Philadelphia School Crime Up–A Statistical Fluke?

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The Philadelphia public schools have reported a 41 percent increase in assaults, weapons offenses, and other serious incidents in the last school year, the Philadelphia Inquirer says. Officials attributed most of the increase not to more actual violence, but to a new policy that required principals to report all incidents or risk losing their jobs.

A total of 7,229 serious incidents were reported in school year 2002-03, including 976 weapons violations, up from 5,129 the year before. Most of the weapons were found in metal-detector scans or reported by a student or educator.

This school year, the district will target from 45 to 50 schools with chronic discipline problems for special help. “We realize some schools have problems,” said school safety officer Dexter Green. “What we intend to do at the beginning of the year is go into those schools ahead of time and do some prevention work.”

The Pennsylvania Department of Education today releases a report on schools termed “persistently dangerous” under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. About 25 of the city’s 260-plus schools are expected to be listed. Pennsylvania ie expected to report many more dangerous schools than some neighboring states, including New York and New Jersey. States may set their own definition of “persistently dangerous”; Pennsylvania uses a broader definition.

New York, which has the largest urban school system in the country, identified only two schools as dangerous. New Jersey had seven. Some states – including Ohio, Georgia, Washington, California, Florida, Illinois and Arkansas – put no schools on their lists.


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