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Despite budget cuts, violent incidents remain about level this year

By thenotebook on Mar 2, 2014 11:03 AM
Photo: Kevin McCorry/WHYY

Ray Porecca, special education teacher at Feltonville School of Arts & Sciences, pickets against budget cuts at a recent rally outside the school. Porecca was assaulted by a student in his classroom earlier this year.

by Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks

[Editor's Note: Since this story first ran on Saturday, we've done additional reporting. The story has been updated to reflect per capita violent incident totals.]

The Philadelphia School District says the number of reported violent incidents in schools this year is comparable with last year's levels, ticking up 1.12 percent.

In total, District data shows that 1,266 incidents have been reported in the 2013-14 school year through January.

In the 2012-13 school year, 1,252 incidents were reported through January.

The District counts abductions and attempted abductions, assaults, drug and alcohol offenses, incendiary fires, morals offenses (which includes sexual assault), robbery, and weapons in the violent incident tallies.

By far, assaults are reported in schools more than any other offense. Through January 2014, 660 have been reported, compared to 644 in the same period last school year.

There have been 221 reported weapons incidents, well over one incident per school day. By this time last school year, there were 233 reported weapons incidents.

Between 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 District enrollment fell by 5,994 students. A more accurate look at the culture of violence in District schools this year can be seen by analyzing the rates of violent incidents per 100 students. Last year through January, the violent incident rate per 100 students was .89. This year, in that same time, the violent incident rate is .94.

This represents a 5.6 percent increase in incidents per 100 students.

This increase disrupts what had been a positive trend in the District. “The number of serious incidents have been declining for several years,” said District spokesman Fernando Gallard.

In September, the Pennsylvania Department of Education announced that only two Philadelphia School District schools qualified for the state's "persistently dangerous" list based on 2012-2013 data.

It was the third consecutive year that the District achieved a reduction of 40 percent or more in the number of schools listed as persistently dangerous.

Between 2011-12 and 2012-13, the total number of violent incidents district-wide declined 32 percent, from 4,059 to 2,756. The district's declining student population explained some of that fall off, but the overall percentage rate declined as well. Violent incidents per 100 students went down from 2.66 to 1.84.

At the time of the announcement, Superintendent William Hite touted the progress.

