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Commissioner’s Annual Report to the Education
Committees of the Senate and General Assembly
On Violence, Vandalism and Substance Abuse

In New Jersey Public Schools

July 1, 2006 to June 30, 2007

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

Lucille E. Davy
Commissioner

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

September 2008

Prepared by Staff of the
Division of Student Services

Barbara Gantwerk
Assistant Commissioner

Susan B. Martz, Director
Office of Educational Support Services

PTM 1506.69


STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION


Table of Contents

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

INTRODUCTION

A. Legislative Charge
B. Purpose of the Report

Findings

A. Incident Frequency by Major Category
B. Incident Frequency by Type within Major Category
C. Incident Location, Police Notification and Bias
D. Results by Range of Incidents and School Type
E. Cost of Vandalism
F. Disciplinary Actions Taken
G. Offenders and Victims
H. Analysis of Data on Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying
I. Data Summary
J. Departmental Review of District Records

PROGAMMATIC RESPONSE

A. Comprehensive Approach to Prevention
B. Overview of Major Initiatives:

Appendix A: Public School Safety Law

Appendix B: Data Collection Form

Appendix C: Department Initiatives

A. Policy, Data Collection and Publications

Policy

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

Data Collection

1. Prevention Data Grant
2. New Jersey Student Health Survey
3. School Safety and Security Checklist Audits

Publications and Materials

1. Resource Manual for Intervention and Referral Services
2. School Safety and Security Manual: Best Practices Guidelines
3. Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying
4. Memorandum of Agreement
5. Public Access to EVVRS Data

B. Prevention and Intervention Programs

1. Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act Program
2. Homeland Security Grant
3. Core Curriculum Content Standards
4. Intervention and Referral Services
5. Positive Student Discipline Reform Demonstration Project
6. Social Norms Project
7. Developing Safe and Civil Schools: A Collaborative Approach
8. 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program
9. Character Education
10. Peer Transitions Project
11. Drug Abuse Education Fund Project

C. Collaboration, Professional Development and Technical Support

Collaboration *

1. Domestic Security Preparedness Task Force
2. Governor’s School Security Task Force
3. Governor’s Safe Streets and Neighborhoods Plan
4. Collaboration with Mental Health Agencies and Student Support Staff
5. Collaboration with Child Welfare Agencies
6. Other Collaborative Partnerships

Professional Development and Technical Assistance

1. Title IV-A and USCO Training and Technical Assistance Project
2. School Safety and Security
3. School Security Web site
4. Administrative Code
5. Student Conduct
6. Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying
7. Electronic Violence and Vandalism Reporting System (EVVRS)
8. Intervention and Referral Services
9. Unsafe School Choice Option Policy
10. Positive Student Discipline Reform Demonstration Project
11. Social Norms Project
12. Technical Assistance

Appendix D: Weapons and Substance Detail

Appendix E: District Totals by County

Appendix F: Statistical Methods and Analysis

List of Figures and Tables

Figure 1: Trends in Incidents by Major Category
Figure 2: Trends in Assaults and Fights
Figure 3: Trends in Threats and Harassment, Intimidation, Bullying
Figure 4: Trends in Threats Damage to Property and Theft
Figure 5: Trends in Bomb Threats, Fireworks, Burglary & Trespassing
Figure 6: Trends in Offenses involving Marijuana, Alcohol and Other Substances
Figure 7: Trends in Offenses Involving Cocaine & Prescription Drugs
Figure 8: Trends in Offenses involving Other Types of Substances
Figure 9: Trends in Substance Offense Type
Figure 10: Types of Incidents Occurring in the Classroom, 2006-07
Figure 11: Types of Incidents of Violence Occurring in the Classroom, 2006-07
Figure 12: Location of Weapons Offenses, 2006-07
Figure 13: Number of Schools by Range of Incidents
Figure 14: Incidents by School Type
Figure 15: Reason for Long-Term Suspension
Figure 16: Number of Suspensions by Duration
Figure 17: Types of Incidents Where Staff Was Victim

Table 1: Total Incidents for Major Reporting Categories
Table 2: Incidents by Type
Table 3: Location of Incidents
Table 4: Police Notification
Table 5: Disciplinary Action Taken, 2006-07
Table 6: Program Provided as Part of Disciplinary Action Taken, 2006-07
Table 7: Offender Type
Table 8: Victim Type


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The Commissioner of Education’s Report on Violence, Vandalism and Substance Abuse in New Jersey Public Schools, submitted annually to the education committees of the Senate and Assembly, provides the Legislature with data in four broad incident categories: violence, vandalism, weapons, and substance abuse. This year’s report highlights thee-year changes (2004-05 to 2006-07) and graphs seven-year trends1 for frequently reported types of incidents. The report also summarizes initiatives implemented by the New Jersey Department of Education to assist schools in addressing problems of school violence, safety and climate, student conduct, and the use of substances.

New Jersey’s schools continue to be fundamentally safe places, despite concerns raised by isolated incidents of extreme school violence that have occurred in our nation’s schools, including Littleton, Colorado in 1999 and Virginia Tech University in 2007.

School districts and charter schools report incidents of violence, vandalism and substance abuse to the department over the Internet using the Electronic Violence and Vandalism Reporting System (EVVRS). Over the past two years, the total number of incidents reported statewide changed very little, decreasing by 158 incidents (18,796 incidents in 2005-06; 18,633 incidents in 2006-07). Incidents of vandalism and weapons accounted for this decrease (see Table 1 below).

Table 1: Total Incidents for Major Reporting Categories

 

2005-06

2006-07

Change

% Change

Violence

11,166

11,534

368

3%

Vandalism

3,809

3,350

-459

-14%

Weapons

1,430

1,355

-75

-5%

Substances

2,647

2,653

6

0%

Unduplicated Total

18,796

18,633

-158

-1%

Within the violence category, the most notable changes were an increase in the number of incidents of harassment/intimidation/bullying, threats and simple assaults, and a decline in the number of fights. Within vandalism, there were increases in theft and damage to property. While there was a small increase in firearms possession, incidents of other weapons possession declined, as did incidents related to the possession of substances (i.e., alcohol and other drugs including prescription drugs and drug paraphernalia ). See Table 2. A statistical analysis of the number of reported incidents in the four major categories by school type (elementary, middle, high and special services schools) revealed some statistically significant three-year trends (2004-2005 to 2006-2007) that will bear further monitoring by the department; however, no changes were of the magnitude to be judged of practical significance.

Consistent with previous years’ data, seven out of ten schools (70 percent) reported five or fewer total incidents in 2006-07, with 915 schools (37 percent) reporting no incidents at all. See Figure 13. The reported location of incidents was also consistent with data from prior years, with 30 percent of incidents taking place in classrooms, 19 percent in school corridors, and 19 percent in other locations inside the school. The police were notified in 40 percent of incidents reported, the same percentage that was reported in the 2005-06 school year. See Table 4.

General education students constituted 72 percent of offenders and students with disabilities totaled 28 percent, essentially the same percentages as in prior years. The number of victims reported and the percentages of victims who were classified as general education students (56 percent), students with disabilities (19 percent), and staff (24 percent) were all similar to data from 2005-06. See Tables 8 and 9.

To insure continued safety in New Jersey’s schools, the department has developed policies, designed programs, collected and analyzed data, disseminated publications and materials, provided professional development and technical support, and maintained state-level collaborations. These efforts are focused on protecting the health, safety and welfare of school populations; establishing school climates of civility; preventing and remediating at-risk student behaviors; providing support services for staff, students and their families; and preventing, intervening and recovering from crises situations. These efforts are discussed in the The EVVRS was deployed eight years ago, in March of 2000. 

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1 The Electronic Violence and Vandalism Reporting System (EVVRS) was deployed eight years ago, in March of 2000. The seven-year analysis in this report covers 2000-2001 through 2006-07; data from the 1999-2000 school year are not used in this analysis as districts were unfamiliar with the system and thus with standards for reporting.

INTRODUCTION

Legislative Charge

In 1982, N.J.S.A 18A:17-46 through 17-48 (see Appendix A) was signed into law. The "Public School Safety Law" was a response to the problem of violence and vandalism in the schools long recognized by the State Legislature. The law stipulates 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. 18A:17-48).

Purpose of the Report

The Commissioner’s report provides the Legislature with information concerning serious student misconduct grouped into the following four categories: violence, vandalism, weapons, and substance abuse. An analysis of trends yields indications of progress and of ongoing concern, and provides guidance to the department as it endeavors to focus its resources appropriately. In the Programmatic Response section and in Appendix C of 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 to address the problems evident in the data.

Districts have reported incidents online since the 1999-2000 school year. Districts use the Electronic Violence and Vandalism Reporting System (EVVRS), http://homeroom.state.nj.us, to report information electronically about individual incidents, including offender and victim information. The department analyzes the data collected over the EVVRS in this report to the State Legislature and in the reports to the federal education department on the Gun-Free Schools Act, Title IV-A (Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act) of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), and the Unsafe School Choice Option policy requirement. Districts can also use EVVRS reports to identify important trends in their incident data.

