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VIOLENCE, VANDALISM AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE
IN NEW JERSEY PUBLIC SCHOOLS

2002-2003

The Commissioner’s Report to the Education Committees
of the Senate and General Assembly

NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

June 2004
PTM 1504-50

Commissioner’s Report to the Education
Committees of the Senate and General Assembly
On Vandalism, Violence, and Substance Abuse
In the Public Schools of New Jersey
July 1, 2002 to June 30, 2003

Based on the Electronic Violence
and Vandalism Reporting System (EVVRS)

William L. Librera, Ed.D.
Commissioner

Prepared by staff of the
Division of Student Services
Isaac Bryant
Assistant Commissioner

Susan B. Martz, Director
Office of Program Support Services

New Jersey Department of Education
100 River View Plaza, P.O. Box 500
Trenton, NJ 08625-0500

June 2004
PTM 1504-50


STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION


Table of Contents

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

INTRODUCTION

A. Legislative Charge

B. Purpose of the Report

C. Federal and State Context

1. Unsafe School Choice Option Policy
2.
Violence Awareness Week
3.
Public Hearings on Violence and Vandalism
4.
Penalties for Falsification of EVVRS Records
5.
Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying
6.
Administrative Code

D. The Reporting System

E. Keeping Kids Safe

Findings

A. Unduplicated Counts

B. Results by School Type

C. Header Information

D. Incident Frequency by Major Category

E. Incident Frequency by Type within Major Category

F. Cost of Vandalism

G. Disciplinary Actions Taken

H. Offenders and Victims

I. Data Summary

PROGRAMMATIC RESPONSE

A. Policy

1. Administrative Code
2.
Student Discipline
3.
Unsafe School Choice Option Policy
4.
Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying
5.
Violence Awareness Week
6.
Public Hearings on Violence and Vandalism
7.
Alternative Education

B. Prevention and Intervention Programs

1. Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act Program
2.
Core Curriculum Content Standards
3.
Intervention and Referral Services
4.
Positive Student Discipline Reform Demonstration Project
5.
Character Education Initiative
6.
New Jersey Center for Character Education
7.
Youth Gang Prevention and Intervention Project (Phase I)
8.
Children We Share: Partners in Student Discipline and Development (Phase I)
9.
Student Support Services Planning and Development Project
10.
Alternative Education
11.
Peer Transitions Project
12.
Community Services for Suspended and Expelled Youth
13.
Drug Abuse Education Fund Project
14.
Disaffected Youth Grant Program

C. Professional Development and Technical Support

1. School Emergencies and Crises
2.
Safe, Disciplined and Drug-Free Schools Exemplary Programs Showcase
3.
Student Support Services Planning and Development Conference
4.
Community Services for Suspended and Expelled Youth Conference
5.
Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying
6.
Electronic Violence and Vandalism Reporting System (EVVRS)
7.
Intervention and Referral Services
8.
Unsafe School Choice Option Policy
9.
Technical Assistance

D. Publications and Materials

1. Resource Manual for Intervention and Referral Services
2.
A Guide for the Development of a Districtwide School Safety Plan
3.
Safe, Disciplined and Drug-Free Schools Exemplary Programs Showcase
4.
Model Policy Prohibiting Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying
5.
Memorandum of Agreement between Education and Law Enforcement

E. Planning, Collaboration and Coordination

1. Attorney General’s Domestic Security Preparedness Task Force
2.
Truancy Working Group
3.
Collaboration with Mental Health Agencies and Student Support Personnel
4.
Other Collaborative Partnerships

F. Research, Evaluation and Data Collection

1. Evaluation/Data Collection Projects
2.
New Jersey Student Health Survey

G. Other

Licensing Examination for Educators

FUTURE DIRECTIONS

A. Technical Review of the Electronic Violence and Vandalism Reporting System

B. School Safety Manual: Best Practices Guidelines

C. School Emergencies and Crises Training

D. Youth Gang Prevention and Intervention Project (Phase II)

E. Children We Share: Partners in Student Discipline and Development

F. Student Conduct

G. Intervention and Referral Services

H. Safe, Disciplined and Drug-Free Schools Promising Practices

I. Social Norms Project

J. Social-Emotional Learning

K. Technical Assistance for SDFSCA and USCO

L. School Safety and Crisis Prevention and Response Conferences

Appendix A: Public School Safety Law*

Appendix B: Data Forms

Appendix C: Weapons and Substance Detail

Appendix D: District Totals by County

List of Figures and Tables

Figure 1: Incidents by School Type, 2002-03
Figure 2: Number of Schools by Range of Incidents, 2002-03
Figure 3: Incidents by Major Category
Figure 4: Types of Vandalism Where Districts Incurred Cost
Figure 5: Number of Suspensions by Duration
Figure 6: Placement of Students Removed or Suspended

Table 1: Location of Incidents
Table 2: Police Notification
Table 3: Incidents by Type
Table 4: Disciplinary Action Taken
Table 5: Offender Type
Table 6: Victim Type
Table 7: Three-Year Trends in Selected Incident Characteristics


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The Commissioner of Education’s Report on Violence, Vandalism and Substance Abuse in New Jersey Public Schools is submitted annually to the education committees of the Senate and Assembly of the New Jersey State Legislature. It provides the Legislature with data in four broad categories of incidents: violence, vandalism, weapons, and substance abuse. It also summarizes initiatives implemented by the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) to assist schools in addressing problems of violence.

This year’s report is the fourth to provide data from an Internet-based incident reporting system, the Electronic Violence and Vandalism Reporting System (EVVRS). The total number of incidents reported by school districts in 2002-2003 was 22,186, down from 22,744 (two percent decline) in 2001-2002.

Consistent with previous years’ data, more than two-thirds of all schools reported five or fewer total incidents in 2002-2003 with one school in three (34 percent) reporting no incidents at all. The distribution of the location of incidents also mirrored that of 2001-2002 with nearly one third (31 percent) taking place in the classroom and another 20 percent in the school corridor. Bias was involved in more incidents this year. The total of 152 represents an increase of 21 percent from 2001-2002 but fails to approach the high of 376 bias incidents reported in 1999-2000.

There was a small drop in the number of incidents of violence and a modest increase in the number of weapons incidents. The other two major reporting categories, vandalism and substances, remained relatively unchanged.

  • The violence category declined by five percent, driven primarily by reductions in the number of simple (11 percent decrease) and aggravated (18 percent decrease) assaults;

  • The number of incidents reported under vandalism increased only marginally (one percent), with a decrease in incidents involving damage to property (three percent) and bomb threats (31 percent) being principally offset by an increase in thefts (10 percent);

  • The number of incidents involving weapons increased by nine percent, accounted for principally by increases in incidents of possession involving knives, air guns and imitation guns (see Appendix C); and

  • The number of incidents reported under the substance abuse category decreased slightly (one percent), while a three percent decline in use of substances was offset by small increases in possession and sale/distribution.

In 2002-2003, out-of-school suspension was again the disciplinary action taken most frequently in response to reported incidents -- in 88 percent of the cases. The percentage of offenses committed by regular education students (71 percent) and students with disabilities (28 percent) remained fundamentally unchanged from the prior year. School personnel were identified as victims in 18 percent of cases, representing a decline from the prior year.

The NJDOE has aggressively pursued a variety of strategies to address the problems of student disruption and violence since the inception of the Safe Schools Initiative. The NJDOE’s most recent efforts to strengthen its approach to reducing school violence and improving school safety cover a broad array of policies, programs and other strategic initiatives, including the following:

  • Formation of a School Sector Advisory Committee of the Attorney General’s Domestic Security Preparedness Task Force to address the unique needs of schools for responding to potential attacks and threats. As a result of advisory committee planning, recommendations will be made for implementation in the 2004-2005 school year and beyond, including the development and dissemination of a new publication to be titled School Safety Manual: Best Practices Guidelines.

  • Development and dissemination of guidance documents, including: Resource Manual for Intervention and Referral Services (developed in support of N.J.A.C. 6A:16-7); and Model Policy Prohibiting Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying on School Property, at School-sponsored Functions and on School Busses (developed in support of N.J.S.A. 18A:37-13 et seq.).

  • The adoption of new regulations that impose a penalty on a school employee who knowingly falsifies a report of an incident of violence and vandalism, in accordance with the authorizing statute [N.J.S.A. 18A:17-46(1)]; the drafting of regulations on student conduct for inclusion in the chapter of administrative code, N.J.A.C. 6A:16, Programs to Support Student Development; and the adoption of regulations in 2001 addressing school safety, violence and health services in N.J.A.C. 6A:16;

  • The development and implementation of an Unsafe School Choice Option Policy, in accordance with the provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001;

  • Hosting a statewide conference for developers of violence and substance abuse prevention and intervention programs designated as exemplary by the United States Department of Education to showcase their programs to New Jersey educators. The presentations and conference proceedings were videotaped and copies disseminated to all New Jersey school districts.

