutes. Luna told the man it was an inappropriate place and time, and later filed a police report, McGrath said.

Beating ban stirs debate in S. Korean schools

Jung Ha-Won:

With the new school year starting in March, high school teacher Jennifer Chung is worried about coping without her longtime classroom companion — a hickory stick for smacking misbehaving students.
“I don’t know if I can survive the jungle of 40 restless boys in each class, let alone keeping them quiet with no means to punish them,” said the 36-year-old maths teacher in Gyeonggi province surrounding Seoul.
Education authorities in Seoul, the country’s largest school district with 1.36 million pre-college students, last November banned corporal punishment.
Gyeonggi and one other province followed suit, with the new rule to take effect there in March.

Student arrested after allegedly dragging ex-girlfriend out of school

Susan Troller, via a kind reader’s email

A 16-year-old Madison West High School student was arrested Friday afternoon after he allegedly dragged his ex-girlfriend out of the school and threatened to harm her in a nearby cemetery.
The teen was tentatively charged with false imprisonment, intimidation of a victim and two counts of disorderly conduct, Madison police said.
According to police, the incident was reported at about 12:15 p.m. Friday at the high school, 30 Ash St.
“The 16-year-old female victim said the boy pulled her out of school against her will and led her by the arm to a nearby cemetery where he threatened to harm her,” said police spokesman Joel DeSpain.

Madison’s Sherman & Shabazz schools were locked down briefly Tuesday.

Make our schools safe, effective

Caryl Davis:

I was assailed at my workplace. This wouldn’t be out of the ordinary had my workplace been a boxing or MMA ring. But it is not typical, as my workplace is a school.
I was struck in the head and face from behind as I escorted a group of students from the cafeteria. I didn’t pass out or fall down, but I was stunned.
I sought medical attention and received the pat “I’m sorry that happened to you” response from those who likely couldn’t find the words to make meaning of what occurred.
My assault occurred several weeks after Flamond Hightower, a paraprofessional educator at Milwaukee’s Phyllis Wheatley Elementary School, sent a notorious e-mail that identified the challenges at his school. The e-mail had been intended only for Wheatley faculty and staff but found its way to the electronic mailboxes of Milwaukee Public Schools employees throughout the district. Its message was clear and strong: HELP!
Hightower pointed to and was concerned about the disorder in his school. Perhaps his means of communicating were a bit extreme, but sometimes it takes an event before people listen.

MPS suspends too many kids

James Causey:

Let me start out by saying, I’ve never been suspended from school, and I attended Milwaukee Public Schools from kindergarten through 12th grade.
Was I an angel?
No, but I was lucky enough to have teachers and school leaders who reined me in if I got out of control.
Oh, and I can’t forget my mother’s threat:
“Don’t make me come up to your school and embarrass you in front of your friends, because you know I’ll do it.”
As my mother prepared to leave for work every morning, she would always say to me before I locked the door behind her, “Be good in school, and remember I love you.”
That message kept me out of fights, arguments and trouble – most of the time, anyway.
When I attended school 25 years ago, a suspension was a big deal. Today, a suspension is nothing more than a vacation for kids and an inconvenience to working parents.

Inside the bullied brain: The alarming neuroscience of taunting

Emily Anthes:

In the wake of several tragedies that have made bullying a high-profile issue, it’s becoming clear that harassment by one’s peers is something more than just a rite of passage. Bullied kids are more likely to be depressed, anxious, and suicidal. They struggle in school — when they decide to show up at all. They are more likely to carry weapons, get in fights, and use drugs.
But when it comes to the actual harm bullying does, the picture grows murkier. The psychological torment that victims feel is real. But perhaps because many of us have experienced this sort of schoolyard cruelty and lived to tell the tale, peer harassment is still commonly written off as a “soft” form of abuse — one that leaves no obvious injuries and that most victims simply get over. It’s easy to imagine that, painful as bullying can be, all it hurts is our feelings.

Madison School District School Safety Recommendations and Tactical Site Assessments

Luis Yudice, Safety/Security Coordinator Madison School District:

The Madison Metropolitan School District has the responsibility to provide a safe and secure learning environment for students and staff. To this end, the district periodically conducts assessments of its facilities and reviews its operating practices to ensure that all that can be done is being done to ensure the safety of our schools.
Following a school shooting in the Weston School District in Cazenovia, Wisconsin in 2006, Superintendent Art Rainwater issued security reminders that included the following:

  • Ensure that building security and door locking procedures are followed.
  • Ensure that all non-employees in a building are identified and registered in the office.
  • Ensure that communication systems, radios and PA’s are functioning.
  • Have employees visibly display their MMSD identification badges.
  • Be aware of the school’s security plan and of their role in security procedures.
  • Communicate with and listen to students.
  • Remind students that they should always communicate with staff and share information regarding any threats to the school or to other persons.
  • Ensure that the school’s crisis team is in place.