To assist school staff, the department, in conjunction with New Jersey Network (NJN), has developed an in-service training program on DVD that uses "live scenarios" to dramatize and clarify the more difficult-to-classify incidents. The department distributed the DVD to all school districts, public schools, charter schools and private schools for the disabled in November of 2007. When used to provide district or school in-service, the video program will increase school district staff’s awareness of their responsibilities to report serious student misconduct and assists them in deciding how to report such misconduct on the EVVRS.

The public may view district- and state-level trends, as well as summary information on the types of incidents reported for every district and school, beginning with the 2003-04 reporting year at http://www.state.nj.us/njded/schools/vandv/index.html.

Findings

A. Incident Frequency by Major Category

Figure 1 on page 6 displays the unduplicated count of incidents by each of the four major reporting categories over a seven-year period. Focusing on the most recent three years of data (see Table 2), the department carried out an analysis to determine if any of the changes year-to-year and over the three-year period were statistically significant. Techniques were employed to provide estimates of the likelihood of one or more incidents occurring within a category, reported in percentiles, and the expected (i.e., "most likely" or "average") number (measured as the rate2) of incidents, for those schools reporting an incident.

Previous reports to the legislature on violence and vandalism have noted that high schools typically report half of all incidents reported, middle schools, 35-40 percent and elementary schools 10-15 percent. Special schools (that is, schools of special services school districts and educational services commissions) typically account for two percent or less. For this reason, and due to its fit with the statistical techniques employed, differences in year-to-year totals and three-year changes for each of the four major categories were assessed by school type (elementary, middle, high, special).

A "statistically significant" result may be misleading. The reviewer must also consider the "practical significance" of the finding, (i.e., whether that finding, in and of itself, is of such importance as to require further action by the department.) When a difference is found to be statistically significant - for example, a decrease in weapons incidents in high schools – that does not necessarily mean that the difference is practically significant. Whether or not a difference found to be statistically significant is of practical importance is a matter of judgment and rests primarily on the magnitude of the difference (see Appendix F for a discussion of statistical vs. practical significance).

In order to compare results from one year to the next and detect trends over the three-year period of 2004-05 to 2006-07, the statistical analyses used measured changes in terms of rates per one thousand students. Elementary and middle schools in New Jersey, however, have approximately half that number of students on average. When the changes in this analysis of major reporting categories by school type are rescaled to the size of smaller schools, the results reflect fractional changes. For example, a statistically significant change of one incident per 1,000 students represents a magnitude of only one-half an incident per the average elementary or middle school. None of the three-year trends that were statistically significant exceeded this magnitude; however, these findings merit continued monitoring in future reports of violence and vandalism in New Jersey public schools.

The unduplicated total number of incidents reported in 2006-07 was 18,633, a decrease of one percent from the 18,796 total reported in 2005-06. When changes in the unduplicated count over the three-year period 2004-05 through 2006-07 were examined, a marginally significant decline in the likelihood (1.7 percentiles per thousand students) for one or more incidents occurring among high school students was detected as well as a decline of eight incidents per 10,000 students ; both changes are too small to be of practical significance.

Reported incidents show a drop in violence over the five-year period from 2000-01 to 2004-05, followed by a small increase over the past year two years. In the three-year statistical analysis, an upward trend in the likelihood of one or more acts of violence occurring was detected in elementary schools (rising three percentiles per thousand students per year) and middle schools (rising 1.8 percentiles per thousand students per year); however, neither of these findings is of the magnitude to be of practical significance. In those elementary schools reporting incidents, the increase of 1.03 incidents of violence per thousand students was statistically, but not practically, significant. There was a one-year decline (2004-05 to 2005-06) of eight percentiles per thousand students in the likelihood of one or more acts of violence occurring in special services schools; this decline was not accompanied by a decline in the number of incidents recorded by schools reporting any incidents.

Vandalism shows a moderate decline over the seven-year period. In the three-year statistical analysis, a downward trend in the likelihood of one or more acts of vandalism occurring was detected in elementary schools (falling 2.4 percentiles per thousand students per year) and an upward trend in middle schools (rising 2.4 percentiles per thousand students per year); neither magnitude is practically significant. For those high schools and special services schools reporting incidents of vandalism, there was a one-year downward trend (2005-06 to 2006-07) of six incidents per ten thousand students and nine incidents per thousand students, respectively.

There was little change in weapons and substance incidents over the seven-year period. The three-year statistical analysis revealed a downward three-year trend in the weapons rate among high schools reporting any weapons incidents of one incident per ten thousand students. There were no significant year-to-year or three-year trends in the likelihood of one or more incidents occurring or in the number of incidents of substances (i.e., alcohol and other drugs including prescription drugs and drug paraphernalia) among any of the types of schools.

Figure 1: Trends in Incidents by Major Category

Table 2 reports the changes in the number of incidents within each of the reporting categories over the same three-year period, 2004-05 through 2006-07. Shifts within the categories are noted.

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2
Appendix F is a description of the statistical techniques employed, the rationale for their use, and the results of the analysis, with output tables.

Incident Frequency by Type within Major Category3

B. Table 2: Incidents by Type

2004-2005

2005-06

2006-07

Three-Year Change*

Incident Type

# of Incidents

# of Incidents

# of Incidents

# of Incidents

Violence

Simple Assault

3,219

3,390

3,401

182

Aggravated Assault

244

235

250

6

Fight

4,766

4,464

4,447

-319

Gang Fight

103

63

81

-22

Robbery/Extortion

42

63

70

28

Sex Offense

199

161

205

6

Threat

1,292

1,430

1,588

296

Terroristic Threat

179

195

314

135

Harassment/ Intimidation/Bullying

1,134

1,409

1,458

324

Vandalism

Arson

121

111

115

-6

Bomb Threat1

127

136

113

-14

Burglary

116

113

88

-28

Damage to Property

1,694

1,787

1,511

-183

Fireworks

73

90

59

-14

Theft

1,387

1,584

1,457

70

Trespassing

163

178

124

-39

Weapons

Firearm2

7

12

11

4

Other Weapon

1,434

1,317

1,269

-165

Bomb Offense3

7

1

7

0

Substances

Use

1,993

1,999

2,003

10

Possession

809

723

719

-90

Distribution

81

71

86

5

1. Includes two fake bombs in 2004-05, 2005-06 and one fake bomb in 2006-07.

2. Firearm incidents include handgun and rifle incidents only. Air guns and imitation   guns are classified as "Other Weapons."

3. Defined as any explosive device larger than a firecracker, exploded or unexploded.

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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. 

  • Violence:  There was little change in the number of fights and assaults, the two most frequent types of violence; however, incidents of threat (including terroristic threat) and incidents of harassment, intimidation, bullying each increased by 29 percent.

  • Vandalism:  Three-year changes are modest in all types of vandalism with damage to property declining 11 percent and theft increasing by five percent.

  • Weapons:  All 11 firearms incidents involved possession of a handgun.  The bomb offenses were for homemade (unexploded) explosive devices, e.g., a “Molotov cocktail”.  Other weapons offenses decreased by 12 percent over the three-year period.

  • Substances:  Use of substances did not change, while the number of incidents of substance possession decreased by 11 percent.  The number of substance incidents involving narcotics reached 74, a two-year increase of 40 percent and the largest number reported since 2001-02 when 77 were reported.  The total of 149 incidents involving drug paraphernalia in 2006-07 represents a three-year increase of 19 percent. See Appendix D for details on the types of weapons and substances involved in reported incidents. 

The following figures examine trends of the principal types of offenses within each of the major categories:

Within the violence category, assaults (simple and aggravated) and fights (including gang fights) have leveled off after a period of decline (see Figure 2).

 

Figure 2: Trends in Assaults and Fights

The number of threats and incidents of harassment, intimidation, bullying first reported in 2003-04 have increased since 2004-05 (see Figure 3).

Figure 3: Trends in Threats and Harassment, Intimidation, Bullying

Under the category of vandalism, incidents of damage to property and theft have generally declined over the seven-year period (see Figure 4).

Figure 4: Trends in Damage to Property and Theft

Figure 4: Trends in Damage to Property and Theft

A pattern of decline is also evident for four other types of incidents reported under vandalism (see Figure 5).

* Note that the scale in Figure 5 is different from that in Figure 4 to illustrate the year-to-year variations in the number of incidents in Figure 5. The variation would be unnoticeable if the scale in Figure 4 was used.

Figure 5: Trends in Bomb Threats, Fireworks, Burglary & Trespassing

Under the weapons category, the number of incidents involving a knife or razor, scissors, box cutter or blade of any kind has declined over the past four years, but this remains the most frequent type of weapon reported. Incidents involving other types of weapons also declined.

