Friday, June 23, 2017

SCHOOL VIOLENCE, VANDALISM AND BULLYING ARE DOWN: SO WHY DOESN'T THE DISTRICT WANT TO COMMENT?

A recent statewide report on violence in schools finds that the South Orange Maplewood School District has seen a decrease in the past few years.

The report, issued earlier this year and just recently posted online, finds that the SO-MA district had 141 incidents of violence and vandalism in the 2015-2016 school year, down from 208 in 2014-2015 and 233 a year earlier.

Among those reports, the number of violent acts dropped from 105 in 2013-2014, to 95 in 2014-2015, and further to 82 last year.

Vandalism also decreased, from 67 incidents three years ago to 34 two years ago and just 20 last year.

Weapons were on the decline as well with 12 found on campuses in 2013-2014, 17 in 2014-2015, and only 11 last year.

These decreases also occurred as enrollment jumped by 120, from 6,752 in 2013-2014 to 6,872 in 2015-2016.

We then chose to look at reports of harassment, intimidation and bullying, or HIB, cases, which have been under scrutiny in recent years. The school board even had a lengthy training session on the topic several weeks ago.

Data supplied by the district found that HIB complaints were on the decline as well, with 95 HIB complaints filed in 2013-14, 70 in 2014-2015, and 37 in 2015-2016. As of May 3, 2017, there had been only 29 filed for this past school year.

We sought comment from the district on both issues on several occasions but they do not seem to want to give a reaction or a reason. Maybe they don't know why.

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