  • Implementation of the Positive Student Discipline Reform Demonstration Project; the Intervention and Referral Services Initiative; the Student Support Services Planning and Development Project; the Community Services for Suspended and Expelled Youth Project; the Disaffected Youth Grant Program; and the Character Education Initiative, including establishment of the New Jersey Center for Character Education at Rutgers University;

  • Collaborative initiatives, including: the Attorney General’s Domestic Security Preparedness Task Force Infrastructure Advisory Committee-School Sector; the consolidated New Jersey Student Health Survey developed in partnership with the Department of Health and Senior Services and the Department of Law and Public Safety; co-sponsorship of the Stop the Pain: New Jersey Cares About Bullying Conference with the Department of Law and Public Safety; the Truancy Working Group composed of representatives from the Legislature, the Administrative Office of the Courts and the Department of Human Services; the Peer Transitions Program in cooperation with the Department of Health and Senior Services; and collaboration with the Department of Human Services, the Department of State, Attorney General’s Education Law Enforcement Working Group, the Violence Institute of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), the New Jersey School Boards Association, the New Jersey Association of School Administrators, the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association, the New Jersey Education Association, the New Jersey Pupil Services Administrators Association, the New Jersey Counselors Association, the Association of Student Assistance Professionals of New Jersey, the New Jersey Association of Mental Health Agencies, the New Jersey Association of School Psychologists and other organizations, associations and agencies.

The NJDOE is committed to providing ongoing support for school district efforts to improve their comprehensive school safety programs and further reduce the levels of violence, vandalism and substance abuse in New Jersey schools. Continued training opportunities for both school administrative and support personnel, refinement of the Internet-based reporting system and analysis of these data will assist local districts and the NJDOE to accurately track progress in making schools safe for all students and staff.


INTRODUCTION

A. Legislative Charge

In 1982, N.J.S.A. 18:53 (see Appendix A), was signed into law. The "Public School Safety Law" was a response to a problem long recognized by the state Legislature, violence and vandalism in the schools. The law stipulated that:

The Commissioner of Education shall each year submit a report to the Education Committees of the Senate and General Assembly detailing the extent of violence and vandalism in the public schools and making recommendations to alleviate the problem.
(N.J.S.A. 18:53).

The law has a significant local component: it requires that school staff who witness or who have knowledge of an incident of violence file a report of the incident with the school principal and, as amended in 2002, that the superintendent of schools hold a public hearing in the third week of October summarizing the data submitted to the department and submit a transcript of the proceedings to the department.

B. Purpose of the Report

The Commissioner’s report provides the Legislature with data in four broad categories of incidents: violence, vandalism, weapons and substance abuse. Analysis of trends yields indications of progress and of concern and provides guidance to the department as it endeavors to focus its resources appropriately. In this report, the department also notifies the Legislature and the public of the actions taken by the Commissioner, State Board of Education and the Department of Education (DOE) to address the problems indicated in the data. Since 1994 when the State Board of Education adopted a resolution supporting implementation of the Department of Education’s Safe Schools Initiative, the department has embarked on various actions designed to address the problem of school violence and disruption documented in the incident reporting system. The department’s recent actions under the Safe Schools Initiative are described in the Programmatic Response section of this report.

C. Federal and State Context

Provided below are summary descriptions of federal and state statutes and regulations that support the need for accurate and complete data collection under the Electronic Violence and Vandalism Reporting System (EVVRS). The intent of these requirements is to support the provision of safety and security for students and to prevent unnecessary or extended interruptions to student learning.

The data gathered under the EVVRS is an excellent source of information for helping schools to conduct comprehensive needs assessments, including the identification of patterns of incidents (e.g., types, locations, times, individuals or groups involved) consistent with the statutory and regulatory information provided below. The identification of priority needs based upon objective information is the cornerstone of effective planning for appropriate educational responses to school safety needs.

1. Unsafe School Choice Option Policy

The Unsafe School Choice Option provision (Title IX, Part E, Subpart 2, SEC. 9532) under the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001 sets forth the following:

Each State receiving funds under this Act shall establish and implement a statewide policy requiring that a student attending a persistently dangerous public elementary school or secondary school, as determined by the State in consultation with a representative sample of local educational agencies, or who becomes a victim of a violent criminal offense, as determined by State law, while in or on the grounds of a public elementary school or secondary school that the student attends, be allowed to attend a safe public elementary school or secondary school within the local educational agency, including a public charter school. (italics added)

The NJDOE’s Unsafe School Choice Option (USCO) Policy was adopted by resolution by the State Board of Education in June 2003. All local educational agencies receiving NCLB funds must comply with the provisions of the policy, as appropriate.

The USCO statute and the NJDOE’s USCO policy contain two provisions that apply to local educational agencies (LEAs) receiving funds under NCLB: 1) persistently dangerous schools; and 2) victims of violent criminal offenses. Effective the beginning of each school year, LEAs receiving NCLB funds must be prepared to complete the transfer of students who choose to exercise the option offered under Provision I and Provision II of the USCO policy, as appropriate. Compliance with the policy is a condition of receiving funds under any and all titles under NCLB. Chief school administrators annually will be required to certify compliance with the NJDOE’s USCO policy in their applications for NCLB funds.

The maintenance of accurate and complete records of incidents of violence, vandalism and substance abuse is particularly important since the EVVRS is the data source used by the NJDOE to determine persistently dangerous schools under the USCO Policy. Additionally, schools are required to report information on victims of violent criminal offenses, pursuant to the USCO Policy.

The required policy for these school safety requirements may be found at the following Web site: http://www.nj.gov/njded/grants/nclb/policy/unsafe.htm. A question and answer document can be found at: http://homeroom.state.nj.us/evvrs/uscopolicyqanda.doc. A fact sheet describing the process for determining the policy and summarizing key issues is located at: http://www.nj.gov/njded/grants/nclb/policy/unsafe_facts.htm

2. Violence Awareness Week

In January 2002, a state law (N.J.S.A. 18A:36-5.1) was passed designating the third week of October each year as "School Violence Awareness Week." During this week, school districts are required to organize activities, such as age-appropriate forums for student discussions on conflict resolution, as well as issues of student diversity and tolerance. Law enforcement personnel must be invited to join members of the teaching staff in the discussions. Also, programs must be provided for school board employees that are designed to help them recognize warning signs of school violence and to instruct them on recommended conduct during an incident of school violence.

3. Public Hearings on Violence and Vandalism

In January 2002, a state law (N.J.S.A. 18A:17-46 et seq.) was passed requiring each chief school administrator to conduct public hearings on all acts of violence and vandalism which occurred in the previous school year. The proceedings of the pubic hearing must be transcribed and kept on file by the local board of education, which must make the transcript available to the public.

Verification of the annual report must be part of the NJDOE’s monitoring of the school district. The local board of education is required to provide ongoing staff training in fulfilling the reporting requirements pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:17-46. Additionally, the majority representative of the school employees must have access monthly to the number and disposition of all reported acts of school violence and vandalism.

4. Penalties for Falsification of EVVRS Records

In compliance with N.J.S.A. 18A:17-46 et seq., the NJDOE has adopted new regulations [N.J.A.C. 6A:16-5.3(f)] that impose a penalty on a school employee who knowingly falsifies a report of an incident of violence and vandalism.

5. Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying

Legislation (N.J.S.A. 18A:37-13 et seq.) enacted in September 2002 required each school district to adopt a policy prohibiting harassment, intimidation and bullying on school property, at school-sponsored functions and on school buses by September 2003. To assist school districts in developing these policies, the legislation required the NJDOE to develop and issue a model policy applicable to grades kindergarten through twelve. The NJDOE’s model policy titled Model Policy Prohibiting Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying on School Property, at School-sponsored Functions and on School Busses can be found at http://www.state.nj.us/njded/parents/bully.htm. Schools must report on the EVVRS all incidents of harassment, intimidation and bullying that apply to the definition of harassment, intimidation and bullying under the statute.

Each school district is granted local control over the contents of the policy and ancillary procedures, but, at a minimum, the ten components set forth in the authorizing statute must be addressed in a school district’s policy prohibiting harassment, intimidation and bullying. In part, the provisions of the statute require school district’s to stipulate both the consequences and the remedial actions for persons violating the policy; persons who engage in reprisal or retaliation against someone who reports a violation of the policy; and persons who falsely report allegations of harassment, intimidation and bullying as a means of retaliation or as a means of harassment, intimidation or bullying.

The NJDOE recognizes that decisions about consequences and actions to be taken in response to violations of policies prohibiting harassment, intimidation and bullying should take into consideration the unique circumstances of the acts and the persons involved, as well as the unique conditions and characteristics in each school district. The NJDOE also recognizes that these decisions must comport with existing school district policies, including those that address the provisions of N.J.A.C. 6A:16, Programs To Support Student Development, in general, and N.J.A.C. 6A:16-5.1, Code of student conduct, in particular, as well as the provisions of the district’s Memorandum of Agreement Between Education and Law Enforcement Officials, pursuant to N.J.A.C. 6A:16-6, Law Enforcement Operations For Substances, Weapons, and Safety.