Under the substances category, marijuana is the most frequently reported substance type; it has declined, while incidents involving alcohol and all other substances combined have remained virtually unchanged over the past seven years (see Figure 6).

* Note the difference in scales in Figures 6, 7 and 8

Figure 6: Trends in Offenses involving Marijuana, Alcohol and Other Substances (magnified in Figures 7 & 8)

Among other substances reported with some frequency, only narcotics (e.g., heroin) has shown an increase (see Figures 7 & 8).

* Note the difference in scales in Figures 6, 7 and 8

Figure 7: Trends in Offenses Involving Cocaine & Prescription Drugs

* Note the difference in scales in Figures 6, 7 and 8.

Figure 8: Trends in Offenses involving Other Types of Substances

The number of incidents of use or distribution of substances shows little measurable change over the seven-year period (see Figure 9). Incidents of possession have declined from a high of 873 in 2000-01 to a low of 719 in 2006-07 (18 percent).

Figure 9: Trends in Substance Offense Type

C. Incident Location, Police Notification and Bias

In 2006-07, as was the case in both 2004-05 and 2005-06, slightly more than three out of four incidents (76 percent) occurred inside the school building, and three incidents in ten occurred in the classroom. See Table 3.

Table 3: Location of Incidents  

 

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

Location

# of Incidents

% of Total

# of Incidents

% of Total

# of Incidents

% of Total

Cafeteria

1,467

9%

1,589

8%

1,554

8%

Classroom

4,869

29%

5,737

31%

5,515

30%

Corridor

3,480

21%

3,579

19%

3,528

19%

Other inside school

2,948

18%

3,368

18%

3,547

19%

School grounds

1,894

11%

2,097

11%

2,211

12%

Bus

655

4%

675

4%

634

3%

Building exterior

386

2%

466

2%

409

2%

Other outside

1,016

6%

1,285

7%

1,020

5%

Off-site Program*        

215

1%

Total

16,715

100%

18,796

100%

18,633

100%

* First reported in 2006-07    

Figure 10 shows the frequency of the types of incidents that occurred in the classroom in 2006-07. Incidents of violence occurred more frequently than the other three categories combined.

Figure 10: Types of Incidents Occurring in the Classroom, 2006-07

Figure 11 shows the distribution of the types of violence that occurred in the classroom. The sum of all types of violence in Figure 11 does not equal the total of 3,497 in Figure 12 as multiple types of violence may occur during one incident.

Figure 11: Types of Incidents of Violence Occurring in the Classroom, 2006-07

One-third (34 percent) of reported weapons offences occurred in the classroom.

Figure 12: Location of Weapons Offenses, 2006-07

Police were notified in two incidents out of five; in half of those cases, a complaint was filed.4

Table 4: Police Notification

 

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

 

# of Incidents

% of Total

# of Incidents

% of Total

# of Incidents

% of Total

None

11,079

60%

11,349

60%

11,264

60%

Notified, no complaint

3,647

20%

3,559

19%

3,760

20%

Notified, complaint filed

3,675

20%

3,888

21%

3,609

19%

Total*

18,401

100%

18,796

100%

18,633

100%

Missing

8

         

* Percentage total in 2006-07 due to rounding.

Districts reported 154 incidents of bias in the 2006-07 school year, a decrease of 18 percent from the 2005-06 total of 188 and a six percent, three-year decrease from 2004-05.

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4
The school district, the police or a parent may file a complaint.

D. Results by Range of Incidents and School Type

The data in 2006-07 on the range of incidents by school type did not change from 2005-06:

  • Three schools in eight (37 percent) reported no incidents in 2006-07;

  • When the group that reported no incidents is included in the statewide analysis, seven schools in ten (70 percent) reported five or fewer incidents; and

  • Only 230 schools (nine percent) reported 25 or more incidents, the exact same number of schools reporting incidents at this level in 2004-05.

Figure 13: Number of Schools by Range of Incidents

Figure 14 shows that more than half of all incidents reported in 2006-07 (56 percent) occurred in high schools, and nearly one-third (31 percent) occurred in middle schools. The distribution of incidents across types of schools is consistent with the data for 2005-06. “Other” school type includes Educational Services Commissions and Special Services School districts.

Figure 14: Incidents by School Type5

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5
An elementary school is defined here as any school that ends at grade 6 or below; a middle school is any school that terminates in the 7 through 9 grade range, and a high school is defined as any school that terminates at grade 10 or above.  Data from schools in special services school districts and adult evening high schools are included under “other” in Figure 16.

E. Cost of Vandalism

The total cost of vandalism to all districts was $498,029. This was a 28 percent decrease from the cost of vandalism in 2005-06 ($689,158) and a decrease of three percent from the 2004-05 amount of $513,061. Districts reported incurring costs from an unduplicated total count of 782 incidents of vandalism - a 24 percent decrease from the 1,028 incidents reported in 2005-06 and a 22 percent decline from the 2004-05 total of 1,003 incidents.

F. Disciplinary Actions Taken

For 2006-07, a number of changes were made to the page on the EVVRS where districts enter information about the incident offender. One key change concerned how districts report disciplinary action taken following the incident. In 2006, disciplinary actions were effectively redefined in New Jersey Administrative Code. The new code created two types of suspension, short-term (10 days or fewer) and long-term (more than ten days), and detention was added to the list of actions. Therefore, beginning in 2006-07, districts reported the number of short-term and long-term suspensions and not the number of out-of-school suspensions. In addition, the field that was previously displayed as Alternative Setting (used by districts to indicate the setting in which a student was placed after removal from the classroom setting, e.g., home instruction, in-district alternative program) was changed to Program Provided upon Disciplinary Action. In-school suspension was added to the existing list and county alternative education program was removed. Because of these changes, no year-to-year comparisons are presented in the tables or text of this report.

Table 5: Disciplinary Action Taken, 2006-07

 

# of Actions

% of Total

Expulsion

61

0%

Short-term Suspension

20,210

93%

Long-term Suspension

396

2%

Detention

204

1%

Other Discipline

812

4%

Total

21,683

100%

Sixty-three percent of long-term suspensions were due to incidents of violence (see Figure 15).

Figure 15: Reason for Long-Term Suspension

Slightly more than half of the suspensions (54 percent) were for less than five days, and 19 percent were for 10 days or more (see Figure 16). The most frequently issued period of suspension, three days, was used in 4,237 suspensions or 21 percent of cases.

* Includes 396 actions of greater than 10 days duration

Figure 16: Number of Suspensions by Duration

Table 6 displays the types of programs provided by districts when students were suspended. Approximately one-third (35 percent) involved home instruction, an in-district program (32 percent), or in-school suspension (32 percent). Approximately one in ten was an out-of-district program.

Table 6: Program Provided as Part of Disciplinary Action Taken, 2006-07

Home Instruction

1,641

35%

In-District Alternative Program/School

483

10%

Other In-District Setting

577

12%

Out-of-District Alternative Education Program

192

4%

Other Out-of-District Setting

337

7%

In-School Suspension

1,530

32%

Total

4,760

100%

G. Offenders and Victims

The proportion of offenders who are general education students, special education students, and non-students has changed very little from year to year (See Table 8). In 2006-07, general education students constituted 72 percent of the offenders in cases where the offender was known.6 Students with disabilities, who represent 17 percent of the student population, constituted more than one quarter (28 percent) of reported offenders.

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6
In many cases of vandalism, particularly those of theft and damage to property, the offender is unknown to the district.  In 1,951 cases (9% of all offenders) in 2006-07, the offender was missing or reported as unknown.

Table 7: Offender Type

 

2004-2005

2005-06

2006-07

 

# of Offenders

% of Total

# of Offenders

% of Total

# of Offenders

% of Total

General Education Student

13,952

72%

13,825

71%

13,996

72%

Student with Disability

5,262

27%

5,488

28%

5,417

28%

Student from Other District, Non-Student

105

1%

95

0%

148

1%

Total

19,319

100%

19,408

100%

19,561

100%*

Note. Omits cases where offender is unknown or missing.    
* Total due to rounding.            

There has been very little change in the distribution of victims by category over the past three years. The number of school staff, including contracted staff, who were victims of an offense of any kind increased by 10 percent over the period; in the eight-year history of the EVVRS, the highest number of staff reported as victims (1,923) occurred in 2001-02 (not shown).

Table 8: Victim Type

 

2004-2005

2005-06

2006-07

 

# of Victims

% of Total

# of Victims

% of Total

# of Victims

% of Total

General Education Student

4,409

57%

4,782

59%

4,529

56%

Student with Disability

1,369

18%

1,471

18%

1,529

19%

Student from Other District, Non-Student

162

2%

32

0%

144

2%

School Staff

1,739

23%

1,752

22%

1,911

24%

Total

7,679

100%

8,037

100%

8,113

100%

Not all incidents in which staff were victims were assaults. Nearly half (47 percent) involved threats or harassment, intimidation and bullying, while 41 percent involved either assaults or fights. The total number of incidents included in Figure 17 exceeds the count of staff victims due to the occurrence of more than one type of offense, e.g., threat, assault, that may be recorded for any given incident.

