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UNSAFE SCHOOL CHOICE OPTION Implementation and Recommendations Archived Information presented to: Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Advisory Committee.

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Presentation on theme: "UNSAFE SCHOOL CHOICE OPTION Implementation and Recommendations Archived Information presented to: Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Advisory Committee."— Presentation transcript:

1 UNSAFE SCHOOL CHOICE OPTION Implementation and Recommendations Archived Information presented to: Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Advisory Committee October 23, 2006 Susan Martz, Director Office of Program Support Services New Jersey Department of Education

2 NJDOE USCO Policy  Developed in consultation with the USCO Advisory Panel  Received advice from: Attorney General’s Education and Law Enforcement Working Group Attorney General’s Education and Law Enforcement Working Group NCLB Advisory Council NCLB Advisory Council Leaders for Educational Excellence Leaders for Educational Excellence

3 NJDOE USCO Policy  Approved by State Board on June 18, 2003  Compliance with the policy is a condition of an LEA receiving funds under any NCLB program  CSAs are required to certify compliance with the policy in their NCLB applications

4 Victims of Violent Criminal Offenses Provision  Provides relief to victimized students  Describes offenses consistent with the State’s criminal statute to help staff make reasonable determinations  Offenses include homicide, assault, sexual assault, bias intimidation, terroristic threat, robbery, kidnapping, arson  Applies to completed offenses, threats and attempts

5 Criteria to Determine Victims A student who purposely, knowingly or recklessly provokes the criminal conduct is not a victim A student is a victim of a violent criminal offense if: 1) A referral has been made to law enforcement for suspicion that one of the violent criminal offenses has occurred; and

6 Criteria to Determine Victims 2) One or more of the following applies: The perpetrator of the violent crime has been disciplined in accordance with school policy; or The perpetrator of the violent crime has been disciplined in accordance with school policy; or The perpetrator has not been identified or is not enrolled, but it is clear that the student was a victim; or The perpetrator has not been identified or is not enrolled, but it is clear that the student was a victim; or There is a pre-existing restraining order against the perpetrator; or There is a pre-existing restraining order against the perpetrator; or Law enforcement officials have filed formal charges against the perpetrator. Law enforcement officials have filed formal charges against the perpetrator.

7 Victim’s Transfer Option LEAs receiving NCLB funds must:  Provide students who become victims of violent criminal offenses, while in or on the grounds of the school they attend, with the option to move to another safe school within the district  Offer the transfer option within 10 days and complete transfers within 30 days of the determination

8 Persistently Dangerous Schools (PDS) Provision  Schools notified by July 31 each year  Use most current available Electronic Violence and Vandalism Reporting System data Staff are required to report offenses Staff are required to report offenses LEAs are required to report incidents LEAs are required to report incidents CSAs are required verify reported incidents CSAs are required verify reported incidents

9 PDS Identification Criteria  Criteria for dangerous : 7 or more Category A offenses, or 7 or more Category A offenses, or Score of 1 or greater on the index of Category B offenses Score of 1 or greater on the index of Category B offenses  Criteria for persistent: Meet criteria for dangerous each year for three consecutive years Meet criteria for dangerous each year for three consecutive years

10 Category A Offenses  A firearms offense set forth by New Jersey statute in accordance with the federal Gun-Free Schools Act  An aggravated assault upon a student  An assault with a weapon upon a student  Any assault upon a member of the school district staff

11 Category B Offenses  Simple assault on a student  Possession or sale of a weapon other than a firearm  Gang fight  Robbery or extortion  Sex offense  Terroristic threat  Sale and distribution of drugs  Harassment and bullying

12 PDS Parental Notification  PDSs must inform all parents of enrolled students of the designation and option to transfer within 15 calendar days of the NJDOE’s notice  Submit compliance documentation to Regional Offices by August 25

13 PDS Transfer Option  Transfer to a safe school within the district making AYP and not in need of improvement, if possible  Complete transfers by the beginning of the school year