6. Administrative Code

The State Board of Education approved a new Chapter of administrative code titled Programs to Support Student Development (N.J.A.C. 6A:16) in April 2001. The chapter includes new subchapters that address school safety issues, including:

  • Codes of student conduct;

  • Emergency and crisis management plans;

  • Incident reporting;

  • Access to juvenile information;

  • Firearms, weapons and assault offenses; and

  • Law enforcement operations for substances, weapons and safety.

The regulations also contain subchapters on comprehensive substance abuse programs, substance abuse intervention, reporting allegations of child abuse and neglect, intervention and referral services, alternative education, home or out-of-school instruction for general education students and school health services.

D. The Reporting System

Districts now report incidents over the Internet. The Electronic Violence and Vandalism Reporting System, http://homeroom.state.nj.us (EVVRS), deployed in March 2000, requires districts to report electronically information about individual incidents – including offender and victim information. An EVVRS User Manual, accessible on the EVVRS homepage, contains definitions and general guidance for reporting.

The department recognizes that the way in which districts interpret and apply the definitions in the manual varies. That is, there are differences in local standards for reporting incidents. For example, given an altercation between two students, one district might consider it a minor scuffle and not report it on the EVVRS, while another may consider it a fight sufficiently serious to report. The department recognizes that this kind of difference in perspective introduces "error" into the system, i.e., a departure from the true number that would be reported if everyone interpreted and applied the definitions in the same way. Similarly, a shift in responsibility for reporting within a school or district can produce changes in violence and vandalism figures reported year-to-year and thus represents another potential source of inaccuracy.

To reduce errors and promote consistency in reporting, the department has revised the incident definitions to provide greater detail and clarify, and to bring the definition of all incidents in line with state criminal statute and code. In addition, the department created "scenarios" for those types of incidents where districts might readily differ in their application of standards for reporting. The scenarios describe incidents within the context in which they occur and provide considerations to use to select the correct incident category. The revised incident definitions and the scenarios were distributed to all chief school administrators, included in the revised EVVRS User Manual, and posted separately on the EVVRS homepage. During its annual EVVRS training for district administrators and EVVRS account users conducted in the spring of 2004, the department presented an overview of these two documents, explicated statutory and code changes affecting district reporting responsibilities, e.g., the Unsafe School Choice Option Policy as required under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), and demonstrated the entering, modifying and verifying of data on the EVVRS.

E. Keeping Kids Safe

The department has created a new Web site "Keeping our Kids Safe" at http://www.state.nj/njded/students/safety to emphasize the importance of observing School Violence Awareness Week in October and encouraging districts to find diverse ways to create a safe school environment for all students at all times. It contains in one place all of the information that relates to safe and drug-free schools, student health, a safe physical environment, and student behavior issues.


Findings

A. Unduplicated Counts

This report provides unduplicated counts of incidents for the total number of incidents and the total by major reporting category. Thus, the total for the four incident categories do not add up to the grand total of all incidents. Prior to 1999-2000, the total number of incidents of violence, for example, was the sum of each type of violent incident, e.g., threat, simple assault. Beginning with the introduction of the EVVRS in 1999-2000, if a single incident included a threat and a simple assault, each type is recorded and counted, but in deriving a total for the number of incidents of violence, the incident that included both a threat and a simple assault would be counted once. Similarly, in calculating an unduplicated total of the number of incidents, an incident that included a fight and damage to property would count as one incident, as well as one incident of violence and one incident of vandalism. Thus, totals, as indicated, are unduplicated counts of the number of incidents within a category. A bias incident that included violence and vandalism would be counted as one bias incident in addition to being counted in the two major reporting categories.

B. Results by School Type

The following analysis examines differences in the number of incidents by the type (i.e., grade range) of the school. For the purposes of this analysis, an elementary school is defined as any school that ends at grade 6 or below; a middle school is any school that ends in the 7 through 9 grade range, and a high school is defined as any school that ends at grade 10 or above. Charter schools are included and are categorized in the same manner. Schools with only students with disabilities had no data on grade range available; so their data along with those of adult evening high schools are included under "Other" in the chart below.

Nearly half the incidents (49 percent) took place in high schools, approximately a third (35 percent) occurred in middle schools and 15 percent in elementary schools. These proportions are very similar to those reported in the three prior years. Figure 1 below shows the number of incidents occurring in each type of school in 2002-2003. The "Other" category includes both nongraded special services school district schools, as well as adult education high schools.

Incidents by School Type, 2002-03></p>
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Figure 1: Incidents by School Type, 2002-03

Regarding the distribution of incidents across schools, one school in three (34 percent) reported no incidents. When one includes this group with no incidents, approximately two-thirds of schools (68 percent) reported five or fewer incidents, similar to the 69 percent reported in 2001-2002. Six to ten incidents occurred in ten percent of schools, 11-24 in 11 percent and 25 or more in 12 percent of all schools. Thus, more than ten incidents reported by 23 percent of schools (n=556).

Figure 2: Number of Schools by Range of Incidents, 2002-03
Figure 2: Number of Schools by Range of Incidents, 2002-03

C. Header Information

Header information is the data that a district records for every incident and includes:

  • the date and time of the incident;

  • the location of the incident (optional field);

  • whether police were notified and if a complaint was filed; and

  • whether bias was involved.

The date and time data are primarily for local use and were not analyzed. The distribution of data on the location of incidents is nearly identical to that reported for 2001-2002 (see Table 1). Three incidents in ten occurred in the classroom; overall, three in four occurred inside the school building.

______________________________________________________________________

Table 1: Location of Incidents

Location

# Incidents

% of Total

# Incidents

% of Total

Cafeteria

1,719

8%

1,769

9%

Classroom

6,296

31%

6,302

31%

Corridor

4,060

20%

4,041

20%

Other inside school

3,345

16%

3,363

17%

School grounds

2,691

13%

2,288

11%

Bus

711

3%

772

4%

Building exterior

418

2%

485

2%

Other outside

1,196

6%

1,203

6%

Total

20,436

100%

20,223

100%

Missing*

2,308

1,836

* Districts are not required to provide information on the location of incidents.

Police were notified in approximately one-third (35 percent) of all incidents reported by districts. Complaints were filed either by the district, parent or student in half the cases about which police were notified. The percentages in Table 2 below are consistent with prior years.

___________________________________________________________________

Table 2: Police Notification

2001-2002

2002-2003

# Incidents Reported

% of Total

# Incidents Reported

% of Total

None

15,394

68%

14,280

65%

Notified, no complaint

3,675

16%

3,947

18%

Notified, complaint filed

3,662

16%

3,893

18%

Total

22,731

100%

22,120

101%*

Missing

13

66

* Total exceeds 100% due to rounding.

Districts reported 152 incidents of bias in the 2002-2003 school year, a one-year increase of 21 percent from the total number of incidents of bias in 2001-2002. This follows one-year decreases of 52 and 26 percent reported in 2001-2002 and 2000-2001 respectively.

D. Incident Frequency by Major Category

Figure 3 displays the total unduplicated count of incidents by each of the four major reporting categories for the past two years. There were fewer incidents of violence (a decline of five percent) and a greater number of weapons offenses (an increase of nine percent), while there was essentially no change in the number of incidents of vandalism (a one percent increase) and substance offenses (a one percent decrease).

Figure 3: Incidents by Major Category
Figure 3: Incidents by Major Category

E. Incident Frequency by Type within Major Category

The count of incidents by type is shown below in Table 3. Any one incident may be of more than one type, e.g., fight and damage to property, and, therefore, may appear in more than one category. The overall five percent decrease in violence is indicated in the 11 percent decrease in the number of simple assaults and a nine percent decrease in the number of threats. The number of fights reported increased only marginally. In the vandalism category, the 31 percent decease in bomb threats and 10 percent

Table 3: Incidents by Type

2001-2002

2002-2003

Change

Incident Type

# of Incidents

# of Incidents

N

%

Violence
Simple Assault

5,673

5,070

-603

-11%

Aggravated Assault

438

358

-80

-18%

Fight

5,702

5,844

142

2%

Gang Fight

53

46

-7

-13%

Robbery

49

46

-3

-6%

Extortion

27

18

-9

-33%

Sex Offense

396

429

33

8%

Threat

2,500

2,269

-231

-9%

Vandalism
Arson

148

119

-29

-20%

Bomb Threat1

194

134

-60

-31%

Burglary

185

157

-28

-15%

Damage to Property

2,140

2,082

-58

-3%

Fireworks

93

133

40

43%

Theft

1,449

1,594

145

10%

Trespassing

213

210

-3

-1%

Weapons
Firearm2

14

10

-4

-29%

Other Weapon

1,396

1,525

129

9%

Bomb Offense

2

1

-1

-50%

Substances
Use

2,036

1,975

-61

-3%

Possession

788

836

48

6%

Distribution

104

116

12

12%

1. For 2001-2002, the total of 194 includes three fake bombs; of the total of 134 for 2002-2003, there were six fake bomb incidents reported.