Figure 17: Types of Incidents Where Staff Was Victim

* Includes incidents of robbery, extortion, sex offense, arson and fireworks, trespassing and bomb threat.

H. Analysis of Data on Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying

For the fourth consecutive year, in 2006-07 school districts were required to report incidents in the category of harassment, intimidation, and bullying. Based on the statutory definition, incidents in this category are reported if: 1) the victim possessed a distinguishing characteristic and 2) the incident caused harm (physical or psychological) or damage to the student’s property or caused substantial interference or disruption with the orderly operation of the school.

In 2006-07, 1,458 incidents of harassment, intimidation and bullying were reported, an increase of three percent from (49 incidents) the 1,409 reported in 2005-06. As was the case during the previous three years, some of these incidents occurred in conjunction with other types of incidents: assault (68), fight (29), threat (100), and sex offense (17). Of the 307 schools reporting an incident of harassment, intimidation and bullying, one-third (33 percent) reported one incident, 38 percent reported two to four incidents, 19 percent reported five to ten incidents and only one in ten schools (10 percent) reported more than 10 such incidents.

I. Data Summary

  • In 2006-07, the total number of incidents reported statewide was virtually unchanged from the previous year, decreasing by 158 incidents (from 18,796 in 2005-06 to 18,633 in 2006-07). Incidents of vandalism and weapons accounted for this decrease. An analysis of the number of reported incidents in the four major categories (violence, vandalism, weapons and substances) over the three-year period 2004-05 through 2006-07 indicated some statistically significant results. While none reached a magnitude to be of practical significance, these trends will be monitored by the department in future calculations.

    The statistically significant results included:
    • A downward three-year trend in the overall violence and vandalism rate in high schools from 2004-05 to 2006-07;
    • A decline in the vandalism rate in high schools and special services schools from 2005-06 to 2006-07;
    • A rise in the violence rate among elementary schools from 2005-06 to 2006-07; and
    • A decline in the weapons rate from 2004-05 to 2005-06 and a downward three-year trend from 2004-05 to 2006-07 among high schools.

This report also presents trends over the past seven years (i.e., since 2000-2001). Violence declined sharply over the first five years but has increased slightly in the past two years. Vandalism has declined steadily over the period, and there have been no observable changes statewide in the totals for the other two major reporting categories, weapons and substance abuse.

Over the past three years (2004-05 through 2006-07), certain changes merit attention:

  • Within the category of vandalism, there was an 11 percent decline in incidents of damage to property and a five percent increase in incidents of theft;

  • Within the violence category, the most notable changes were led by a 29 percent increase in the number of incidents of harassment, intimidation, and bullying and in the total number of threats reported;

  • While there was an increase of firearms possession (from 7 to 11 incidents) over the three-year period, incidents involving other weapons declined 12 percent; and

  • The possession of substances, (i.e., alcohol and other drugs) declined by 11 percent.

J. Departmental Review of District Records

In 2005-06, the department surveyed 19 school districts that either reported a decline of at least 100 incidents of violence over a three-year period (between 2002-03 and 2004-05) or reported at least 50 incidents of violence in 2002-03 and a decline of at least 50% over the same period. These districts were asked to confirm and verify figures submitted in 2004-05 and to explain the reasons for the decline.

All 19 school districts responded. The majority attributed the decline to a multiplicity of responses to the problem rather than one action or program. These responses included the alignment of local reporting standards with criteria in incident definitions; administrative actions both to reduce the level of violence in their schools and to ensure the accurate reporting of incidents; enhanced linkages and communication with the community; the implementation of new curricula, non-curricular programs and additional student support services; and changes in the student population.

As reported last year, the department developed a protocol to verify the local standards for reporting that entailed an on-site review of documents such as suspension forms used for recording incidents of misconduct for which a school imposed a consequence. During the 2006-07 school year the department continued to use this protocol, to conduct records reviews in eight schools in five of these 19 districts. The department sent a letter of findings to each of the five districts and continues to monitor the district’s reporting. Additionally, the New Jersey Quality Single Accountability System includes indicators regarding the reporting requirements.

PROGAMMATIC RESPONSE

A. Comprehensive Approach to Prevention

New Jersey’s schools continue to be fundamentally safe places, despite concerns raised by isolated incidents of extreme school violence that have occurred in our nation’s schools, including Littleton, Colorado in 1999 and Virginia Tech University in 2007. Although the data indicate that incidents of violence periodically occur in schools, they are infrequent.

In the interest of advancing the overarching goals of preventing, reducing and effectively managing incidences of violence, vandalism and substance abuse, the department supports a diverse array of initiatives designed to help schools achieve the following objectives:

  • To protect the health, safety, security and welfare of school populations;

  • To establish and maintain educational climates of civility;

  • To prevent at-risk student behaviors;

  • To intervene with and remediate at-risk student behaviors at all stages of identification;

  • To provide supportive services for staff, students and their families; and

  • To prevent, intervene in, respond to and recover from emergency and crisis situations.

Programs, services and activities designed to support these aims are at the heart of school safety. There have been dramatic gains in our knowledge from the research literature in the last two decades on the types of school-based strategies that have proven to be effective in creating safe, disciplined and drug-free schools.

At their core, all of the evidence-based school strategies for preventing problem student behaviors and fostering positive student development are designed to promote student engagement in learning, increase attachment to school and enhance social skills. These strategies have been reported in the research literature to result in measurable positive effects on academic performance, student retention and reductions in violence, substance abuse and related at-risk student behaviors.

Schools are most likely to prevent problem student behaviors and promote student well-being and success through comprehensive, coordinated and systematically planned programs, services and activities. These are designed to develop student’s abilities to identify and manage emotions, make healthy decisions, establish constructive relationships, develop caring and concern for others and effectively handle challenging situations. The department’s diverse initiatives are designed to help schools cultivate these strategies and achieve these purposes.

School districts, county agencies and State agencies continue to coordinate and collaborate on programmatic responses that foster school safety on many levels, ranging from prevention through crisis response and recovery. The department’s ongoing responses to at-risk student behaviors and unsafe school circumstances include support to local educational agencies for the following program strategies and goals:

  • Development and consistent application of clearly defined codes of student conduct;

  • Assessment of the immediate school surroundings, as well as the social and emotional learning climates of the school communities;

  • Development of comprehensive school safety and security plans that incorporate clearly defined procedures and mechanisms for responding to and recovering from emergencies and crises;

  • Implementation of evidence-based prevention and intervention programs; and

  • Development of plans for the effective use of available school and community resources.

In support of these program strategies and goals, the department has aggressively pursued a variety of policy and program initiatives to address the problem of disruption and violence since the beginning of the Safe Schools Initiative in 1994. Descriptions of these initiatives may be found in Appendix C.

  1. Policy, Data Collection and Publications
  • Policy: To ensure that school districts approach student conduct in a comprehensive manner, the State Board of Education has adopted regulations that specify the minimum standards for district boards of education in establishing local policies and procedures for operating programs to support the social, emotional and physical development of students. The New Jersey Administrative Code, Chapter 16, Programs to Support Student Development (http://www.state.nj.us/njded/code/current/title6a/chap16.pdf), includes rules on the following: the establishment of formal agreements between education and law enforcement officials; comprehensive substance abuse prevention and intervention programs and procedures; mandatory actions with regard to school safety and security (including incident reporting, harassment, intimidation and bullying, School Violence Awareness Week and public hearings on school violence and vandalism); parameters for codes of student conduct that support positive youth development and sanctions and due process of law for violations of the code; criteria for building-based systems of intervention and referral services; criteria for alternative education programs; and procedures for home or out-of-school instruction. Additionally, the department established the Unsafe School Choice Option policy in response to the No Child Left Behind Act.

  • Data Collection: The department collects data on student conduct and risk-taking behavior through the EVVRS, the School Report Card, and the New Jersey Student Health Survey. Additionally, the School Safety and Security Checklist Audits provide data on the security procedures, inspection protocols, information sharing and planning efforts. A federal prevention data grant has enabled the department to improve the utilization of data from the EVVRS by placing detailed system reports on the Web that districts can use to track and analyze their data and by making summary EVVRS reports available to the public on line.