A fatal failure long ago gives a new principal a mission

Alan Borsuk

Jim Wilkinson took it personally when Juan Perez murdered two men.
Certainly he had sympathy for the victims, Joseph Rivera and Michael Ralston. But he didn’t know them.
The issue was Perez. Wilkinson felt he barely knew him – and that was the problem. Perez had been one of Wilkinson’s students the previous year when Perez was 15 and a freshman at Marquette University High School.
Almost everybody at Marquette High barely knew Perez. He never asked for help. He stayed to himself. He got mediocre grades, but he wasn’t failing. And he left the school after that freshman year. Instead, he got involved deeply with a gang.
A tense, angry confrontation between members of two gangs in a restaurant on Feb. 13, 1993. A slap. Insults. A couple guns. And, in short order, the teenager was receiving a 60-year sentence.
Almost 18 years later, both Perez and Wilkinson feel they have changed for the better.

Teen kicked off campus after lunch box mix-up


A 17-year-old honor student says she has been kicked off campus for the rest of the school year, because of a mix-up with her lunch box.
In October, senior Ashley Smithwick says she got in trouble at school for the first time in her life after she mistakenly took her father’s lunch container — that’s identical to hers — to Southern Lee High School.
Her dad’s container had a three-inch paring knife inside.
“And I had just grabbed my dad’s lunch box,” Smithwick said. “I didn’t mean to. I really didn’t. I just grabbed it and went out the door.”
School leaders say during that day a faculty member discovered a student with marijuana on campus and Smithwick’s paring knife was found during a random search.
According to a written statement received by ABC11 from Lee County Schools Superintendent Jeff Moss on Wednesday, the knife was found in Smithwick’s purse, not her lunchbox.

The Police and the Schools

The New York Times:

School officials across the country are revisiting “zero-tolerance” disciplinary policies under which children are sometimes arrested for profanity, talking back to teachers or adolescent behavior that once would have been resolved in meetings with parents. The reappraisals are all to the good given that those who get suspended or arrested are more likely to drop out and become entangled in the criminal justice system permanently.
The New York City Council clearly had this link in mind when it passed a new law earlier this week that will bring long overdue transparency to the school disciplinary process. Under the Student Safety Act, which takes effect in 90 days, the New York Police Department’s school security division will be required to provide clear and comprehensive data that show how many students are arrested or issued summonses at school and why. School officials will also have to provide similarly detailed information on suspensions.

Ending deception in school safety reports

Jay Matthews:

There was something strange in The Washington Post a week ago. A chart on page A16, using data provided by the D.C. public school system, showed that in late summer and fall 2009, Spingarn High School had by far the lowest number of assaults, thefts, threats and other crimes. There were just six incidents in four months compared with an average of 31 in the other eight high schools assessed.
At that time, teachers at this allegedly safest of all regular D.C. high schools were reporting a rash of crimes and classroom intrusions. The situation became so intolerable that by January they had persuaded D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee to replace the Spingarn principal.
How could the incidents being reported by security guards under school district rules be so different from what people at the school were experiencing? Why did Rhee ignore the data in changing the school’s leadership and yet her successor, Kaya Henderson, used data from similar security incident reports last week to replace the principal at Dunbar High?

Empathy a solution for bad youth behavior

Sam Witthuhn:

It comes as no surprise that Madison school districts are suffering. Public schools throughout the city struggle with a severe lack of state funding that only adds to the lack of authority figures–fueling the ideology of students who just don’t give a shit. And when you combine this lack of resources and educational programs with a student attitude that cares little about achievement, you get the perfect recipe for a continual decrease in graduation rates.
After all, students who fail to complete their homework or who show respect for their teachers can reasonably argue that if the state doesn’t show its support for education through monetary aid, why should they be expected to put in the extra effort? And while this argument lacks concrete support, a recent rise in poor behavior among middle school and high school students shows that they lust for learning and respect for fellow classmates is plummeting.
To be honest, kids just don’t care anymore.