2. Firearm incidents include handgun and rifle incidents only. Incidents involving air guns and imitation guns are classified as "Other Weapons," as federal law does not classify them as firearms.

increase in thefts are most notable. In the weapons category, the nine percent increase in the possession, use, or sale/distribution of weapons other than firearms is reflected in increases in the number of incidents involving air guns, imitation guns and knives (see Appendix C). Overall, there was a one percent decrease in the number of incidents of possession, use or distribution of substances; however, there were some increases and decreases in terms of the types of substances involved: the percentage of incidents involving alcohol (17 percent) and prescription drugs (18 percent) both increased while those involving marijuana (seven percent), narcotics (43 percent), amphetamines (29 percent), and depressants (30 percent) decreased (see Appendix C).

F. Cost of Vandalism

Districts reported an unduplicated total of 1,376 incidents of vandalism in which they incurred cost - a decline of three percent from 2001-2002. The total cost to all districts was $614,886, a decline of 20 percent from 2001-2002. Property damage (71 percent) and theft (26 percent) accounted for most of the incidents resulting in costs to districts (see Figure 3). As multiple types of vandalism were involved in a few incidents, the total by type of vandalism in Figure 3 exceeds the unduplicated total of 1,376 incidents.

Figure 4: Types of Vandalism Where Districts
Incurred Cost
Figure 4: Types of Vandalism Where Districts Incurred Cost

G. Disciplinary Actions Taken

In 88 percent of the cases where disciplinary actions were taken, students who committed an offense received an out-of-school suspension. Removal to an alternative program was used in only two percent of cases. There was virtually no change from 2001-2002 (see Table 4).

Table 4: Disciplinary Action Taken

2001-2002

2002-2003

Disciplinary Action

# of Actions Taken

% of Total

# of Actions Taken

% of Total

Expulsion

41

0%

66

0%

Removal

551

2%

485

2%

In-School Suspension

1,414

6%

1,286

6%

Out-of-School Suspension

19,256

87%

19,448

88%

Other

993

4%

882

4%

Total

22,255

100%

22,167

100%

Half of the out-of-school suspensions (47 percent) were for less than five days. Twenty percent were for 10 days or more (see Figure 5). Districts issued suspensions of five days more frequently than any other duration - in 4,496 cases (23 percent).

Figure 5: Number of Suspensions by Duration
Figure 5: Number of Suspensions by Duration

Of the 1,097 students placed in an alternative setting, 622 students were placed in an in-district alternative program or school and 364 were provided home instruction. Of the 111 students placed in an out-of-district program, 15 attended a county alternative education program. See Figure 6.

igure 6: Placement of Students Removed or Suspended
Figure 6: Placement of Students Removed or Suspended

H. Offenders and Victims

In 2002-2003, regular education students constituted 72 percent of the offenders in the cases where the offender was known. Students with disabilities, who represent 16 percent of the student population, again constituted slightly more than one quarter (28 percent) of offenders. The distribution of offender types is similar to that of 2001-2002. See Table 5.

Table 5: Offender Type

2001-2002

2002-2003

# of Offenders

% of Total

# of Offenders

% of Total

Regular Education Student

14,472

72%

14,575

71%

Student with Disability

5,519

27%

5,649

28%

Student from Other District, Non-Student

173

1%

182

1%

Total

20,164

100%

20,406

100%

Note. Omits cases where offender is unknown.

Regular education students constituted a greater percentage of victims in 2002-03 (64 percent) than in 2001-2002 (56 percent). The data in Table 6 also show a decline in the number of school staff (includes contracted staff) who were victims of an offense of any kind. The percentage of students with a disability who were victims (17 percent) nearly mirrors their percentage (16 percent) in the student population.

Table 6: Victim Type

2001-2002

2002-2003

# of Victims

% of Total

# of Victims

% of Total

Regular Education Student

4,541

56%

5,630

64%

Student with Disability

1,497

19%

1,511

17%

Student from Other District, Non-Student

115

1%

114

1%

School Personnel

1,923

24%

1,569

18%

Total

8,076

100%

8,824

100%

I. Data Summary

The total number of incidents of 22,186 represents a decrease of two percent compared with the total of 22,744 reported in 2001-2002. When one examines data on particular aspects of the incidents, such as location, reported on the EVVRS as related to the incidents over the past three years, consistency among the three years is evident. In the selected incident-related data summarized below, the percentages of any one reporting category, with the exception of location (corridor) and victim type, changed no more than one to three percentage points – in some cases there was no change.

Table 7: Three-Year Trends in Selected Incident Characteristics

2000-2001

2001-2002

2002-2003

Location
Classroom

32%

31%

31%

Corridor

19%

12%

12%

School Grounds

13%

13%

11%

Police Notification
Notified, no complaint filed

16%

16%

18%

Notified, complaint filed

17%

16%

18%

Distribution of schools by number of incidents
0-5

66%

69%

68%

6-10

10%

9%

10%

11-25

11%

11%

11%

More than 25

11%

11%

12%

Disciplinary Action
Removal to Alternative Program

2%

2%

3%

In-School Suspension

6%

6%

7%

Out-of-School Suspension

87%

88%

85%

Offender Type
Regular Education Student

72%

72%

71%

Student with Disability

27%

27%

28%

Victim Type
Regular Education

60%

56%

64%

Student with Disability

19%

19%

17%

Staff

19%

24%

18%

Where incidents occur, the frequency with which police are involved, the number of schools reporting a given number of incidents, the district’s disciplinary response and the type of student involved change very little year to year. This consistency suggests that the factors that influence the occurrence of violence, vandalism and substance abuse in schools are general and, to an extent, constant.

Although the NJDOE recognizes that there is interdistrict variation in the categorization and reporting of reporting incidents, the department is optimistic that the recent revision of the incident definitions and the development of the incident scenarios will bring greater uniformity to the reporting process. Because of this interdistrict variation, however, it is inappropriate, at this time, to compare data between or among districts. The department uses the data to analyze trends to determine the types of programs needed and to measure progress in its efforts to assist districts in creating safe learning environments for all students. With consistent reporting, districts can use trend data in conjunction with other information on student conduct to gauge the success of their prevention programs and intervention strategies that address identified problems and patterns.


PROGRAMMATIC RESPONSE

New Jersey’s schools are basically safe places, despite perceptions cultivated by terrible tragedies that have occurred in our nation’s schools, including Littleton, Colorado in 1999, as well as the threat to our homeland security with the events of September 11, 2001. School districts and the state have implemented programmatic responses to foster school safety at all points of the continuum, from prevention through crisis response and recovery. Comprehensive responses include the following: developing clearly defined student behavior policies and codes of student conduct; assessing the immediate surroundings, as well as the social and emotional learning climate of the school community; developing an emergency and crisis management plan with clearly defined plans, procedures and mechanisms for responding to emergencies and crises; implementing research-based prevention and intervention programs; and planning for the effective use of available community resources.

The NJDOE has aggressively pursued a variety of policy and program strategies to address the problem of disruption and violence since the beginning of the Safe Schools Initiative in 1994. The following is a summary of the department's most recent efforts to strengthen the assistance offered to school districts to increase school safety and reduce school violence.

A. Policy

1. Administrative Code.

The chapter of administrative code titled Programs to Support Student Development (N.J.A.C. 6A:16) adopted by the State Board of Education in April 2001 specifies minimum standards for district boards of education in establishing policies and procedures and in operating programs to support the social, emotional and physical development of students.

2. Student Discipline

A working group was established within the NJDOE to review student discipline in response to issues that were raised during the public comments on N.J.A.C. 6A:16, Programs to Support Student Development. A major activity of the working group was the administration of nine policy forums in the fall of 2001 that were designed to engage representatives from statewide education associations and constituency groups in identifying a broad rage of student discipline concerns and possible remedies for department consideration.

The report titled Final Report and Recommendations on Student Discipline for Consideration by the New Jersey Department of Education summarizes the outcomes of the policy forums and is available on the NJDOE Web site at http://www.state.nj.us/njded/code/title6a/chap29/discipline

The following recommendations have been or are in the process of being implemented:

  • Development of a regulatory framework for student discipline – In response to this recommendation, a student discipline code discussion paper was approved by the State Board of Education for dissemination and comment. The paper can be found at the following Web site: http://www.state.nj.us/njded/code/title6a/chap29. In July 2004, regulations on student conduct will be proposed to the State Board of Education as a subchapter of the chapter of administrative code titled Programs to Support Student Development (N.J.A.C. 6A:16).

  • Convening an advisory panel to explore consistent uses of programs and policies regarding alternative education for general education students who are suspended or expelled from school. As a result of this recommendation, the NJDOE convened the advisory panel, and the findings of the panel are under consideration by the department’s internal working group on student discipline.