  • Publications and Materials: The department produces resource materials that provide districts with guidance in creating safe and disciplined school environments, including the Resource Manual for Intervention and Referral Services; the School Safety and Security Manual: Best Practices Guidelines; the Model Policy Prohibiting Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying; and the Memorandum of Agreement between Education and Law Enforcement Officials.
  1. Prevention and Intervention Programs
  • The department assists districts by providing funds through the federal Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act (SDFSCA) program for the implementation of violence and substance abuse prevention and intervention programs. Using federal SDFSCA and Partnerships in Character Education funds, the department develops, implements, evaluates and disseminates findings from innovative programs designed to support safe, civil, disciplined and drug-free school environments. These projects include the Intervention and Referral Services Technical Assistance Project; the Social Norms Project; the Developing Safe and Civil Schools: A Coordinated Approach for Social-Emotional and Character Development Initiative; the Truancy Prevention and Intervention Initiative; and the Title IV-A and Unsafe School Choice Option Training and Technical Assistance Project.

  • The department’s Core Curriculum Content Standards include strands that focus on conflict management, problem solving, personal responsibility, cooperation and peer pressure resistance to prevent violent and other at-risk student behavior.

  • Through 21st Century Community Learning Centers grants, the department helps districts and agencies provide safe and productive activities for youth and positive youth development opportunities after school hours that will encourage positive social skills and behavior.
  1. Collaboration, Professional Development and Technical Support
  • Collaboration: In order to address violence-related problems and coordinate initiatives, the department collaborates with a diverse array of agencies and organizations. These include state agencies, such as the Domestic Security Preparedness Task Force, the Governor’s Safe Streets and Neighborhoods-Delinquency Prevention Subcommittee, the Governor’s School Security Task Force, the Attorney General’s Education-Law Enforcement Working Group, Juvenile Justice Commission, child welfare agencies, mental health agencies, education and other student support staff professional associations and institutions of higher education.

  • Professional Development and Technical Assistance: The department provides professional development and technical assistance to increase school safety and security, reduce harassment, intimidation and bullying and generally improve student conduct. The department also provides support specific to helping schools fulfill the provisions of the Programs to Support Student Development regulations (N.J.A.C. 6A:16). Programs specifically designed to provide training and technical assistance to school district staff in fulfilling these obligations include the EVVRS regional trainings, the Intervention and Referral Services Training Initiative, the Intervention and Referral Services Technical Assistance Project and the Title IV-A and Unsafe School Choice Option Training and Technical Assistance Project.

B. Overview of Major Initiatives:

The department takes a variety of actions based on these and other data sources and findings from the research literature to provide generic support to school districts for addressing a range of at-risk student behaviors. School districts, in turn, analyze local school and community data and other objective information to identify school-derived priorities, and match and apply the resources provided by the department to support local responses for the remediation or effective management of priority problems. While national, State and county data are not the sources for determining local priorities, these sources can provide comparison data to help school districts consider normative behavior and establish local priorities.

The department plans to continue and expand its efforts (See Appendix C) for addressing school violence. The following major initiatives are intended to prevent problem student behaviors, foster positive student development and promote safe, disciplined and drug-free schools. In many cases, they expand or strengthen the efforts of the department that are more fully described in Appendix C.

  1. Intervention and Referral Services: The department has made a substantial commitment to the effective implementation of coordinated, building-based systems of Intervention and Referral Services (I&RS), within school buildings in which general education students are served, by developing regulations, disseminating supportive materials and providing various training programs and technical assistance services for I&RS team members. The building-based I&RS teams, comprise classroom teachers, student support services staff and administrators, provide school staff with assistance in addressing challenges they are experiencing with student behavior, health and learning. The department is enhancing these efforts by implementing the following:
  • I&RS Data Collection Project - The department is currently collecting data from schools on the degree, quality and effects of the implementation of the I&RS regulations (N.J.A.C. 6A:16-8) and the department’s best practices model for implementing the I&RS regulations. The findings will be used to plan programs, services, materials, professional development and other activities to support the establishment and maintenance of an effective coordinated system of I&RS in each school building for addressing student learning, behavior or health difficulties.

  • I&RS Technical Assistance Project – The department has initiated a project designed to provide technical assistance, consultation, professional development, networking, materials development and dissemination services to support building and school district staff in the effective implementation of N.J.A.C. 6A:16-8 and the department’s best practices model in support of the I&RS regulations.

  • I&RS Professional Development Programs – The department plans to add to the already increased number of new professional development courses designed to supplement the department’s I&RS team training program and enhance the knowledge and skills of I&RS team members. The findings from the planned I&RS Data Collection Project and the I&RS Professional Development Needs Survey conducted in 2006 will be used to help the department increase the number and types of training programs made available to I&RS team members.
  1. Technical Assistance: The department supports direct technical assistance to schools focused on areas of identified need:
  • Unsafe School Choice Option Policy – The department will continue to identify schools as persistently dangerous or in early warning status, as well as special services schools, as required under the Unsafe School Choice Option (USCO) Policy. Assigned department staff will provide technical assistance to staff from identified schools in the fulfillment of their obligations under the federally-mandated USCO Policy, including the development and implementation of corrective action plans and school safety plans.

  • Title IV-A and Unsafe School Choice Option Training and Technical Assistance Project – The department plans to continue this initiative, which provides school and department staff with technical assistance, training services and support for resource development for the successful implementation of the requirements of the federal Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act (SDFSCA) and the department’s Unsafe School Choice Option Policy. The project provides specific assistance to schools identified as persistently dangerous and those in early warning status to develop plans that focus on implementing programs and strategies to reduce violence in the schools.

  • Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying (HIB) Initiative – Based, in part, upon the proceedings from a bullying advisory forum held in the summer of 2007, the department intends to implement a statewide HIB prevention and intervention initiative designed to provide technical assistance and support to school district staff for the development and implementation of effective HIB policies, procedures and practices.
  1. Implementation of Evidence-based Strategies: Through its collaborations with other institutions, the department has supported the implementation of evidence-based strategies by means of a series of pilot projects described below. The findings from these projects will be shared with schools statewide to inform their selection of programs and strategies to improve student conduct.
  • Developing Safe and Civil Schools: A Coordinated Approach for Social-Emotional and Character Development – This initiative has been expanded to include more school districts and schools and to strengthen the system of mentors available to support New Jersey school staff in applying the findings from the social-emotional learning and character development (SECD) research literature. The project is designed to increase coordination and decrease program and service gaps and overlap among SECD-related and other educational initiatives.

  • Positive Student Discipline Reform Demonstration Project – The findings from this four-year research project will be made available to all school districts to assist them in implementing comprehensive and scientifically based safety and student conduct policies and practices that maximize supportive school responses to student concerns and minimize the use of exclusion from school as a response to violations of local codes of student conduct.

  • Social Norms Project – This project has been expanded to include more school districts. The project is designed to apply established social psychological principles concerning the influence of group norms on individual behavior to reduce student alcohol, tobacco and other drug use in participating high schools and bullying, harassment and intimidation behavior in participating middle schools.
  1. Random Testing of Alcohol and Controlled Dangerous Substances: Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:40A-25, the New Jersey State Board of Education adopted regulations at N.J.A.C. 6A:16-4.4 that apply only to districts that choose to adopt a policy for the random suspicionless testing of alcohol and controlled dangerous substances of the district’s ninth through twelfth grade students who participate in extracurricular activities or who possess parking permits. These rules implement the Governor’s and Legislature’s desire to establish parameters for implementing random drug testing as a means to deter alcohol and other drug use and for the early detection of students with alcohol or other drug problems so that counseling and rehabilitative services may be offered.

  2. The Federal Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act (SDFSCA) Program: SDFSCA (Title IV-A of the No Child Left Behind Act) is the department's sole source of dedicated funding for the promotion, implementation and support of best practices for violence and substance abuse prevention and intervention in New Jersey schools. A total of $7.3 million dollars were provided to local school districts through the department for this purpose in 2007-08. While the department was able to leverage carry-forward funds for a 5.3 percent increase in the total amount provided to LEAs in 2007-08, the federal allocation represented a 24 percent reduction in federal funding provided to school districts under the SDFSCA for the 2006-07 school year. This funding decrease dramatically reduced the fiscal resources available to schools and the department for responding to school safety and security needs. An additional 15 percent reduction in federal SDFSCA funds has been announced for 2008-09, with virtually no possibility of the availability of carry-forward funds to offset the additional decrease. As a result, it is anticipated that there will be a 40 percent reduction in 2008-09 SDFSCA funds over the 2006-07 allocation. These reductions will sorely challenge the department to fulfill the obligations set forth in the Title IV-A statute, support the statewide initiatives described in this Programmatic Response section and in greater detail in Appendix C, as well as support new activities, assignments and emergent issues, despite rising costs, reduced fiscal resources and ever increasing demands for assured school safety and security.

