In the 2003-04 school year, after Philadelphia schools started a 24-hour-a-day, “zero-tolerance” discipline policy, a Pennsylvania report says the school district failed to remove the majority of violent students from regular schools, under-reported to police incidents involving weapons as state law requires and was incapable of keeping weapons out of schools, despite the use of metal detectors at all high schools, the Philadelphia Daily News reports. “The school district has a long way to go in getting a handle on this problem. I think they have to get serious about removing these kids who are violent and bring weapons to school,” said state safe schools advocate Harvey Rice.
Philadelphia school officials disputed the report and said city schools were safer than they have been in years. “We have the toughest disciplinary policy in the country. We report more incidents, we arrest more kids and we expel more kids than any major school district in the country,” said one official. Rice’s report said that of 8,391 serious cases, 4,312 were mandatory-expulsion offenses committed by students at regular schools. Only 804 of those were expelled to alternative disciplinary schools. The 3,508 other students received lesser punishments. Only 33.9 percent of 10,503 students completed a Saturday- morning behavior-modification program, an alternative to suspension. That’s a 5.7 percent decline from the previous year.