  • The NJDOE is considering implementation of the remaining recommendations from the student discipline policy forums, which include the following activities:

    • Development or revision of guidance documents and publications (to be completed subsequent to the adoption of regulations on student conduct).

    • Provision of training and technical assistance (to be completed subsequent to the adoption of regulations on student conduct).

    • Increased ongoing interagency and intra-agency collaboration.

3. Unsafe School Choice Option Policy

As a condition for receiving funds under the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), the NJDOE was required to establish and implement a statewide policy requiring that students attending persistently dangerous schools or who become victims of violent criminal offenses while in or on the school grounds that they attend be allowed to transfer to a safe public school within the local educational agency. The NJDOE’s policy was adopted by resolution by the State Board of Education in June 2003. All local educational agencies receiving NCLB funds must comply with the provisions of the policy, as appropriate.

4. Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying

To assist school districts in developing the required harassment, intimidation and bullying policies (N.J.S.A. 18A:37-13 et seq.), the legislation required the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) to develop and issue a model policy applicable to grades kindergarten through twelve. The NJDOE’s policy was developed and disseminated in December 2002 and can be found at the following Web site: http://www.state.nj.us/njded/parents/bully.htm.

5. Violence Awareness Week

The NJDOE has provided guidelines and information to local boards of education for use in planning the activities that are required (N.J.S.A. 18:36-5.1) in observance of the week for each year the requirement has been in effect.

6. Public Hearings on Violence and Vandalism

For each year the requirement has been in effect (N.J.S.A. 18A:17-46), the NJDOE has provided guidelines and information to local boards of education for complying with the statute and submitting the required documentation to the NJDOE.

7. Alternative Education

Regulations for alternative education programs were newly adopted by the State Board of Education in May 2001 as a subchapter (N.J.A.C. 6A:16-8) in the chapter of administrative code titled Programs to Support Student Development (N.J.A.C. 6A:16). The provisions of the new subchapter regulate the application process and approval criteria for the operation of alternative education programs. The department developed and disseminated guidance documents titled A Guide and Application for the Operation and Approval of Middle School Alternative Education Programs and A Guide and Application for the Operation and Approval of High School Alternative Education Programs.

B. Prevention and Intervention Programs

1. Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act Program (Title IV-A of the No Child Left Behind Act)

The capacity for local school response to behavioral, social-emotional and health problems is supplemented by federal funding provided specifically for school violence and substance abuse prevention activities. Under the federal Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act (SDFSCA) program, $8.2 million dollars was provided through the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) to local districts for this purpose in 2003-2004.

Data on programs reported to the NJDOE by districts indicate that educators have matched the types of violence with appropriately designed plans and programs. They have put in place emergency and crisis management plans and have purchased security devices to provide a surveillance capacity to protect against intruders. They also have put in place specific programs to enhance their ability to intervene early when students are disruptive. For example, in the 2001-2002 school year, 353 school districts reported implementing conflict resolution programs and 266 districts reported delivering violence prevention instruction using SDFSCA funds. Additional violence-related activity funded under SDFSCA included the purchase of security equipment (27 districts), the use of security personnel (18 districts) and illegal gang prevention activities (35 districts).

2. Core Curriculum Content Standards

New regulations (N.J.A.C. 6A:8) for Core Curriculum Content Standards in Comprehensive Health and Physical Education were adopted by the State Board of Education on April 7, 2004. The Core Curriculum Content Standards in Comprehensive Health and Physical Education contain specific indicators under Standards 2.1 (Wellness - health promotion concepts and skills), 2.2 (Integrated Skills - health enhancing personal, interpersonal and life skills) and 2.4 ( Human Relationships and Sexuality – physical, emotional and social aspects of human relationships and sexuality) that require public schools to teach violence prevention skills, including media resistance, peer pressure resistance, peer leadership, problem-solving, conflict resolution and stress management. Additionally, Standard 9.2: Consumer, Family, and Life Skills, addresses significant related areas, such as critical thinking, self-management, interpersonal communication, character development, ethics and safety.  Each of these strands focuses on conflict management, problem-solving, personal responsibility and cooperation.

The standards provide a strong focus on bullying and violence prevention strategies, with a clear emphasis on character education.  Topical strands infused in each of the Core Curriculum Content Standards in Comprehensive Health and Physical Education help teachers locate specific content and skills related to violence prevention skills.  The standards are further defined by progress indicators at grades two, four, six, eight and twelve.

The Curriculum Framework for Health and Physical Education (1999), which can be found at http://www.state.nj.us/njded/frameworks/chpe/index.html, includes 140 suggested sample lessons for educators to use to address topics related to violence prevention and positive social and emotional development.  The New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards in Comprehensive Health and Physical Education provide an age-appropriate and culturally sensitive focus that helps students develop the knowledge and skills that lead to healthy, active lifestyles.

3. Intervention and Referral Services

The Intervention and Referral Services (I&RS) Initiative supports implementation of the I&RS regulations (N.J.A.C. 6A:16-7) by providing technical assistance to districts for the establishment of building-based (grades K-12) multidisciplinary problem-solving teams that are designed to assist students who are experiencing learning, behavior or health difficulties and to assist staff who have difficulties in addressing students’ learning, behavior or health needs. The technical assistance provided by NJDOE includes a four-part videotape series and accompanying companion guide and flyer; a comprehensive Resource Manual for Intervention and Referral Services; and the provision of training to prepare building administrators and building-based teams to implement the I&RS regulations. The videotapes were disseminated to all school districts in June 1999 and the original Resource Manual, which was distributed to districts in February 2000, was updated to reflect the provisions of the new regulations and was forwarded to schools in January 2003. Approximately 360 building-based teams have been trained since April 2000. In addition to providing annual team training, 160 school staff who were added to their school’s I&RS teams were provided training in the 2003-2004 school year. Plans are under way to develop supplemental training programs specifically designed to address the ongoing professional development needs of I&RS teams, in accordance with the provisions of N.J.A.C. 6A:16-7.2(a)4 and 6A:16-7.2(a)5.

4. Positive Student Discipline Reform Demonstration Project

The New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) has entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Violence Institute of New Jersey (VINJ) at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) to assist the NJDOE in administering, implementing and evaluating a research-based approach to school safety, including student discipline and positive student development, in three New Jersey school districts. The goal of the three-year project is to create safety and order in participating schools without unnecessarily excluding students. The project involves the implementation of comprehensive and science-based safety and discipline policies and practices that include prevention, intervention, referral and continuity of care programs, services and activities that maximize supportive school responses to student concerns and minimize the use of student exclusion from school as a disciplinary tool.

5. Character Education Initiative

New Jersey was the first state in the nation to provide state aid funding to implement character education programs and services through the New Jersey Character Education Partnership (NJCEP) initiative. For the third year (2002-03) of the initiative, the Governor’s FY2003 budget provided $4.75 million for school district character education program implementation and expansion. The purpose of NJCEP is to help public school educators to adopt validated character education programs that will meet the developmental needs of students throughout New Jersey by promoting pro-social student behaviors and creating a caring, disciplined school climate conducive to learning. While no government funding for this purpose could be directed to nonpublic schools, nonpublic school educators have been able to share in the professional development and networking activities and other educational resources provided by the NJCEP. During the 2002-2003 school year, 98% of the public school districts participated in the character education initiative. Those public school districts that participated during the 2001-2002 submitted data along with a narrative on program outcomes. The Report on Year Two Outcomes is available at http://www.nj.gov/njded/chared/outcomes.

In February 27, 2002, Governor James E. McGreevey established the New Jersey Character Education Commission by Executive Order #9. The Governor charged the Commission with addressing the state of New Jersey’s compelling interest in helping schools teach students the importance of good character traits such as integrity, fairness, respect and citizenship; creating classroom environments that encourage students to respect one another while promoting effective learning; and teaching students how to resolve conflicts without resorting to intimidation or violence. The commission conducted public meetings in May and June of 2002 to gather current information on character education activities in New Jersey and to hear directly from New Jersey citizens regarding their views on the state’s role in promoting character education. In September 2002, the commission submitted a report with recommendations and findings to the Governor.

In 2003, the Character Education Partnership (CEP) recognized eight New Jersey schools for their outstanding character education programs. This national recognition demonstrates the effectiveness of the sustained emphasis New Jersey has brought to character education over the past eight years. Additionally, CEP presented one of New Jersey’s schools with the National School of Character award for demonstrating outstanding character education initiatives that yield positive results in student behavior, school climate, and academic performance.

In March 2004, the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE), Office of Program Support Services (OPSS), hosted Tsunenobu Ban, a visiting professor from Japan, his wife, Kyoka Ban, lecturer of education, and professor Ban’s graduate student, Hiroko Tanaka. During the visit, they observed character education programs operating within a school setting at several school districts, including Westwood, Highland Park, Plainfield, Hamilton, and Lawrence High Schools. Additionally, Professor Ban presented some of his research findings on moral education to the New Jersey Character Education Advisory Board.

