Until last week’s school shooting in Roseburg, Or., the state’s schools have been free from serious gun violence since 1998’s rampage at Thurston High School in Springfield, reports The Oregonian. Expulsions for violence or weapons remained fairly steady over the past four years, at between 350 and 400 students annually. That’s under 0.1 percent of total school enrollment in the state. Educators say Oregon schools are safer since Thurston — and Colorado’s 1999 Columbine High School shootings in Colorado — because schools have enforced tough discipline against students with weapons and invested in campus security, violence prevention programs, and crisis response plans.
Schools must report expulsions for weapons and other serious offenses under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. State and federal law requires schools to have school safety and violence prevention programs. Oregon lawmakers have toughened laws about crime on campus — requiring a mandatory year’s expulsion for possessing a weapon and an appearance before a judge before an offender is released. The Roseburg shooting Thursday, when a 16-year-old sophomore was shot in the back before class by a 14-year-old freshman, was the first Oregon school shooting since Kip Kinkel sprayed the Thurston High School cafeteria with gunfire in 1998, killing two and wounding more than 20.