  3. School Safety and Security: The department has demonstrated its commitment to address the school safety and security needs of schools by developing regulations, creating and disseminating resources and materials and providing training and technical assistance. Through its three safety and security staff in the Office of Educational Support Services, the department has done the following:
  • Conducted statewide and regional training for educators and key stakeholders on safety and security issues;

  • Provided technical assistance to educators and other state, county and local officials to support the development of plans and procedures that are consistent with the School Safety & Security Manual and N.J.A.C. 6A:16-5, School Safety and Security;

  • Expanded the use of its School Security Web-site by adding sections that include information and links to information on bullying & cyber bullying, the School Security Task Force and pandemic and health-related, resources; regularly updated school safety and security bulletins; and provided opportunities for on-line requests for technical assistance;

  • Continued to provide schools with information on emergent best practices and support for developing the minimum requirements of school districts’ safety and security plans; and

  • Assisted local school officials in updating their School Safety and Security Audits in the School Safety and Security Checklist Database (SSSCD), and provided both state and county agencies and schools with access to the SSSCD system to generate reports for use in state, county and local school safety and security planning.
  1. Data Quality: The department endeavors to improve the quality of data and their use in program planning and assessment through the development of programs, training and a special data collection:
  • In cooperation with New Jersey Network, the department produced an EVVRS instructional program in DVD format that contains dramatizations of the types of incidents which school and district staff find difficult to classify as incidents to be reported over the EVVRS. Basic information on the system, a description of the roles of staff, principals and chief school administrators and the uses of EVVRS data are explained. The DVD program was distributed to all schools and school districts in the fall of 2007.

  • A guide to the use of the DVD program will be provided to school districts at the beginning of the 2008-09 school year. The training guide will provide ideas for effective uses of the new video program in school districts’ in-service training programs designed to foster accuracy when school staff report incidents of violence, vandalism and substance abuse.

  • The department made modifications to the EVVRS for the 2007-08 school year that reflect changes in incident definitions and in federal reporting requirements. The revised system was redeployed in the fall of 2007.

  • The department will initiate the first stages of data collection on school districts’ implementation of their codes of student conduct, to fulfill the new reporting requirements in N.J.A.C. 6A:16, Programs to Support Student Development. Under the regulations at N.J.A.C. 6A:16-7.1(a)6, all chief school administrators are responsible for submitting an annual report to the department, in a format prescribed by the Commissioner of Education, that includes all student suspensions and expulsions, information on the implementation of the code of student conduct, and information on the implementation of the student attendance regulations at N.J.A.C. 6A:16-7.8(d).
  1. Uniform State Memorandum of Agreement: The department, in collaboration with the Attorney General’s Education – Law Enforcement Working Group, revised the Uniform State Memorandum of Agreement between Education and Law Enforcement Officials, which was disseminated to all school districts in November 2007. The revisions include information on school security plans and training; gang threats, recruitment and information sharing; harassment, intimidation and bullying; hazing, offenses involving computer crimes, reports of child abuse and neglect, law enforcement units, inquiries regarding law enforcement operations, stationhouse adjustments, notification of arrests or charges filed against school personnel, notification of emergencies and School Violence Awareness Week.

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, the superintendent of schools shall report to the board of education all acts of violence and vandalism which occurred during the previous school year. 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.

Approved February 15, 2007.

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.


Appendix B: Data Collection Form


Appendix C: Department Initiatives

NOTE: Appendix C is organized by categories to assist the reader. Multi-faceted programs may appear under more than one category with the description highlighting the program components that support the category.

A. Policy, Data Collection and Publications

Policy

  1. Administrative Code

The chapter of administrative code titled Programs to Support Student Development (N.J.A.C. 6A:16), which was first adopted by the State Board of Education in April 2001, sets 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. In August 2005, the State Board of Education adopted new regulations on student conduct as subchapter seven (N.J.A.C. 6A:16-7, Student Conduct) within N.J.A.C. 6A:16, as well as technical amendments to the subchapters on school safety, law enforcement operations for substances, weapons and safety and intervention and referral services. Additionally, N.J.A.C. 6A:16, Programs to Support Development, was re-adopted, with significant amendments throughout, in August 2006. The regulations at N.J.A.C. 6A:16 include standards for health services, alcohol, tobacco and other drug abuse programs and procedures, school safety and security, law enforcement operations, student conduct, intervention and referral services, alternative education programs, home or out-of-school instruction and reporting potentially missing or abused children.

In November 20007, the State Board of Education adopted regulations for voluntary policies for random testing of student alcohol or other drug use (N.J.A.C. 6A:16-4.4) in compliance with N.J.S.A. 18A:40A-22 et seq. The regulations apply only to district boards of education that choose to adopt policies and procedures for the random testing of students in grades nine through twelve who participate in extra-curricular activities, including interscholastic athletics, or who possess parking permits.

  1. Unsafe School Choice Option Policy

As a condition for receiving funds under the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), the department is required to implement a statewide policy mandating that students who attend persistently dangerous schools, as determined by the department, 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 (Unsafe School Choice Option, Title IX, Part E, Subpart 2, Section 9532 of the No Child Left Behind Act). The department’s policy was adopted by the State Board of Education in June 2003. All local educational agencies must comply with the provisions of the policy, as appropriate.

  1. Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying (HIB)

New Jersey statute (N.J.S.A. 18A:37-13 et seq.) adopted in 2002 required the department to develop and issue a model policy on HIB applicable to grades kindergarten through twelve. The department’s model HIB policy was developed and first disseminated in December 2002 and updated in the spring of 2006 and again in the spring of 2007. The model HIB policy can be found at: http://www.state.nj.us/njded/parents/bully.htm. Pertinent regulations (N.J.A.C. 6A:16-7.9) can be found at: http://www.state.nj.us/njded/code/current/title6a/chap16.pdf. In the 2007-08 school year, staff from the department’s project titled Title IV-A and Unsafe School Choice Option Policy Training and Technical Assistance Project will review all school district’s HIB policies. Feedback will be provided to school districts based on the findings of the review.

  1. School Violence Awareness Week

The department has provided guidelines and information to local boards of education for use in planning the activities that are required in observance of School Violence Awareness Week (N.J.S.A. 18:36-5.1 and N.J.A.C. 6A:16-5.2) for each year that the requirements have been in effect (see http://www.state.nj.us/njded/students/safety/violence.htm). Pertinent regulations can be found at: http://www.state.nj.us/njded/code/current/title6a/chap16.pdf.

  1. Public Hearings on School Violence and Vandalism

Since N.J.S.A. 18A:17-46 and N.J.A.C. 6A:16-5.2(a)4 and 5.3(f) have required school districts to conduct annual public hearings on violence and vandalism, the department has annually provided guidelines and information to local boards of education for complying with the requirements. The guidelines in effect for the 2006-07 school year can be found at: http://www.state.nj.us/njded/students/safety/violence.htm. While N.J.S.A. 18A:17-46 was amended in 2007 to lessen the particulars of the reporting mandate on districts, the annual local reporting requirement remains in effect. Districts must continue to hold an annual public hearing, and verification remains a part of State monitoring. However, districts are no longer required to hold the public hearing in October and the proceedings do not have to be kept on file or made available to the public. In addition, the department is no longer required to review or maintain the district’s transcripts of the hearing.

  1. Alternative Education

Alternative education programs offer a necessary and viable educational option for students who have been removed from school due to conduct violations, who are not engaged in school, who have lost their commitment to school or who have not succeeded in school, and provide them with a program to address their individualized needs. Regulations for alternative education programs were revised and adopted in 2006 at N.J.A.C. 6A:16-9 to assure available quality programs for at-risk students. The revised rules change the program approval process, permit non-district educational agencies to establish programs, and strengthen program standards of alternative education programs.

Data Collection

  1. Prevention Data Grant

The Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention Data Grant Project is a three-year grant (2004-2007) from the U.S. Department of Education to improve the use of data in the management of drug and violence prevention programs. The grant funds have supported technological enhancement of the Title IV-A program plan section of the No Child Left Behind electronic application in order to make district plans more transparent and accessible to the public. The grant also supports: development of an EVVRS data warehouse that provides the public with school-level violence and vandalism data; a study leading to recommendations on enhancing participation in student surveys about at-risk behavior; and a series of county forums to broaden the use of data and collaborative participation in the drug and violence planning process at the county and local levels.

  1. New Jersey Student Health Survey

The New Jersey Student Health Survey is administered bi-annually among a sample of public school students. This survey, which is based on the Youth Risk Behavior Survey sponsored by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), asks students to self-report on their actions and attitudes in six areas that are highly related to preventable, high-risk behaviors and premature injury or illness. The survey contains items on lifetime and recent use of alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana as well as lifetime use of other drugs. Concerning violence, the survey includes questions on carrying weapons, fighting, having personal property stolen at school, having been hit by a boyfriend or girlfriend, having been forced to have sex and having tried to commit suicide. The findings are used by state agencies for planning, program assessment and federal reporting. The department uses the findings to gauge progress in reducing the various high-risk behaviors and to identify need for further programming. A full report of findings from the 2005 survey plus a summary report are available at http://www.state.nj.us/education/students/yrbs/index.html. The results of the 2007 survey will be available in summer 2008.