In May 2004, three regional character education conferences for public and nonpublic schools were offered, emphasizing school reform, curriculum infusion using the NJ Core Curriculum Content Standards, and programs based on scientific research. The conferences were sponsored by the New Jersey Center for Character Education (NJCCE), in collaboration with the Passaic County Superintendent of Schools Office, the Somerset County Superintendents Office and the Educational Information and Resource Center (ERIC).

6. New Jersey Center for Character Education

New Jersey is one of only five states to receive a federal grant award under the Partnerships in Character Education grant program (Title V, Part D of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001). Under this grant, New Jersey has created the New Jersey Center for Character Education (NJCCE) at the Center for Applied Psychology in the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology, Rutgers University. The NJCCE was established to offer in-depth technical assistance and support, evaluation of character education programs and opportunities for professional development and skill enhancement to public and nonpublic schools throughout the state.

Under the grant, the NJDOE identified ten collaborating partner LEAs as best practice demonstration sites to participate in intensive program development, program evaluation, professional development and dissemination activities. The demonstration sites represent the diversity of New Jersey’s schools and their experiences with school reform efforts. Two of the participating LEAs are the state operated districts; Jersey City and Paterson. The remaining eight LEAs (Woodbridge Township, Westwood Regional, Cape May County Special Services, Hunterdon Central Regional, Cherry Hill, Monroe Township, Highland Park and Plainfield) were selected as a result of a competitive application process. Additionally, the NJDOE has convened an expert panel to assist in the planning and development of a four-year evaluation plan for the program. The expert panel will also provide recommendations to the collaborating LEAs regarding the most effective strategies for conducting research and implementing scientifically based program strategies.

Through these efforts the New Jersey Center for Character Education (NJCCE) continues to assist the NJDOE, along with the public and nonpublic schools throughout the state to accomplish the following objective in Governor James E. McGreeveys 21-point education reform plan for New Jersey: To develop new initiatives to improve character education in our schools to help our children become productive, informed, and actively involved citizens.

7. Youth Gang Prevention and Intervention Project (Phase I)

Under a memorandum of understanding between the NJDOE and the Juvenile Justice Commission (JJC), the following gang-related programs and services were provided in 2002: gang prevention and education to youth who have been committed to JJC and are at high risk for involvement in gang activity; information about gang activities to community members and organizations statewide; and professional development programs on gang issues.

8. Children We Share: Partners in Student Discipline and Development (Phase I)

Under this project, assistance was provided to schools through a collaborative effort among NJDOE and The College of New Jersey with support provided by the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association to effectively engage parents and families in promoting positive youth development with particular attention given to discipline issues. The project included the development of a guidebook, a videotape program, and a program in CD-ROM format to provide relevant research, strategies and materials to use with parents in promoting positive youth development. It also provided a principals’ institute supporting use of the materials developed under the project.

9. Student Support Services Planning and Development Project

Under this project, supportive services were provided to 10 school districts interested in refining or reforming their student services programs. A contract was awarded to MGT of America, Inc. to provide technical support services to participating districts to assist them in evaluating existing student support services, assessing the support needs of students, and designing and implementing the optimum configuration and systems for delivering and sustaining student support services for their school populations. The foundation of the project is the self-study undertaken by each district, which encompasses the identification of existing programs, the analysis of student services in relation to identified student needs, the assessment of effectiveness and efficiency of existing programs and recommendations for reforming or refining these programs.

The two-year effort, which began July 1, 2002, offers each participating district an incentive grant of approximately $5,000 per year to help support district participation; provide substantial technical assistance from a consultant contractor; and implement a collegial process for evaluation, review and revision of how student services are organized, staffed and delivered. The districts were selected based on an articulation agreement with the NJDOE’s Office of School to Career and College Initiatives, which initiated a complementary project with pilot sites, under the New Jersey School Counseling Initiative. Exemplary work resulting from the initiative and best practices in student support services were showcased at a statewide conference in May 2004.

10. Alternative Education

Alternative education programs offer a viable and suitable educational option for students who have not experienced success in educational programs because they are disruptive, disaffected or at-risk for academic failure. Regulations for alternative education programs have been adopted by the State Board of Education as a subchapter of the administrative code (N.J.A.C. 6A:16-8), Programs to Support Student Development (N.J.A.C. 6A:16). The provisions of the subchapter regulate the application process and approval criteria for the operation of alternative education programs. The NJDOE will disseminate to all school districts an updated guidance document titled "A Guide and Application for the Operation and Approval of Middle and High School Alternative Education Programs" by June 7, 2004. In addition, the NJDOE has developed a survey for dissemination to all school districts by June 2004 that will provide information on alternative education programs in the state.

11. Peer Transitions Project

This project was designed to reduce factors that place students at risk for substance abuse and other negative behaviors as they transition from middle school to high school. Under an interagency agreement, NJDOE provided a fourth year of funding to the Division of Addiction Services (DAS) to expand the Peer-to-Peer Transitions Project. The project utilizes the existing network of peer leadership programs in New Jersey that has been established under the New Jersey Middle School Peer-to-Peer Program, a collaborative effort among NJDOE, DAS, the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse and the Department of Law and Public Safety.

12. Community Services for Suspended and Expelled Youth

Under a grant from the United States Department of Education, the NJDOE provided a statewide conference in April 2004 addressing the use of community services for students suspended or expelled from school and providing participants with supportive resource materials. Additional materials and direct services will be provided in the 2004-2005 school year to help schools coordinate and implement programs under which students suspended, expelled or otherwise removed from school perform community service. The goal of the overall program is to provide suspended and expelled students with meaningful activities to occupy their time during their absences from school; to help them avoid negative behaviors; and to teach them the value of service to others and their communities.

13. Drug Abuse Education Fund Project

Per the provisions of N.J.S.A. C.2C:43-3.5 and N.J.S.A. C.54A:9-25.12 et seq. a Drug Abuse Education Fund (DAEF) was established from portions of taxpayer-designated refunds and penalties assessed against individuals adjudicated or convicted of certain crimes. The resources accumulated in the fund are appropriated annually to NJDOE for distribution to non governmental entities for the use of law enforcement personnel in providing drug abuse education to students in grades K-12 on a statewide basis. Under the appropriation for these statutory provisions, the NJDOE issued a contract to D.A.R.E. New Jersey, Inc. for the second year of services for the 2003-2004 school year and plans to issue a third contract for the 2004-2005 school year.

14. Disaffected Youth Grant Program

The goal of this program is to help school-age children and adolescents in the Asbury Park, Camden City and Elizabeth school districts who are at risk for involvement in the juvenile justice system to remain in school or return to school and achieve the Core Curriculum Content Standards. The program is designed to address the identified academic and nonacademic needs of participating at-risk youth and their families by providing districtwide programs that include individual and group counseling, academic instruction, parent and family participation and outreach, and alcohol, tobacco and other drug prevention and intervention programs and services.

C. Professional Development and Technical Support

1. School Emergencies and Crises

The NJDOE co sponsored the conference titled a "Public Health and Mental Health: Coming Together During Emergencies" in collaboration with the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey’s School of Public Health, University Behavioral Health Care and Center for Bio Defense, the New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of Mental Health Services and the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services. The conference, held in May 2004, provided an update for invited leaders in New Jersey’s schools and communities in critical coordination for proactive planning for all-hazards emergencies.

2. Safe, Disciplined and Drug-Free Schools Exemplary Programs Showcase

One of the responsibilities of administering the federal Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act (SDFSCA) funds is to support the requirement for school districts to adopt programs that have a scientific research base, as a way of implementing the Principles of Effectiveness that schools are required to use as the basis for planning and selecting programs funded under SDFSCA. In May 2003, the NJDOE held a statewide conference for developers of programs designated as exemplary by the United States Department of Education to showcase their programs to New Jersey educators. The presentations and conference proceedings were videotaped and copies were disseminated to all New Jersey school districts in the fall of 2003.

3. Student Support Services Planning and Development Conference

A culminating activity of the Student Support Planning and Development Project was a conference held in May 2004 to showcase findings from schools in the project and provide information on best practices for the assessment, configuration and delivery of student support services.

4. Community Services for Suspended and Expelled Youth Conference

Under a grant from the United States Department of Education, the NJDOE provided a statewide conference in April 2004 addressing the use of community services for students suspended or expelled from school and providing participants with supportive resource materials. Workshops featured a range of options, including community service, character education, and mentoring to help at-risk students feel more connected, empowered and engaged in learning.

5. Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying

The NJDOE co sponsored the "Stop the Pain: New Jersey Cares about Bullying Conference" with the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety’s Office of Bias Crimes and Community Relations in March 2003. Trainings were also provided at the following events in the 2003-2004 school year to help school staff fulfill the requirements (N.J.S.A. 18A:37-13 et seq.) for addressing harassment, intimidation and bullying: Principals’ Training sponsored by the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association; Thirty-third Annual School Law Forum sponsored by the New Jersey School Boards Association; Bullying Conference sponsored by the New Jersey Law Center; and No Child Left Behind Regional Information sessions sponsored by the New Jersey Department of Education.