New program gives Madison students a chance to avoid expulsion

In past years the Madison School District might have expelled more than a dozen students in the first quarter.
This year the number of expulsions in the first quarter — zero.
The sharp reduction is the result of the district’s new Phoenix program, an alternative to expulsion that district officials hope will allow students to focus on academics and improved behavior, rather than spend as long as a year-and-a-half falling behind their peers while disconnected from school services.
As of last week, 17 students who have committed expellable offenses were enrolled in the program. Rather than face an expulsion hearing, each has been given a second chance to continue learning in a classroom away from their peers. The district has expelled between 33 and 64 students a year in the last decade.

Watch a Madison School Board discussion of the Phoenix program, here (begins about 10 minutes into the video).

Raising school achievement isn’t enough – D.C. principals must also keep order

Jay Matthews

Dunbar High School Principal Stephen Jackson was fired at the end of the last school year by the private management group in charge of the school but put back in the job last week by interim D.C. Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson at the urging of parents, community leaders and teachers. Jackson seemed an unusually lively and energetic educator when I met him at the long-troubled Northwest Washington school a year ago. He may be the person who can finally straighten Dunbar out.
But the odds are against him because of the ingrown nature of the school’s problems and the dispiriting message Henderson’s decision sends to him and any other school leader she assigns to a low-performing school after this.

Hero Teacher Kept Kids Calm During School Siege in France

Mara Gay:

A French nursery school teacher who kept kids calm while a sword-wielding teenager took their classroom hostage is being hailed as a hero today.
French authorities say Nathalie Roffet kept the 17-year-old hostage-taker talking for hours so he didn’t threaten the children and reasoned with him to secure their release from the school in Besancon, a small city near the Swiss border.
Roffet, who has been teaching at the Charles-Fourier school for five years, showed “remarkable sangfroid,” Besancon Mayor Jean-Louis Fousseret told reporters today, according to The Telegraph. The four-hour standoff ended this morning when the teen released the final six children and the teacher. Then, GIGN, an elite French police force, stormed the building, shot him with a stun gun and arrested him.

The Madison School District’s “Phoenix Program”: An “Alternative to Expulsion”

The Madison School District Administration

On June 14, 2010, the Board was presented with a Document entitled Disciplinary Alternatives: Phoenix Program.
That Document outlined the foundation for the current Phoenix Program, an alternative to expulsion that allows a student’s expulsion recommendation to be held in abeyance while the student participates in a half-day program tailored to the student’s academic, emotional and behavioral needs. At the time of presentation, the Board voted to implement the Phoenix Program.
The June 14, 2010 document did not provide all the details related to the Phoenix Program and contemplated that further details would be provided to the Board as the Program was implemented. This memo is intended to advise the Board of the current state of the Phoenix Program, provide further details of its operation and advise the Board of changes to prior practices that have been made in the process of implementing the Phoenix Program.
For ease of reference, this Update will follow the structure of the June 14, 2010 Document. Also for !he Board’s reference the following documents are attached to this Update: Phoenix Program Participation Agreement, the “Knowledge” analysis form, and a chart that compares and contrasts the old practices versus the new practices.
As the Board will recall, the Phoenix Program was recommended and adopted in order to provide an alternative toexpulsionforstudentswhocommittedcertainexpellableoffenses. Theintentoftheprogramistoprovide academic, social and emotional interventions to students who engage in certain behavior in order for students to remain connected to the school environment and improve their prosocial skills and not repeat the same or similar behavior.

Schools in Ciudad Juarez targeted by extortionists

Associated Press

Authorities are beefing up security at schools in this border city after graffiti threatening attacks on students and teachers was scrawled on school grounds, state and local officials said Friday.
Officials have increased police patrols and are installing security cameras to prevent a repeat of last week’s spate of threats that targeted five or six primary and secondary schools, said Claudio Gonzalez Ruiz, head of public safety in Ciudad Juarez.
In the messages, extortionists threatened to harm teachers and students if school administrators, or in some cases the teachers themselves, failed to pay up.
At the Rafael Velarde Elementary School, extortionists demanded to be given the 50,000-peso (about $4,000) prize of a fundraising raffle, administrators said. At other schools, messages demanded teachers fork over their Christmas bonuses.
Javier Gonzalez Mocken, who heads the city’s education department, declined to provide any details about the exact nature of the threats. While some of the messages were written in graffiti on walls, others were scrawled on signs tacked up on school grounds or telephoned to officials, Gonzalez Mocken said.

