The report is produced each year to share self-reported incidents from districts that include violence, vandalism, weapons offenses, substance offenses, and harassment, intimidation and bullying (HIB), according to a press release from the DOE about the 2012-2013 report.
According to the reports, the WOSD had 37 violent incidents; 12 vandalism incidents; eight weapons incidents; 47 substance incidents and 38 HIB incidents. The report also states the number of students enrolled in the district is 6,784.
Essex County as a whole had 1,604 incidents including, 690 violent incidents; 178 vandalism incidents; 117 weapons incidents; 182 substances incidents; and 437 HIB incidents.
Some important trends over the past two years, according to the release, include: the total number of incidents reported by districts decreased by nearly 5,000 or 19-percent, from 26,139 in 2011-2012 to 21,170 in 2012-2013; compared to last year, the number of incidents reported in the other incident categories decreased as well with violence down 4-percent; vandalism down 9-percent; weapons down 7-percent and substance abuse down 4-percent.
Districts also conducted 21,934 investigations into reported HIB offenses, a decline of nearly 40 percent from the 35,552 investigations conducted in 2011-12.
“We are pleased to see positive trends this year,” Christopher Cerf, Education Commissioner, said in the release. “Safe and secure learning environments are a crucial part of preparing kids for college and career, and we have invested significant time to provide support and coaching to districts to reduce incidents of bullying and other forms of violence. We applaud all of our districts for working to create safer schools for our students.”
While the violence and vandalism report transparently communicates the changes in self-reported incidents from year to year, the report does not identify the reasons for the changes, according to the release.
Changes from year to year may reflect more accurate reporting from districts, or may reflect the results of local school policies and programs to address violence, vandalism, substance abuse and bullying. Changes in all categories require continuous monitoring to ensure that the Department of Education and the local districts are making progress in ensuring safer schools for their students and community.
A copy of the report and summaries of district/school data in the Violence, Vandalism and Substance Abuse report can be found on DOE's website at www.nj.gov/education/schools/vandv/.