6. Electronic Violence and Vandalism Reporting System (EVVRS)

Five regional trainings were provided to school staff in the 2003-2004 school year to assist districts in fulfilling their requirement (N.J.S.A. 18A:17-46) to report acts of violence. Specifically, training was provided in the federal and state requirements related to the EVVRS, the accurate reporting of offenses consistent with the published definition of the offenses, and the use of the electronic reporting system.

7. Intervention and Referral Services

Staff from approximately 360 schools have been trained in the establishment of building-based teams of intervention and referral services (N.J.A.C. 6A:16-7) since April 2000 with 60 of the schools receiving training in the 2003-2004 school year. In addition to providing annual team training, 160 school staff who were added to their school’s I&RS teams were trained in 2003-2004. Orientations to the I&RS regulations and best practices for I&RS implementation were provided in the 2003-2004 school year at events sponsored by the Special Education Advisory Council, the New Jersey Association of Pupil Personnel Services Administrators, the New Jersey Association of Federal Program Administrators, the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association, the Southern Regional Office of the New Jersey Department of Education and the Student Support Services Conference of the New Jersey Department of Education.

8. Unsafe School Choice Option Policy

Training was provided at events sponsored by the following organizations in the 2003-2004 school year to help school staff fulfill the requirements of the Unsafe School Choice Option Policy: Principals’ Training, sponsored by the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association; Thirty-third Annual School Law Forum, sponsored by the New Jersey School Boards Association; and No Child Left Behind Regional Information sessions, sponsored by the New Jersey Department of Education.

9. Technical Assistance

The NJDOE continues to provide technical support programs and services for the implementation of the regulations addressing school safety, violence, substance abuse and health services found in N.J.A.C. 6A:16, Programs to Support Student Development and related statutes, as well as provide assistance to schools in the effective implementation of the Principles of Effectiveness required under the federal Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act.

D. Publications and Materials

1. Resource Manual for Intervention and Referral Services

In support of the Intervention and Referral Services regulations (N.J.A.C. 6A:16-7), the Resource Manual was reprinted and made available to districts in January 2004. The manual is posted on the web: http://www.state.nj.us/njded/students/irs/.

2. A Guide for the Development of a Districtwide School Safety Plan

In November 2001 the NJDOE, in support of the "Strategic Plan for Systemic Improvement of Education in New Jersey" established by the State Board of Education, developed and disseminated A Guide for the Development of a Districtwide School Safety Plan. The purpose of the guide is to provide New Jersey schools with background information for addressing school safety in a comprehensive manner.

The guide provides school staff with a general framework for planning and an inventory of supportive resources for the development of comprehensive school safety plans and programs designed to effect positive behavior in schools in order to ensure safe school climates. It describes a continuum of strategies and activities that are vital to the establishment of safe and secure educational environments, including the physical makeup of school buildings, prevention and intervention programs and services, community involvement, and responding in the aftermath of a crisis. The publication was distributed to all county superintendents and is also posted at the following Web site: http://www.state.nj.us/njded/educators/school_safety_man. The department plans to issue a more comprehensive school safety manual for use in the 2004-2005 school year.

3. Safe, Disciplined and Drug-Free Schools Exemplary Programs Showcase

As a result of this conference, which featured developers of programs throughout the country that were designated as exemplary by the United States Department of Education, the presentations and conference proceedings were videotaped and copies were disseminated to all New Jersey school districts in the fall of 2003.

4. Model Policy Prohibiting Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying

To assist school districts in developing and adopting harassment, intimidation and bullying policies, as required under N.J.S.A. 18A:37-13 et seq., the NJDOE was required to develop and issue a model policy applicable to grades kindergarten through twelve. The model policy can be found at the following Web site: http://www.state.nj.us/njded/parents/bully.

5. Memorandum of Agreement between Education and Law Enforcement Officials

The Attorney General and the Commissioner of Education in 1999 issued a revised Uniform State Memorandum of Agreement between Education and Law Enforcement Officials. Sections on weapons offenses, bias crimes and sexual harassment have been included in the revised memorandum. Requirements for the memorandum are set forth in the new subchapter of administrative code, Law Enforcement Operations for Substances, Weapons and Safety (N.J.A.C. 6A:16-6). The memorandum, which is reviewed and signed annually by local education and law enforcement officials, forms the basis for sharing information between education and law enforcement representatives and sets parameters for law enforcement investigations. The Attorney General’s Education and Law Enforcement Working Group intends to revise the memorandum to make it consistent with new statutes and regulations and to clarify and update issues and procedures, as appropriate.

E. Planning, Collaboration and Coordination

1. Attorney General’s Domestic Security Preparedness Task Force Infrastructure Advisory Committee-School Sector

In response to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Governor McGreevey created the Domestic Security Preparedness Task Force, which is chaired by the Attorney General’s office and includes representatives from all state agencies. As a result of task force planning, a committee has been formed to specifically address the unique needs of schools for responding to potential attacks and threats. The school committee will make recommendations to be considered for implementation in the 2004-2005 school year, including the development of a publication to be titled School Safety Manual: Best Practices Guidelines.

2. Truancy Working Group

A working group composed of representatives from the Legislature, the NJDOE, the Administrative Office of the Courts and the Department of Human Services has been formed to make recommendations regarding practices for addressing truancy issues on the part of schools, courts and human service agencies. A truancy survey was administered to a sample of school districts in the spring of 2003 to collect information on existing practices in responding to student truancy. Recommendations regarding survey findings will be considered by the working group and its constituent agencies for action in the 2004-2005 school year, including school reporting and regulations on truancy.

3. Collaboration with Mental Health Agencies and Student Support Personnel

One of the conclusions to be drawn from the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 and national school tragedies, such as the Littleton, Colorado incident, is that schools should examine how they collaborate with local mental health agencies. The effective use of student support services staff and the development of relationships between them and mental health providers are important components of schools' responses to violence. Therefore, the NJDOE continues to forge links between New Jersey schools and mental health providers to establish effective working relationships, identify areas of concern and consider strategies for improving the delivery of student support services.

Specifically, NJDOE staff continues to serve on the New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of Mental Health Services’ statewide infrastructure advisory group on mental health services. They also collaborate with the leadership of the Association of Student Assistance Professionals of New Jersey (ASAPNJ) and the New Jersey Association of School Psychologists (NJASP). In addition, ASAPNJ, NJASP and the New Jersey Association of Mental Health Agencies (NJAMHA) have all assigned representatives to serve on an advisory board to help guide the Student Support Services Planning and Development Initiative (SSSPDI).

4. Other Collaborative Partnerships

The NJDOE aims to continue to collaborate with the following groups: New Jersey School Boards Association, New Jersey Association of School Administrators, New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association, New Jersey Education Association, New Jersey Pupil Services Administrators Association, New Jersey School Counselors Association, the Association of Student Assistance Professionals of New Jersey, the New Jersey Association of Mental Health Agencies, the New Jersey Association of School Psychologists, the Violence Institute of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, the Departments of State, Health and Senior Services, Human Services and Law and Public Safety, the Administrative Offices of the Court, the Attorney General’s Education and Law Enforcement Working Group, and other organizations, associations and agencies. The NJDOE intends to continue to support the various collaborative initiatives described above in the Programmatic Response section of this report.

The department continues to be represented on the following organizations and their subgroups: Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, New Jersey Council on Domestic Violence, New Jersey Sexual Violence Advisory Council, New Jersey Association of County Youth Services Coordinators, Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Committee and School-based Probation Committee.

F. Research, Evaluation and Data Collection

1. Evaluation/Data Collection Projects

The Office of Program Support Services within the NJDOE conducts evaluations of its major initiatives and grant programs. During the 2003-04 school year, the office conducted a Truancy Survey of a sample of districts and reported performance data on all recipients of funds from the Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities Act (Title IV-A of NCLB).

2. New Jersey Student Health Survey

The NJDOE partnered with the Department of Health and Senior Services and the Department of Law and Public Safety to develop and implement the New Jersey Student Health Survey (NJSHS). The survey consolidates the four existing statewide surveys (Youth Risk Behavior Survey, Drug and Alcohol Use Among New Jersey High School Students, Communities that Care Survey, Youth Tobacco Survey) that collect information on student health issues. The survey information is used to guide the development of statewide policies and programs and help state agencies fulfill reporting requirements. The high school NJSHS was administered in the spring of 2003. Planning is under way for the development and implementation of a middle grades survey.