14 PDS Corrective Action Plans  Due September 30 to Regional Office  Describe how the school will reduce the number of violent incidents  Include performance indicators, measurable targets and activities Coordinate with Title IV application Coordinate with Title IV application

15 Early Warning Schools (EWS)  Provides the opportunity to reduce violence before being labeled PDS  EWS meet the “dangerous” criteria for two consecutive years  EWS are required to develop safety plans to reduce incidents violence  EWS become a top priority for intensified district support for research- based programs and technical assistance

16 PDS PDSEWS

17 Audit of USCO Implementation  OIG entrance conference April 2, 2004  Received draft audit report May 5, 2005  Response to OIG June 20, 2005  Final audit report August 2005  Response to OSDFS September 30, 2005  Status report of actions taken March 2006

18 Audit Findings  Some schools were not identified as PDS Auditors questioned SEA decisions to grant appeals Auditors questioned SEA decisions to grant appeals  Inaccurate, Incomplete and Inconsistent Reporting of Incidents of Violence Focused on data collection system Focused on data collection system  Special Services Schools Were Not Identified As Persistently Dangerous

19 Positive Impact  Raised awareness of school safety  Focused attention on the need to analyze available data  Motivated schools to implement programs to address specific problems  Fostered communication with the community

20 SEA Challenges  Managing a complex data base of violence incidents  Identifying PDS out of 2500 schools  Providing training and technical assistance to schools on accurate reporting  Assuring compliance with the requirements

21 LEA Challenges  Notifying parents of the PDS designation without having a transfer option to offer  Requirement to transfer students to schools filled to capacity  Insufficient time to complete transfers when using current year data  Inadequate resources to institute programs and mechanisms to address safety issues

22 Concerns  Concentration on student transfers instead of supporting positive change  Degrading the TA relationship between the state and the local agencies by publicly labeling PDS  Creating tension between parents and schools by labeling schools with no transfer options

23 Concerns  Lack of a correlation between identified schools and community perceptions  Inaccurate reporting to avoid identification  High incidents based on the behavior of a small number of students  Ineffective use of resources  Lack of credibility

24 Primary Recommendation  Repeal the USCO provision as written Lack of supporting scientific research Lack of supporting scientific research Public labeling is not necessary for SEAs to hold schools accountable to reduce violence in schools and protect victims Public labeling is not necessary for SEAs to hold schools accountable to reduce violence in schools and protect victims Variability across states impedes a meaningful analysis of effectiveness Variability across states impedes a meaningful analysis of effectiveness

25 Recommendations if Retained  Expand the USCO policy to include: Uniform criteria for all states Uniform criteria for all states A clear definition of PDS A clear definition of PDS Dedicated funding to SEAs for the administration of the USCO Dedicated funding to SEAs for the administration of the USCO Dedicated funding to LEAs to implement corrective actions, provide transportation to transferred students and place perpetrators in alternative settings Dedicated funding to LEAs to implement corrective actions, provide transportation to transferred students and place perpetrators in alternative settings

26 Recommendations if Retained  Focus the victim of violent criminal offenses provision on the removal of the perpetrator instead of the victim  Emphasize the relief to victims rather than identification of PDS

27 Recommendations if Retained  Extend timelines for both identifying PDS and for providing transfers  Exempt special education schools from the transfer requirement  Permit the LEA submit a corrective action plan to the SEA in lieu of a transfer when other “comparable” schools are full

28 Recommendations if Retained  Permit LEAs to submit a corrective action plan to the SEA if the transfer may violate: Health, fire or safety laws or ordinances; labor contracts or board policies Health, fire or safety laws or ordinances; labor contracts or board policies An SEA-approved or court-ordered equity plan An SEA-approved or court-ordered equity plan

29 Conclusion  The purpose of USCO is admirable  Some positive outcomes have resulted from the requirement  The overall impact has been counterproductive  Recommend repeal of the requirement as written or changes


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