No More A’s for Good Behavior

Peg Tyre

A few years ago, teachers at Ellis Middle School in Austin, Minn., might have said that their top students were easy to identify: they completed their homework and handed it in on time; were rarely tardy; sat in the front of the class; wrote legibly; and jumped at the chance to do extra-credit assignments.
But after poring over four years of data comparing semester grades with end-of-the-year test scores on state subject exams, the teachers at Ellis began to question whether they really knew who the smartest students were.
About 10 percent of the students who earned A’s and B’s in school stumbled during end-of-the-year exams. By contrast, about 10 percent of students who scraped along with C’s, D’s and even F’s — students who turned in homework late, never raised their hands and generally seemed turned off by school — did better than their eager-to-please B+ classmates.

Madison schools working with Metro to curb bad bus behavior

Matthew DeFour:

Responding to safety concerns about bullying, fights and unruly behavior on student bus routes, Metro Transit is working with the Madison School District to impose sanctions against disruptive students.
Starting as early as mid-January, Metro officials may limit bus access for students who misbehave in ways that don’t currently result in penalties — such as vandalism, throwing objects, horseplay, and loud or vulgar language.
Unruly students with unlimited bus passes could receive a limited pass that would only cover travel to and from school. Currently, those passes allow students to ride buses throughout the city at any time.
Though Metro now has cameras on all of its buses, students, particularly those in middle school, are still misbehaving, school district security coordinator Luis Yudice said. Some students are bullied to the point that they arm themselves with knives or join gangs for protection, he said.

Madison School District to shut access to East High stairwell where alleged assault took place

Matthew DeFour

The stairwell at East High School where an alleged sexual assault took place last week will soon be off limits to students except in emergencies, a Madison School District official said Tuesday.
The door at the top of the stairwell, which leads to a building exit, will be labeled as an emergency exit, and an alarm will sound if it is opened, security coordinator Luis Yudice said.
“We’re talking about a comprehensive reassessment of building security at East,” Yudice said. “This incident served as a reminder to other schools that we always need to be vigilant and alert.”
The district also plans to add a sixth security officer to the school (other high schools have five), extra surveillance cameras and a visitor welcome center by January, as well as asking school staff to help patrol hallways.

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

Channel3000, via a kind reader’s email:

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.

15-year-old boy arrested in sexual assault at Madison East High School had been arrested four times

Matthew DeFour & Ed Treleven, via a kind reader

The 15-year-old boy arrested Thursday for the alleged sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl at Madison East High School had been arrested four other times since March 2009, according to a county official.
The boy, who isn’t being identified because he is a juvenile, was charged in a delinquency petition Friday with the adult equivalent of first-degree sexual assault of a child for the incident, which allegedly happened Wednesday in a stairwell at East.
Dane County Court Commissioner Marjorie Schuett on Friday ordered the boy kept at the juvenile jail for now, citing the “very serious allegations” he faces.
Juvenile Court Administrator John Bauman said the boy has been arrested in the past for disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, battery and disorderly conduct while armed.
“He’s a young man who has significant issues,” Bauman said.

How to deal with unruly students?

Caryl Davis:

MPS is in the throes of an alternative to suspensions – Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, or PBIS.
According to the Milwaukee Public Schools, the goal of PBIS is to “reduce classroom disruptions and student suspensions through a schoolwide systematic three-tiered response-to-intervention (RTI) approach.” PBIS looks like adults in the school community offering positive verbal redirection and modeling positive conduct. The point: to teach students about positive behavior.
Some of the nearly 100 MPS schools that use the PBIS system this academic year have reported successes. Fewer suspensions are being reported. That’s good news, right? Superintendent Gregory Thornton believes that “Finding ways to keep students in school instead of suspending them improves their chances of learning and improving academically,” which minimizes disruptions and keeps kids in class.

Officials limit access to Stoughton High School after gun threat

Officials limit access to Stoughton High School after gun threat
Responding to rumors that a student might bring a gun to Stoughton High School today, Stoughton police officers patrolled the school Thursday and plan to continue patrols today and Monday, district Administrator Tim Onsager said.
Access to the high school was allowed through only one door all day and at a second door before school, during lunch and after school, principal Mike Kruse said in an e-mail. Most extracurricular activities were canceled Thursday and today, as were staff meetings scheduled for today to allow teachers to remain in the classroom with students, Kruse wrote.
The district continues to investigate the origin of the rumors, but has not been able to substantiate any of the various stories circulating among students. No students have been disciplined so far, Onsager said.