Read the rest of this story at NewsWorks

Comments (39)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 2, 2014 10:36 am
Is that including the 28 kids who were arrested at King on Thursday for a riot where the principal was assaulted? Or did the District find a way to cover it up?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 2, 2014 11:34 am
How come the local media didn't get hold of this information?
Submitted by Darnel X (not verified) on March 2, 2014 6:21 pm
First of all, don't believe the stats. They are lies. Principals are "urged" to under report. Lies, lies, lies.
Submitted by Bill Hangley (not verified) on March 2, 2014 11:09 am
???
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 2, 2014 12:21 pm
And the dozens suspended at Carver...
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 2, 2014 5:00 pm
Kids caught in the fray were suspended for 10 days. The 14th & 35th showed up. No investigation if you were fighting even if you were defending yourself you were automatically suspended for 10 days with the intent to expel and restricted from being on school property. So much for receiving an education.
Submitted by Wedemandsafeschools (not verified) on March 2, 2014 7:28 pm
So, who will get the expelled students? Roxborough? Fells? Mastery Charter at Gratz won't take them. Aspira Charter / Olney won't take them. Imhotep Charter won't take them. (I won't bother listing magnet schools like Hill Freeman and Central...) If the expelled students are put in other neighborhood schools, it is spreading the havoc around rather than addressing what happened.
Submitted by Wedemandsafeschools (not verified) on March 2, 2014 11:37 am
There is pressure from Hite to the Assistant Superintendents to not report. Hite is targeting schools where he thinks there are too many suspensions, including in-house suspensions. Students are able to smoke weed in school without repercussions because these are reportable offenses. Notice - the only person blamed is the teacher who tried to break up the fight. He is also the one who was hurt. Where is the PFT? Where is the administration? We are punching bags for the SRC/Hite/Gleason/Corbett and for a few students. Why?
Submitted by Poogie (not verified) on March 2, 2014 11:17 am
Who believes these statistics????
Submitted by Rob (not verified) on March 2, 2014 12:51 pm
It's also worth noting that ytd serious offenses are no longer reported on my school's website.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 2, 2014 6:20 pm
It's on the demographics page for all the schools on the main sdp website. It's where you find the pssa & school data.
Submitted by Center65 (not verified) on March 3, 2014 8:32 am
The data stopped being posted on 12/23
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 2, 2014 1:50 pm
Incidents appear to be down because there are fewer people to do the reporting.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 2, 2014 2:55 pm
And lots willing to lie about "serious incidents". Fighting doesn't even warrant a pink slip these days.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 2, 2014 4:00 pm
...and when teachers DO write pink slips, the dean of students sends them straight to the "vertical file". I have tried to follow up on several pink slips this year only to be told that they never existed. Even when staff members try to do the right thing, it doesn't matter if administration won't follow through. Clearly, instructions have come down to brush things under the rug whenever possible.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 2, 2014 4:07 pm
I know for a fact incidents have not declined at school levels but the fact is there is no one to report them. Administrators are wearing too many hats that are more critical than calling in "a fight" or "stolen item". Not to mention that after it is reported, it requires for the adm to follow up the reporting with more details on SIMS (part of the Principal login screen). No nurse, no school police, no dean, no in school suspension room, no school operations (finances), no parent liaison, only 1 secretary, no counselor, etc... And of course, not enough time in the day to do all these jobs.
Submitted by Poogie (not verified) on March 2, 2014 4:35 pm
You know the SRC is not dumb. They want to decrease the reported serious incidents. So lay off all the people who reported the incidents. Keep the same cumbersome bureaucratic reporting system designed when they had lots of people to staff it. And Bingo the serious incidents go down. Another brilliant plan to obfuscate and confuse the public. If only the SRC put its mind and effort into educating children instead of hiding things.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 2, 2014 4:00 pm
What happened @ King?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 2, 2014 6:55 pm
Huge fight among at least 30 students mostly girls.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on March 2, 2014 4:45 pm
The very last thing, positively the very last thing that Hite wants, is a decrease in serious incident reporting. He's loved to have war in all the real schools so closing them, would be even easier than it already is. Many of you folks STILL don't get the agenda which is hard for me to understand. Hite is NOT here to help the Public Schools.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 2, 2014 5:08 pm
Serious incident reporting is down 78 % at my school.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 2, 2014 5:58 pm
How about I have "official documentation" for suspensions and serious assaults from my administrator but he never inputed it in the system to report. So I have paperwork for 2 assaults on a staff member(me), morals offenses, assault on other students, weapons offenses & others. So to date my school has the grand total of 2 serious incidents reported but I alone for my class have the paperwork from the principal for 8 incidents that he never reported.