G. Other

Licensing Examination for Educators

N.J.S.A. 18A:40A-4 sets forth that no "certificate to teach in the public schools shall be issued to any teaching staff member who has not passed a satisfactory examination in (1) physiology and hygiene; and (2) substance abuse issues…" The department’s Office of Licensure and Credentials, in cooperation with the Office of Program Support Services, the Office of Special Education and the Office of Standards and Professional Development, the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, the New Jersey State School Nurses Association, the Association of Student Assistance Professionals of New Jersey, the Medical Society of New Jersey and the Addictions Professional Certification Board of New Jersey, has initiated the review of the examination with the intent to update the test.


FUTURE DIRECTIONS

A. Technical Review of the Electronic Violence and Vandalism Reporting System

The aforementioned changes in the Public School Safety Law and the Unsafe School Choice Option requirement under NCLB make accurate reporting by districts all the more critical. In order to review completeness and consistency of district reporting, the NDJOE intends to have a technical review of the EVVRS, the results of which will produce recommendations for improvements in the system, training priorities and suggestions for future data analysis and reporting.

B. School Safety Manual: Best Practices Guidelines

In response to the Attorney General’s Domestic Security Preparedness Task Force Infrastructure Advisory Committee-School Sector, the NJDOE intends to develop and disseminate to all school districts a comprehensive manual designed to provide in-depth guidance for the establishment of plans, procedures and mechanisms for responding to emergencies and crises, in accordance with N.J.A.C. 6A:16-5.2. The manual will cover a broad range of information, including prevention and early intervention programs and strategies, community-wide planning and coordination, target hardening of school facilities and emergency and crisis response and recovery. Additionally, training will be offered to school staff in support of the manual.

C. School Emergencies and Crises Training

In the 2004-2005 school year, the NJDOE intends to co sponsor with the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey’s School of Public Health a follow- up to the conference titled "Public Health and Mental Health: Coming Together During Emergencies" provided in the 2003-2004 school year to provide important information for schools and communities in critical coordination activities for proactive planning for all-hazards emergencies.

D. Youth Gang Prevention and Intervention Project (Phase II)

The purpose of this planned collaborative initiative with the Juvenile Justice Commission (JJC) and the Department of Law and Public Safety, is to develop a comprehensive array of programs and services designed to assist local schools and community-based organizations to understand and positively address negative youth gang issues. The initiative will expand upon the curriculum materials and programs developed by JJC under a previous memorandum of agreement between JJC and the NJDOE.

E. Children We Share: Partners in Student Discipline and Development

The goal of this planned project is to expand upon the materials developed under Phase I of the program, which provide information for school administrators to effectively engage parents and families in promoting positive youth development with particular attention given to discipline issues. In Phase II, the NJDOE intends to develop and provide training materials and training programs for teams of school staff and parents that will facilitate the delivery of trainings on positive discipline and youth development in their schools and communities, using the materials developed in Phase I.

F. Student Conduct

The NJDOE plans to propose to the State Board of Education regulations on student conduct as a subchapter of the chapter of administrative code titled Programs to Support Student Development (N.J.A.C. 6A:16) and propose technical amendments to subchapters on school safety, law enforcement operations for substances, weapons and safety and intervention and referral services. The NJDOE is also considering the possibility of issuing planning grants or other technical assistance designed to help schools examine and modify their codes of student conduct consistent with the regulations adopted by the State Board of Education.

G. Intervention and Referral Services

The NJDOE plans to produce and disseminate new training videos in support of the Intervention and Referral Services regulations (N.J.A.C. 6A:16-7). NJDOE also intends to develop supplements to the NJDOE publication titled Resource Manual for Intervention and Referral Services.

H. Safe, Disciplined and Drug-Free Schools Promising Practices

In May 2003, the NJDOE held a statewide conference for developers of programs designated as exemplary by the United States Department of Education to showcase their programs to New Jersey educators. The NJDOE plans to sponsor a follow-up conference featuring developers of programs designated as promising by the United States Department of Education. As a part of the project, the presentations and conference proceedings will be videotaped and copies disseminated to all New Jersey school districts.

I. Social Norms Project

The New Jersey Higher Education Consortium has effectively implemented a research-based project designed to alter social norms and behavior regarding the use of harmful substances. The NJDOE is exploring applications of the social norms model to public schools, as well as applications of the model to issues other than substance abuse.

J. Social-Emotional Learning

Reports of the research literature make it clear that when social-emotional and academic learning both become part of schooling, students are more likely to remember or use what they are taught. Findings from the research literature indicate that schools can benefit from applying proven strategies for enhancing academic and social-emotional learning, which have been demonstrated to improve academic achievement, as well as reduce high-risk behavior. In response to these important findings, the NJDOE is planning to provide technical support to assist schools in examining their instructional practices, programs, curricula and policies and fully integrating social-emotional learning throughout the educational program.

K. Technical Assistance for SDFSCA and USCO

The NJDOE plans to issue a training and technical support contract to provide assistance and supportive resources to schools utilizing federal Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act funds and schools designated by the NJDOE as persistently dangerous under the Unsafe School Choice Option Policy.

L. School Safety and Crisis Prevention and Response Conferences

The NDOE plans to provide trainings, in collaboration with other organizations, designed to help schools prepare for emergencies and crises. Specific training will be provided in applications of the School Safety Manual: Best Practices Guidelines to be developed and disseminated by the NJDOE for use in the 2004-2005 school year.


Appendix A: Public School Safety Law*

AN ACT concerning violence in the public schools and amending P.L.1982, c.163.

C.18A:17-46 Reporting of act of violence by school employee; annual report; public hearing.

Any school employee observing or having direct knowledge from a participant or victim of an act of violence shall, in accordance with standards established by the commissioner, file a report describing the incident to the school principal in a manner prescribed by the commissioner, and copy of same shall be forwarded to the district superintendent.

The principal shall notify the district superintendent of schools of the action taken regarding the incident. Annually, at a public hearing in October, the superintendent of schools shall report to the board of education all acts of violence and vandalism which occurred during the previous school year. The proceedings of the public hearing shall be transcribed and kept on file by the board of education, which shall make the transcript available to the public. Verification of the annual report on violence and vandalism shall be part of the State's monitoring of the school district, and the State Board of Education shall adopt regulations that impose a penalty on a school employee who knowingly falsifies the report. A board of education shall provide ongoing staff training, in cooperation with the Department of Education, in fulfilling the reporting requirements pursuant to this section. The majority representative of the school employees shall have access monthly to the number and disposition of all reported acts of school violence and vandalism.

The board of education shall file the transcript of the public hearing with the Division of Student Services in the Department of Education by November 1. The division shall review the transcript to ensure compliance with this section of law. The costs of staff training and transcribing the public hearing and printing the transcript shall be paid by the Department of Education.

Approved January 2, 2002.

18A:17-47. Discharge of, or discrimination against, school employee who files report

It shall be unlawful for any board of education to discharge or in any manner discriminate against a school employee as to his employment because the employee had filed a report pursuant to section 1 of this act. Any employee discriminated against shall be restored to his employment and shall be compensated by the board of education for any loss of wages arising out of the discrimination; provided, however, if the employee shall cease to be qualified to perform the duties of his employment he shall not be entitled to restoration and compensation.

L.1982, c. 163, s. 2, eff. Oct. 28, 1982.

18A:17-48. Annual report to legislature

The Commissioner of Education shall each year submit a report to the Education Committees of the Senate and General Assembly detailing the extent of violence and vandalism in the public schools and making recommendations to alleviate the problem.

L.1982, c. 163, s. 3, eff. Oct. 28, 1982.

* Pertinent Sections


Appendix B: Data Forms


Appendix C: Weapons and Substance Detail

2001-2002

2002-2003

Weapons
Handgun

11

0.8%

9

0.6%

Rifle

1

0.1%

0

0.0%

Air Gun

31

2.2%

72

4.6%

Imitation Gun

70

4.9%

91

5.9%

Bomb - Exploded

1

0.1%

0

0.0%

Bomb - Unexploded

1

0.1%

1

0.1%

Knife

924

64.1%

1,049

67.6%

Pin

15

1.0%

8

0.5%

Chain

10

0.7%

5

0.3%

Mace

23

1.6%

12

0.8%

Other

354

24.6%

304

19.6%

Total Weapons (duplicated*)

1,441

100.0%

1,551

100.0%

Substances
Alcohol

462

15.5%

540

18.7%

Marijuana

2,018

67.5%

1883

65.3%

Amphetamines

55

1.8%

39

1.4%

Crack

3

0.1%

4

0.1%

Cocaine

62

2.1%

66

2.3%

Hallucinogens

24

0.8%

24

0.8%

Narcotics

77

2.6%

44

1.5%

Depressants

44

1.5%

31

1.1%

Steroids

3

0.1%

4

0.1%

Prescription Drugs

111

3.7%

131

4.5%

Inhalants

18

0.6%

5

0.2%

Drug Paraphernalia

113

3.8%

112

3.9%

Total Substances (duplicated*)

2,990

100.0%

2883

100.0%

* More than one type of weapon or substance may be associated with an incident.

Appendix D: District Totals, by County