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Schilder: Violence Report Shows No Alarming Trends

The district reports on violence and substance abuse in the past school year.

Ed. Note: The number of incidents in the 2010-2011 school year actually decreased from the year before. The article has been corrected to reflect a previous error.

In comparison to the , the district saw a decrease in violence reports in the 2010-2011 year, with 76 reported last year and 139 reported the year before.

And Superintendent of Schools Michael Schilder said there are no real red flags in the reports.

“If you look at the incidents, there are no alarming trends,” he said.

Schilder presented the report at Tuesday’s board of education meeting with a breakdown of violence reported in the district in the one school year. He said that requirements have changed and there will now be two violence reports given each year from now on.

The first, Schilder said, will be given in October, and will account for all violence reports accumulated from January through the end of the school year. A second report will be made in February, and will outline violence reports in September through January.

But looking for now at the entire 2010-2011 school year, Schilder said, he is not concerned by what he sees.

As for violence, there were 29 incidents reported in the high school, 10 reported in the middle school and eight reported in the kindergarten through sixth grades. Examples of violence include simple assaults, fights, simple assault threats and sex offenses, of which there were two at the middle school.

“That was an incident of butt slapping,” Schilder said. “Boys thought it was appropriate to slap girls in the behind, and that was dealt with in a disciplinary manner and reported as a sex offense.”

Mike DiPascali, a senior at the high school and one of two student representatives on the board of education, said he is surprised by the results.

“I think it is normal for the older kids to have more cases of simple assault,” he said. “But I think for the kindergarten through sixth grades to have 20 percent of the grand total is a lot. When I was in kindergarten, I didn’t know what half of these incidents were, so I think it is a little strange.”

As for vandalism, there were eight reports in the high school, one report in the middle school and four reports in the lower grades, with most of the offenses being theft.

“There were 13 incidents of that this year, and the five-year average is 28.6,” Schilder said.

For weapons offenses, Schilder said, there was one reported at the middle school and two reported in the lower grades, and all had to do with pocket knives.

“There is zero tolerance for that,” he said. “But there is a difference in terms of consequences for a student who shows the pocket knife to someone else and someone who opens the blade.”

“And none of these were a threat-type situation,” he added.

As for substance abuse, there were 13 total incidents, with six for use and six for possession at the high school. The year before, Schilder said, there were 30 reports of substance abuse.

Schilder said all the incidents at the high school were for marijuana, either use or possession, and none of the students were charged with distribution.

Board of education president Evan Lerner commented that he thinks the number six is awfully small, unfortunately.

Schilder said teachers are trained to look out for evidence of use or possession.

“I’m not naïve, I’m sure there are more than six who are experimenting with illegal drugs,” he said. “But the teachers are very attentive to students who may be under the influence.”

Going forward, Schilder said, he is interested to see how the report will look in February once they have taken into account reports of bullying under the new state laws. At this point, he said, there have been 24 total investigations into bullying, but only two have been confirmed.

“Most of those investigations have resulted in being code of conduct violations, aside from the two confirmed,” he said. “We dealt with the others, but they have not been true bullying cases.”

“Certainly the number of investigations that we’re now launching has increased,” he added.

Despite the numbers, Schilder said he is not concerned with the results and doesn’t see any problems.

“We certainly would like all our numbers to be zero, but I don’t see any alarming trends right now,” he said. “We have to look at these situations as problems and counsel students appropriately.”

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