Submitted by Taxpayer (not verified) on March 2, 2014 7:39 pm
So let me get this right. If reports of violence go up, it would be blamed on a lack of funding? If reports of violence stay flat or go down, the numbers aren't right because of a lack of funding? Got it.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 2, 2014 7:35 pm
Up from your nap Taxpayer?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 3, 2014 1:44 am
I know, due to lack of funding, there isn't enough paper for the copier so there aren't enough pink slips to file the complaints.... ..hhhmmmmm.. Linda K.
Submitted by Taxpayer (not verified) on March 3, 2014 10:24 am
Are you serious??? You sound like a small child complaining about how life isn't fair. You actually expect to be taken seriously when you speak like this? Are you that far detached from the real world?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 3, 2014 10:04 am
NO ...it is called satire...you must not work for the SDP...... Incidents go like this: did you speak with the child? did you document? what alternatives did you provide the child? did you document? did you contact the home and speak with the parent [messages don't count] ? did you document? did you offer to have an after school detention with parental permission? did you document? did you send a letter or email to the parent? did you bother to see what you should have done to prevent the child from doing whatever he or she did before any of this happened? did you document? We All have to do this since Some of us think that the days gone by of just sending the child to the office for a stern talking to with the principal is what is going to fly now. No one gets pink slipped until it is serious and even then papers go missing if the person doing the reporting is considered weak, ineffective, and has poor classroom management. I don't do pink slips because I document and follow through with my calls to parents even on days like today when there is no school....why? because I can document that we had this conversation and save it for any serious matters that may or may not occur. Linda K.
Submitted by Taxpayer (not verified) on March 3, 2014 11:37 am
So you have a protocol to follow for a certain event and you find that too burdensome? But without the protocol, if you get accused of not doing your job, you would blame the lack of a protocol. Do you even remotely understand how ridiculous you people are starting to sound to the real world? Here's how it works: Boss: Can you do this job? Worker: Yes. Boss: Prove it to me. Worker: I will. 1 year later: Boss: You have done a terrific job. You're getting a raise because we don't want you to leave and work for a competitor. Worker: OK. How a bout a little more? or: Boss: This isn't working out. We are letting you go. Please find employment elsewhere. You seem to be living in a fantasy world where the rules of commerce shouldn't apply to you. The law of supply and demand shouldn't apply. The fact that we live in a world of limited resources and unlimited wants is irrelevant. You have supposedly educated people actually wishing a "pox", a witch's spell, on people who disagree with them. And you find any of that reasonable??? I can't wait for all of this to come into the court of public opinion. When Green implements the pay cuts and the marching starts I plan to take out a full page ad in the Inquirer with the quotes I have saved from here.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 3, 2014 12:49 pm
Nap over Taxpayer?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 3, 2014 3:31 pm
More like a coma Linda K.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 3, 2014 3:13 pm
Taxpayer, relax and take a chill pill.... After 23 years I know the drill and have been called upon to be an administrator [which I declined] in that I like my job and working with kids. I also have had the fn job of in house suspension duty. My point is this:It is the teacher adults who scream "handle this child " while other teachers and people like myself have gotten stuck demonstrating for these "seasoned" adults how to handle the students, parents and the protocol. My further point is that some teachers complain no one does anything but when you check it is the teacher who did not. Some deans of discipline and admins complain that no one does anything and when you check you find that they did not. It is silly and sometimes tedious the excuses all of "some" put forth as to why the child is acting out.....it takes paperwork these days to follow through before any parental neglect can be sited. It is the same for schools that ever so oddly have wonderful reports about the lack of student problems but when you go to the school the staff have a different view. Stop reacting. If you really want an idea of how it is in an SDP school, become a guest teacher for a week and you will see. You will see how some kids are targeted because they are not contributing to the raising of test scores and live out of the area whereas other kids who are good and have excellent test scores but don't live in the school boundaries are ever so easily overlooked and allowed to stay. Protocol for all not protocol for some is the issue. The SDP like the "real wold" of which you speak is made of flawed people who work, don"t work, are honest and those who lie. Teachers pay taxes just as you do and yet here we are buying the writing paper for instruction, the white paper fand envelopes for letters home, and the pink paper for discipline. Linda K.....by the way, all the SDP rules apply for me in that I work for the SDP....once again take a chill pill
Submitted by Poogie (not verified) on March 4, 2014 5:02 pm
