This is actually a trick question.  According to the Unsafe Schools section 343 of Bulletin  741, a school can have 100% of its student body expelled for  murdering each other and the school will not be classified as dangerous, let alone persistently dangerous.

§343.      Unsafe Schools

[. . .

B.    Students attending a school that has been identified as a persistently dangerous school shall be afforded the opportunity to transfer to different school.

1.     Students attending an elementary, middle, or high school that has been identified as persistently dangerous shall be given the option to transfer to a public school within the school district in which the student’s current school is located, which offers instruction at the students’ grade level and which is not persistently dangerous, if there is such a school within that school district.

2.     A student who is enrolled in an alternative school or a special school which has been identified as persistently dangerous shall be given the option to transfer to another such public school within the school district in which the student’s school is located, which offers instruction at the student’s grade-level, for which the student meets the admission requirements and which is not persistently dangerous, if there is such a school within that school district.

. . .

5.     Schools must meet two of the following criteria for two consecutive school years to be identified as persistently dangerous. For purposes of these criteria, enrolled student body means the year-end cumulative student enrollment count, and firearm means a firearm as defined by the federal Gun-Free Schools Act.

a.     One percent or more of the enrolled student body is expelled for possession of a firearm on school property, on a school bus, or for actual possession of a firearm at a school-sponsored event.

b.     Four percent or more of the enrolled student body has been expelled for a crime of violence as defined by R.S. 14:2 occurring on school property, on a school bus or at a school-sponsored event.

c.     Six percent or more of the enrolled student body has been expelled pursuant to R.S. 17:416 for the following types of misconduct in the aggregate occurring on school property, on a school bus or at a school-sponsored event:

i.       immoral or vicious practices;

ii.       conduct or habits injurious to associates;

iii.       possession of or use of any controlled dangerous substance, in any form, governed by the Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Law;

iv.       possession of or use of any alcoholic beverage;

v.       cutting, defacing or injuring any part of a school building, any property belonging to the buildings or any school buses owned by, contracted to or jointly owned by any city or parish school board;

vi.       possession of knives or other implements which can be used as weapons, the careless use of which might inflict harm or injury;

vii.       throwing missiles liable to injure others; or

viii.       instigating or participating in fights.

6.     An LEA with one or more schools meeting two of these three criteria during one school year shall identify the problem, submit a corrective action plan to the DOE for approval and implement the corrective action. A school system should generally develop a corrective action plan within 20 school days from the time it is notified of the need for the corrective action plan.

. . .]

This definition was adopted so LDOE would not have to monitor or address dangerous or persistently dangerous schools and so no schools would be able to afford students a chance to transfer to another school because no schools could be classified this way!  The potential for this occurring was already noted by this web resource, National School Safety and Security Services.  This is exactly what happened in Louisiana.  When it was discovered that our definition actually flagged a few schools as dangerous it was tweaked, and by the looks of the latest definition. tweaked again.  (We had a few schools than failed one of the two measures the last year I performed this calculation.  FYI, I was the one at LDOE solely responsible for creating this report before I left.)

Potential ways in which NCLB’s “Persistently Dangerous School” component could create less safe schools: (From NSS&SS)

  1. States create unattainable definition
  2. States create unrealistic definition
  3. Eventual legal challenge to differing definitions across various states
  4. Underreporting/non-reporting of school crime
  5. Schools unable to demonstrate documented need for safety funding due to underreporting
  6. Transfer of funds from safety to academics within districts to meet academic standards of NCLB
  7. “Tunnel vision” focus on academics takes priority focus and funding away from safety
  8. Increased crime, violence, discipline problems, and liability

For starters . . because murders (and rapes and other horrible things) have to apply to 4% of the student population to fail one of the criteria, and according to this changed definition they do not get counted in the other two criteria, every single person in a school could be a murderer (assuming that was possible, I suppose if they murdered non-students?) and not fail either of the other two criteria. . . . presuming they didn’t use a gun or knife.  However because the current system only accepts one primary reason code for a disciplinary action, murder would trump any other reason code. . . you would think.  I think it’s also worth noting that for a school to meeting the 4% criteria (which is just one of the two) a school of 800 students would have to have 32 or more students expelled two consecutive years for committing murders.  I’m not sure any school on earth (except maybe a gladiator school in ancient Sparta) would ever come close to that number. . .  and that’s just one of the 2 criteria Louisiana has self-defined for identifying a “persistently dangerous” school.  Neat huh?  I’m sure I feel safer knowing this. . .  but I don’t think I’ll share this with my kids. . . just make sure they pack their body armor.

Thanks for Reforming our definitions, John White!

 

 

 

 

 

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3 thoughts on “Just How Many Murders Does it Take in Louisiana to Be Classified a “Persistently Dangerous School?”

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