  1. School Safety and Security Checklist Audits

The Department of Education has administrative and program management responsibilities for overseeing the School Safety and Security Checklist (SSSC) and Data Base. The checklist was developed with input from the Department of Law and Public Safety and the audits were conducted by local law enforcement and the New Jersey State Police with school administrators. The database contains the 2005 results of these on-site safety and security audits of all school buildings in New Jersey. The results of the audits are confidential and shall not be deemed a public record under the provision of the N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1 et seq. or the common law concerning access to public records.

Based on analysis of the data from over 3,400 SSSC audits, the department staff created a training plan to provide direct technical assistance to public and nonpublic schools and on-site consultation on request. These efforts supported the development and implementation of best practices and corrective actions for safety and security vulnerabilities. The database has been modified to permit local school administrators to periodically update their 2005 SSSC audits in order to inform the state of how they have enhanced school security or addressed a particular deficiency identified during the previous audit. The department uses the audit information to define training goals and inform new school safety and security polices.

Publications and Materials

  1. Resource Manual for Intervention and Referral Services

In support of the Intervention and Referral Services (I&RS) regulations (N.J.A.C. 6A:16-8), the publication titled Resource Manual for Intervention and Referral Services was reprinted and made available to districts in August 2005. The manual is posted at: http://www.state.nj.us/njded/students/irs/. A new package of I&RS Program Materials was distributed to all school districts in September 2005. The following materials are included in the package:

  • A four-part series prepared in VHS videotape and DVD formats, which addresses the following topics – Program Overview (Part 1), Planning and Organizing the Program (Part 2), The I&RS Process (Part 3) and Innovations and Best Practices (Part 4);

  • A flyer, which contains concise descriptions of the I&RS technical support materials made available by the department; and

  • A CD-ROM containing an electronic file of the Resource Manual for Intervention and Referral Services, sample forms and other supportive information and resources for I&RS teams.

These materials were created to support school-based I&RS teams in fulfilling the requirements of the I&RS regulations at N.J.A.C. 6A:16-8; to assist in the provision of professional development programs for staff; and to increase community awareness of the I&RS regulations.

  1. School Safety and Security Manual: Best Practices Guidelines

To assist districts in developing and enhancing School Safety and Security Plans, as mandated under N.J.A.C. 6A:16 5.1, the revised School Safety & Security Manual: Best Practice Guidelines was made available electronically to all chief school administrators of public and nonpublic schools in January 2007. The manual is posted on a secure website that requires an access password. The information contained within the School Safety & Security Manual: Best Practice Guidelines is confidential and shall not be deemed a public record under the provision of the N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1 et seq. or the common law concerning access to public records.

Communication with other state agencies and infrastructure sectors and feedback from school staff who used the manual to develop their comprehensive crisis emergency management plans informed the revisions. The manual’s content was expanded to include information on gang awareness, communication protocols, pandemic and continuity planning, and the four phases of crisis planning. One section of the manual is dedicated to Behavioral Threat Assessment, which is intended to increase the abilities of school officials to assess and prevent behaviors of concern, including illegal gang activity, at all stages of identification. In addition, the manual includes a detailed narrative of the National Incident Command System, which is to be used as the organizing system for crisis response, and an overview of responses and strategies for each type of weapon and chemical, biological, and radioactive agent.

  1. Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying

The department developed a model policy prohibiting harassment, intimidation, and bullying (HIB) applicable to grades kindergarten through twelve to assist school districts. The policy stipulates remedial actions and consequences for HIB, as mandated under N.J.S.A. 18A:37-13 et seq. and N.J.A.C. 6A:16-7.9. Updated in the April 2007, the policy may be found at http://www.state.nj.us/njded/parents/bully.htm.

  1. Memorandum of Agreement

As described in the subchapter of administrative code, Law Enforcement Operations for Substances, Weapons and Safety (N.J.A.C. 6A:16-6), school districts are required to establish memorandums of agreement with local law enforcement authorities. The agreements, which are reviewed and signed annually by local education and law enforcement officials, form the basis for sharing information between education and law enforcement representatives and sets parameters for law enforcement investigations. The agreements must be consistent with the format and content established by the Attorney General and the Commissioner of Education, known as the Uniform State Memorandum of Agreement between Education and Law Enforcement Officials (MOA).

In November 2007, the Attorney General and the Commissioner of Education issued a revised MOA, which included new information on school safety and security, including information on school security plans and training; gang threats, recruitment and information sharing; harassment, intimidation and bullying, offenses involving computers, hazing, reports of child abuse or neglect, law enforcement units, inquiries regarding law enforcement operations, stationhouse adjustments, notification of arrests or charges filed against school personnel, notification of emergencies and School Violence Awareness Week. The current model MOA can be found at: http://www.state.nj.us/education/schools/security/regs/agree.doc.

  1. Public Access to EVVRS Data

In January 2007, the department opened a Web site (http://www.state.nj.us/education/schools/vandv/index.html) that holds school, district and state summary data from the Electronic Violence and Vandalism Reporting System (EVVRS) for the 2002-03 through 2005-06 school years. Members of the public may view statewide trends, district trends by major reporting category, and incident detail (e.g., the number of fights) for any public school. This type of information can put the violence and vandalism data of any one school or district in perspective and assist in the review of the summary Annual District Report of Violence and Vandalism presented, by law, at an annual public hearing conducted by the chief school administrator.

B. Prevention and Intervention Programs

  1. Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act Program

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 (Title IV-A of the No Child Left Behind Act), a total of $7.3 million dollars was provided through the department to local school districts for this purpose in 2007-08. While the department was able to leverage carry-forward funds for a 5.3 percent increase in the total amount provided to LEAs in 2007-08, the federal allocation represented a 24 percent reduction in federal funding provided under the SDFSCA for the 2006-07 school years. This funding decrease dramatically reduced the fiscal resources available to schools and the department for responding to school safety and security needs. An additional 15 percent reduction in federal SDFSCA funds has been announced for 2008-09, with virtually no possibility of the availability of carry forward funds to offset the additional decrease. As a result, by 2008-09 it is anticipated that there will be a 40 percent reduction in SDFSCA funds over the 2006-07 allocation.

  1. Homeland Security Grant

The department was awarded a Homeland Security grant from the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety for the 2005-2007 school years. Funding from this grant is being used to support two key school safety and security goals. The first goal is to increase the critical infrastructure protection of school facilities and school staff and students by identifying and reducing vulnerabilities, preventing acts of terrorism and other traumas and maximizing response to and recovery from terrorism, sudden traumatic loss and other emergencies and crises. The second goal is to provide training and technical assistance services to school staff for the efficient and effective response to terrorism, sudden traumatic loss and other emergencies and crises.

Two safety and security planners funded under the grant and one reassigned state-funded position provide supportive services to schools for the planning, coordination and maintenance of safety and security for students, staff and school facilities. These dedicated positions provide technical support to school staff for the implementation of the best practices described in the School Safety Manual: Best Practices Guidelines. Additionally, they address priority safety and security needs of schools identified by the department, in cooperation with the Domestic Security Preparedness Task Force (DSPTF), through review of baseline data provided on the School Safety and Security Checklist (SSSC) by school and law enforcement officials. These staff conduct school site visits, provide direct technical assistance to schools statewide and provide statewide, regional and local training to educators on safety and security issues. Finally, department staff collaborate with the Office of the Attorney General, Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (OHSP), the State Police, the Office of Emergency Management, other state, county and local agencies, and critical infrastructure sectors identified by the DSPTF for the statewide coordination of services designed to support school safety and security.

  1. Core Curriculum Content Standards

New regulations for Core Curriculum Content Standards in Comprehensive Health and Physical Education (N.J.A.C. 6A:8) were adopted by the State Board of Education in April 2004. These standards contain specific indicators under Standards 2.1 (Wellness - health promotion concepts and skills), 2.2 (Integrated Skills - health enhancing personal, interpersonal and life skills) 2.3 (Drugs and Medicines – Information to make decisions that support a healthy active lifestyle) 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. 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.

  1. Intervention and Referral Services

The Intervention and Referral Services (I&RS) Initiative supports implementation of the I&RS regulations (N.J.A.C. 6A:16-8) by providing technical assistance to districts for the establishment of building-based (grades K-12) multidisciplinary problem-solving teams. The I&RS team are required 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 to I&RS teams provided by the department includes a cooperative project with Stockton College titled Intervention sand Referral Services Technical Assistance Project; a comprehensive Resource Manual for Intervention and Referral Services; a set of I&RS Program Materials, which include a four-part series prepared in VHS videotape and DVD formats, an I&RS program flyer and a CD-ROM containing an electronic file of the Resource Manual for Intervention and Referral Services and other supportive materials; and the provision of training programs to prepare building-based teams to implement the I&RS regulations, as well as additional training programs designed to supplement I&RS team members’ knowledge and skills regarding effective team, intervention and instructional practices.