Pink slips do not get acted and probably get thrown in the trash. I only fill them out so that the next time the 18 year child with no impulse control throws a book and takes out an eye of another student I have documented it. I can say I sent it to the AP and nothing happened. Maybe they will still blame for not filling out secret form 0007 which was not available. It is a moving target if you ask an administrator to help discipline a kid there is walkaways another form over the horizon to fill out since she APs are generally too busy drinking coffee to provide help. You file pink to cover your rear end. In a real school system the kids would be in ES or similarly getting help but in Philadelphia we cannot afford that help. Apparently we have never been able to afford for the 16 years I have been in system.
Submitted by Ray P (not verified) on March 3, 2014 6:05 am
Just to clarify, and I don't mean to defend the district here, I was never chastised as the article says. The quote I gave was meant as an example of what the district's response normally implies. In this case, the district's response was basically, "oh well, life goes on." I gave that quote as a means to say that we are damned if we do, damned if we don't.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 3, 2014 6:36 am
In my building this year every student fighting has been suspended, theft has been punished, serious incidents in which students or teachers were harmed have been referred to the EH21 process. Our pincipal has stood behind us and stood up to 440 when he hasn't agreed. The district's response has been to withhold resources from us, eg no itinerant or pt counselor until Dec when we got a two day appointment even with a sizeable ES population and an enrollment of over 600.
Submitted by First Grade Teacher (not verified) on March 4, 2014 4:04 pm
We're "encouraged" not to write pink slips. They are not even readily available in my building. Principals are seen as ineffective leaders if there are serious incidents reported at their building. Just because no one wrote it down doesn't mean it didn't happen.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 19, 2014 10:16 am
I know for a fact that principals do not report all of the serious incidents to the district. One of the things schools have to include in their school improvement plans is a plan to lower serious incidents. Since they know they can't really prevent fights and drugs and so forth they just don't report them. I caught a student selling drugs in the library. Told the dean. nothing happened. another student as he walked past me dropped a small bad of weed. He didn't notice so i discreetly picked it up and turned it over to the dean. he told me he couldn't be bothered with it and told me to just throw it out. a group of 4 students attacked 3 of our immigrant students in the library. I broke it up and reported it. nothing happened. then two weeks later 2 of those students assaulted me. i made sure that time the cops were called. they spend 3 weeks in Juvenal detention i had to track down the security video because the school and district wanted to give the run around saying the cameras didn't work and all of that. they plead guilty and were released right then and there and told they could go back to school because I couldn't prove that they had a history of violence. Why? because in the previous incidents the school never kept a report or sent one to the district as they are supposed to.
Submitted by Kevin McCorry (not verified) on March 4, 2014 4:17 pm
About the comments regarding King and Carver, here's the district's reply: "On Tuesday, February 25, a 12th grade female student at Engineering & Science High School reported to her principal that she was being harassed online. The principal identified 12 seniors and they were all suspended. All students were reinstated after a mandatory parent conference. No physical activity took place. On Friday, February 28, 14 students (various grades) from Martin Luther King High School were involved in an altercation at approximately 10:30am. The fight took place in the school and all of the students were identified. Each student received a suspension and will attend a group session on conflict resolution and cyber responsibility." -Kevin
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 19, 2014 10:27 am
I know for a fact that principals do not report all of the serious incidents to the district. One of the things schools have to include in their school improvement plans is a plan to lower serious incidents. Since they know they can't really prevent fights and drugs and so forth they just don't report them. I caught a student selling drugs in the library. Told the dean. nothing happened. another student as he walked past me dropped a small bad of weed. He didn't notice so i discreetly picked it up and turned it over to the dean. he told me he couldn't be bothered with it and told me to just throw it out. a group of 4 students attacked 3 of our immigrant students in the library. I broke it up and reported it. nothing happened. then two weeks later 2 of those students assaulted me. i made sure that time the cops were called. they spend 3 weeks in Juvenal detention i had to track down the security video because the school and district wanted to give the run around saying the cameras didn't work and all of that. they plead guilty and were released right then and there and told they could go back to school because I couldn't prove that they had a history of violence. Why? because in the previous incidents the school never kept a report or sent one to the district as they are supposed to. Neuroscience has proven that when students are in a stressful environment then they will not learn. yet, our school leaders all the way up the ladder don't seem to care enough about this issue to do anything.
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