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Seven Schools in New Jersey Put on "Dangerous" List
The New Jersey Department of Education has named seven schools to a list it has published to identify "persistently dangerous" schools, as mandated by the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
The schools on the list, which will be published annually, will be required to notify parents within 15 days that they can ask for their children to be transferred to another school. Of the seven schools, six are are in southern New Jersey, and one is in East Orange.
Three of the schools are in the Camden City School District. They are: Camden High School, East Camden Middle School and Bonsall Family School. The others are the Lakeside Middle School, in Millville; Atlantic City High School in the Atlantic City School District; Patrick Healy Middle School in the East Orange School District; and Simmons Elementary School in the Clayton Public School District.
The list was a surprise to some parents and educators, who said uneven reporting of violent incidents must be penalizing those schools that were more honest.
"I'm flabbergasted that the state would classify us as violent," said Chris Finney, whose daughter graduated from Lakeside Middle School this year. "This is nothing like an inner-city school. It's very safe."
Schools named to the list may appeal the ruling, and officials at the Millville district have already said they will do so.
William L. Librera, the state education commissioner, said that schools named to the list will receive help from the state with programs and resources to curb violence in schools. While he said it was also good news that only seven schools out of the state's 2,362 were on the list, he could nevertheless understand why some of them chafed at being named to a list required by federal law.
"We share the frustration that some schools feel with the federal label of `persistently dangerous,' " Dr. Librera said. "However, it is important for everyone involved to understand that we have carried out this federal mandate with only the best intentions so that we can continue to ensure the safety of all children in our schools."
The state devised a complicated formula for determining which schools would be placed on the list, using reporting data provided by the schools for the last three school years. The list includes schools that had seven or more firearms offenses or assaults upon students or teachers for three consecutive years.
Schools are also given a score based on the number of other offenses that occur as a factor of their enrollment. Those offenses include simple assault on a student, possession or sale of a weapon other than a firearm, gang fights, robbery or extortion, sex offenses, terroristic threats, arson and the sale of drugs.
Seven Schools in New Jersey Make the 'Dangerous' List
New York Times
August 2, 2003
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