Department of Education Releases Violence Report; WO has Over 140 Incidents

The West Orange School District had 142 total incidents occur throughout the schools for 2012-2013, according to the DOE.

File Photo
File Photo
The West Orange School District had 142 incidents occur during the 2012-2013 school year, according to the New Jersey Department of Education’s annual Violence, Vandalism and Substance Abuse in the Schools report.

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/.

Scott December 06, 2013 at 12:28 PM
33% of the "incidents" were "substance abuse". Probably just High School kids smoking weed. That gets us down to 95 "incidents". Take out the 38 HIBs (the whole HIB thing is pretty bogus) and we're down to 57. 37 fights? Fuggedaboutit, and we're down to 20. Vandalism? What's that? Grafitti? Writing on a desk? 8 weapon "incidents" might be as simple as a kid with a pen knife or a Swiss Army knife. Kids'll be kids.
bbdoll December 06, 2013 at 07:33 PM
Scott, are you the new Gary?
john anthony prignano December 06, 2013 at 11:32 PM
bbdoll You're one of the greats. But let's not miss this opportunity. Scott, did Lee Harvey Oswald act alone ?
Georges December 07, 2013 at 08:50 AM
These reports are very misleading and more info should be given. 37 violent incidents were reported and it is minimal. The info needed is about the nature of the violence incidents. If knives or guns were not brought to school and the report is solely about scuffles between students, there is nothing to worry about unless it was gang related or racially motivated. When I was growing up in Catholic High School there was at least 1 fight per day. Of course, at the end we would love to have a clean sheet but it will never happen.
Adam Kraemer December 07, 2013 at 08:54 AM
This should serve as a wake up call to the board members and the school officials to do something to establish order and maintain safety in the school. The schools can do no wrong crowd needs to stand down. This is a serous issue.
Tom December 07, 2013 at 09:35 AM
Hey Scott I think we should eliminate all the other categories and then everything would be okay!
Scott December 08, 2013 at 03:16 AM
Hey, bbdoll and Tom. I forgot the :), sorry. Looking at this from a different angle - It's interesting to note that in Essex County there are 5 districts with enrollments in the 6000 range. Of those, SOMA beats WO 137 to 136, but West Orange has Montclair, Irvington, and Bloomfield beat. In the County overall, only Newark (with an enrollment of about 35,000 kids and 494 incidents) and East Orange (with about 10,000 students and 223 incidents) beat both SOMA and West Orange. I guess that's something we can brag about, #2 in our enrollment class and #4 overall. Way to go, WO!
Tom December 08, 2013 at 08:59 AM
What is your point Scott? Is it that our schools don't suck as much as others? Is it that our schools don't need to improve? Or is it that everyone should get a trophy?
Scott December 08, 2013 at 10:37 AM
Not at all, Tom. In the entire state of NJ, among schools with enrollments between 6000 and 6999, only SOMA sucks *more* than West Orange in this partucular measure (i.e. they reported one more "incident" that WO). If we look at ratios West Orange sucks more than Newark but still less than East Orange. Check the full list by clicking the link at the bottom of the article.
Scott December 08, 2013 at 11:02 AM
http://homeroom.state.nj.us/evvrs/Incident_Detail.htm is a link to definitions of what's considered "violence", "vandalism", etc. A weapon could be anything from a rocket launcher to a "sharp pen, pencil". Your tax dollars at work.
bbdoll December 09, 2013 at 09:48 AM
Scott , I think we can all agree , that if you're speaking hypothetically , then YES , the numbers could be skewed by pens and pencils . If you don't know this to be true , because I sure don't know it , then why are you starting this conversation ? How about you look into the reported violent crimes , from the actual police line items for the year , and then we can all have a bonafide conversation. In addition, my feeling about the rocket launcher is that it just doesn't belong on the same page with sharp pen (?) or pencil. Pun very much intended.


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