Thursday, August 21

Fewer dangerous city schools

The good news, from the DOE and the State, is that crime in the city's schools is on the wane: Of 25 city schools described as persistently dangerous by the State last year, 15 were removed from the list in light of improved safety and lower crime. The downside is that 11 city schools remain on the danger list. New York City also added more schools (six) to the state's list than any other area of the state.

In counterpoint, Comptroller William Thomson asserts that as many as one in five violent/criminal/safety incidents that occur in schools go improperly or incompletely reported. City leaders hope that a proposed amendment to the City Charter will improve school security by directing complaints of police misconduct to the Civilian Complaint Review Board (not the current norm) and requiring regular reporting on school violence to the DOE and NYPD.

In an article today, the Post documents a number of District 75 schools on the state's list -- D 75 schools enroll special need students with the most acute needs. Reports of persistent violence in D 75 schools, where staff ratios are far smaller than mainstream schools, raise difficult questions on all sides. And an AP story from am New York sets New York's improvements against a national canvas, noting without irony that the other 49 states document a total of 21 persistently dangerous schools compared to New York State's 19 (although reporting criteria vary from state to state).

Notably, despite pop-media visions of metal-detectors and box-cutter-wielding teens, "persistently dangerous" schools include elementary and middle schools, too. Under the provisions of NCLB, parents can request safety transfers for students enrolled at "dangerous" schools. But time is short before the start of school; those interested in seeking transfers should contact their school this week to explore the process.

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