National study: Half of high schoolers admit bullying in last year; nearly half were victims

Andrew Dalton

Half of high school students say they’ve bullied someone in the past year, and nearly half say they’ve been the victim of bullying, according to a national study.
The survey released Tuesday by the Los Angeles-based Josephson Institute of Ethics asked more than 43,000 high school students whether they’d been physically abused, teased or taunted in a way that seriously upset them. Forty-three per cent said yes, and 50 per cent admitted to being the bully.
The institute’s president, Michael Josephson, said the study shows more bullying goes on at later ages than previously thought, and remains extremely prevalent through high school.
“Previous to this, the evidence was bullying really peaks in middle school,” Josephson told The Associated Press.

Arming Your Kid With BB Gun, Knife To Fight School Bullies

Hilda Munoz

When the principal told Sylvia Mojica that her 12-year-old son had brought a weapon with him to the Latino Studies Academy at Burns Elementary School on Friday, she became nervous and reacted, she said, as any mother would.
Mojica told the principal she had given the BB gun to her son — even though it wasn’t true, she said.
“I took the blame so that my son would not get arrested,” she said. “I know I made a mistake, but I believe any parent would have done the same thing.”

Learning to Deal with a Difficult Class

Ms. Socrates:

Overall, my second year as a teacher has been ten times easier than my first year — I am feeling confident and in control, even when I allow the students to take the wheel for a bit. It feels great! But there is one class that I’m still having trouble with.
My largest class happens to also contain about 15 of the most difficult students in the grade. While this means that my other classes are wonderful, devoid of any trouble-makers, this class reduced me to tears yesterday for the first time this year (although I would never actually cry in front of them, I saved it for later). Standing in that room, watching every single student talk without giving me a second thought, I felt like a newbie all over again. What if, I thought, this is how it’s always going to be.
Today, I got back out there and managed to get them somewhat under control. Here’s how.
1. I let my feelings out the night before.

Madison West High’s (alcohol) test success: Attending dances there means submitting to random screening

Bill Lueders:

Tanya Lawler was taken aback. Her daughter, returning from West High’s homecoming dance on Sept. 25, mentioned that students were randomly selected to take a breath test as they arrived, to see if they’d been drinking.
While her daughter was not tested, Lawler considers this a “violation of Fourth Amendment rights” because officials lacked probable cause to suspect the people being tested. Her son attended La Follette’s homecoming dance, held the same night, and reported that no testing was done there.
In fact, West is the only high school in Madison that has a formal written policy (PDF) regarding student dances, and the only one that randomly tests students as they enter using “a passive alcohol detection device.” Students and a parent must sign a form agreeing to these rules.
Lawler, who doesn’t remember this form, advised her daughter to refuse this test. “I would rather forfeit the price of the ticket and have her call me. I’d say, ‘No, they’re not going to violate your rights.'”

Annapolis Police Change School Notification Policy


Annapolis police are changing the way they share information with schools after it was revealed that a high school senior charged this week with assaulting of a fellow student faced similar charges months ago.
The 17 year old from Annapolis was charged Wednesday with attempted second-degree rape and related counts in a Sept. 29 sexual assault involving a 14-year-old girl outside Annapolis High School. He is awaiting trial on charges he raped another teenager in May.
Anne Arundel County Public Schools officials say police never told them about the earlier allegations.

Ruling Limits State’s Power in School Suspensions

Erik Eckholm

In a ruling that puts new restraints on get-tough “zero tolerance” discipline, the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled Friday that schools must provide strong reasons for denying alternative schooling or tutoring to students after they are suspended for misbehavior.
The case was brought on behalf of two girls who were suspended for five months in 2008 after a brief fistfight at their high school in Beaufort County that involved no weapons or injuries. The suit did not question the district’s right to suspend them, but protested the additional, harsher step the district took, denying them access to the county’s alternative school for troubled students or help with study at home.
Legal experts said the decision, in a case that had drawn national attention from civil rights groups, children’s advocates and school leaders, was likely to be cited as a precedent as other states confront similar issues. The ruling affects one aspect of the zero-tolerance discipline policies that spread throughout the country over the last two decades, a policy originally intended to weed out dangerous children but one that critics say is used too readily for lesser infractions, derailing the lives of black children in particular.