  1. Positive Student Discipline Reform Demonstration Project

The department 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) under which VINJ implemented and evaluated a research-based approach to school safety, including student discipline and positive student development, in three New Jersey school districts. The goal of the four-year project (2003-2007) was to create safety and order in participating schools without unnecessarily excluding students. The project involved 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 maximized supportive school responses to student concerns and minimized the use of student exclusion from school as a disciplinary tool. In project year one, all three districts completed needs assessments, provided orientations for district staff and developed program plans in consultation with a representative group of school and community members. In project year two, the participating districts began implementing program plans, including leadership development for administrators and selecting and implementing comprehensive frameworks to support programs currently in place. In project year three, participating districts implemented program plans, including the provision of leadership training for administrators, actively using project data to systematically assess needs and enhance project implementation and final project evaluation. In project year four, districts continued to implement program plans and institutionalize project initiatives, while VINJ concluded the evaluation of the project. It is anticipated that final project findings will be disseminated to all school districts in the 2008-09 school year.

  1. Social Norms Project

The department is collaborating with the Center for Addiction Studies (CAS) at Rowan University to implement and evaluate the third year of a five-year project that uses the social norms approach for (1) reducing the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs among students in nine New Jersey high schools, and (2) reducing bullying, harassment and intimidation behavior among students in thirteen New Jersey middle schools. The project is based, in part, on the successful research-based project of the New Jersey Higher Education Consortium that was designed to alter social norms and behavior regarding the use of harmful substances among students in participating institutions of higher education and the social norms research conducted by Dr. H. Wesley Perkins and Dr. David Craig.

Reports from the social norms research literature indicate that regardless of the actual incidence and prevalence of a problem, perception of the pervasiveness of the problem behavior typically exceeds the actual problem. Therefore, the goal of the Social Norms Project is to use established social psychological principles concerning the influence of group norms on individual behavior to reduce student alcohol, tobacco and other drug use and bullying, harassment and intimidation behavior in the participating schools, as appropriate.

Under the Social Norms Project, CAS performs assessments to determine actual norms regarding alcohol, tobacco and other drug use and bullying, harassment and intimidation behavior in participating schools, as appropriate, and develops and implements marketing campaigns to inform students, school staff, parents and other community members of these norms. It is anticipated that as the actual behavioral norms become known in school communities, the incidence and prevalence of student alcohol, tobacco and other drug use and bullying, harassment and intimidation behavior will be reduced. It is planned that at the conclusion of the program all school districts will receive a report of project findings and materials specifically designed to support implementation of locally driven social norms projects.

  1. Developing Safe and Civil Schools: A Collaborative Approach

Reports of the research literature document that when social-emotional and academic learning both become part of schooling, students are more likely to remember and apply what they are taught. Findings from the research literature also indicate that schools can benefit from applying proven strategies for enhancing academic and social-emotional learning, which have demonstrated improved academic achievement and reduced high-risk behavior. In response to these important findings, the department is collaborating with Rutgers University to provide technical support to schools in fully integrating social-emotional learning (SEL) and character development throughout their educational programs.

a primary tenet of the project is that successful performance of students can be enhanced through supportive SEL and character development programs and services that are designed to increase coordination and decrease program and service gaps and overlap among SEL-related and other educational initiatives. To accomplish this end, the various programs and services in schools related to student conduct (e.g., substance abuse prevention, violence, vandalism and bullying prevention, school safety) and positive youth development (e.g., service learning, character education) are being optimized in their individual effectiveness and will be synergistically linked. The training, technical assistance and other supportive services and resources provided or coordinated by Rutgers University under the third year of this five-year project are intended to assist school staff in organizing the various resources, programs and services to create strong SEL and character development conditions, designed to result in reduced at-risk student behavior, the development of positive learning climates and improved academic performance among students in participating schools.

In 2007-08, schools receiving low scores on the School Climate Standard resulting from the Collaborative Assessment for Planning and Achievement review were given special consideration for participation in the project. Under the project, working relationships were established among 30 participating school districts and their school staff, experts from the national Collaborative for Academic Social and Emotional Learning and New Jersey experts with demonstrated experience in creating well-coordinated and effective SEL conditions in schools to support project initiatives. Participating school districts and schools receive assistance in selecting, developing and implementing projects based on findings derived from a needs assessment. Projects are designed to have a measurable impact on school violence, school climate and student academic performance. Information on final project findings will be made available to all school districts upon the conclusion of the project.

  1. 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program

Under Title IV, Part B of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001, 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) are defined as centers that offer academic remediation and enrichment activities in tandem with a broad array of other enrichment activities in the areas of arts and culture, youth development, and physical activity to students and their adult family members when school is not in session. Under this federal program, the department has awarded grants to fund 53 programs operating in 141 sites and serving approximately 22,000 youth in grades four through twelve. Along with the academic enrichment component, programs are required to infuse character education throughout their program and may offer a student mentoring component, which research reports indicate helps to reduce participation in gang-related activities.

Research suggests that consistent involvement in a quality after school or out of school time programs can lead to positive outcomes for youth and enable them to make healthy life choices. Additionally, the department believes that utilizing strategies that promote and maintain youth engagement will enhance school cline, reduce school violence and disruption, improve student attendance, and promote academic success.

  1. Character Education

In 2002, New Jersey was one of only five states to receive a four-year federal grant award under the Partnerships in Character Education grant (PCEP) program (Title V, Part D of the No Child Left Behind Act). With this grant, the department created the New Jersey Center for Character Education (NJCCE) at Rutgers, the State University’s Center for Applied Psychology. The NJCCE provided in-depth technical assistance and opportunities for professional development and skill enhancement to public and nonpublic schools throughout the state to help schools adopt programs and strategies that have been proven effective.

Under a new federal PCEP, awarded in July 2006, the department is building upon the accomplishments of the previous grant program. This four-year $2.78 million grant has enabled the department to begin to incorporate character education into the mainstream of changes that are occurring in curriculum standards and student services by: 1) increasing the capacity of New Jersey school systems to implement and sustain character education and social-emotional learning programs in the context of current state reform efforts; and 2) evaluating the impact of character education on the social inclusion of students with disabilities.

As the national Character Education Partnership’s (CEP) first state affiliate, New Jersey launched the State Schools of Character program in 2006. New Jersey awarded seven New Jersey State Schools of Character (NJSOC) in 2007 (three schools were awarded as honorable mentions and seven as emerging schools). The award acknowledges schools that have sustained their efforts to mold student development based on core ethical values through quality programming in social and character development using the national Quality Standards for Effective Character Education. Nationally, New Jersey has produced seventy-four awardees including National School of Character recipients, finalists and Promising Practice citations, placing the state in the forefront of character education in the country. Acknowledgement of the schools and the sharing of their accomplishments motivates others to implement programs that will positively impact student behavior.

  1. Peer Transitions Project

This project, which is scheduled to end in the 2007-08 school year, built upon the existing network of peer leadership programs in New Jersey established under the New Jersey Middle School Peer-to-Peer Program, that was initiated as a collaborative effort among the department, the Division of Addiction Services (DAS) of the Department of Human Services, the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse and the Department of Law and Public Safety. The 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. The department provided a seventh and final year of funding to DAS to expand the Peer Transitions Project in 2006-07 by adding new schools in the project while maintaining support for schools already participating in the project. A project manual titled Best Practices for a Peer Transitions Project was disseminated to all school districts supported by regional workshops in the fall of 2007 to support school staff in the planning, development and implementation of local peer transitions projects.

  1. Drug Abuse Education Fund Project

As required under N.J.S.A. 2C:43-3.5 and N.J.S.A..54A:9-25.12 et seq., a Drug Abuse Education Fund was established from portions of taxpayer-designated refunds and penalties assessed against individuals adjudicated or convicted of certain crimes. A portion of the resources accumulated in the fund are appropriated annually to the department for distribution to non-governmental entities for the use of law enforcement personnel in providing drug abuse education to students in grades kindergarten through twelve on a statewide basis. Under the appropriation for these statutory provisions, funds have been provided annually to D.A.R.E., New Jersey, Inc. for the provision of substance abuse education to students in New Jersey schools.

C. Collaboration, Professional Development and Technical Support

Collaboration

  1. Domestic Security Preparedness Task Force

In response to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the Governor created the Domestic Security Preparedness Task Force, pursuant to P.L.2001, ch. 246, the Domestic Security Preparedness Act, which is chaired by the Director of the Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (OHSP) and includes representatives from appropriate state agencies. As a result of task force planning, a committee was formed to specifically address the unique needs of schools for responding to potential attacks and threats. The Infrastructure Advisory Committee - School Sector recommended the development of a publication titled School Safety and Security Manual: Best Practices Guidelines. In January 2007, the manual was revised and disseminated to all chief school administrators as a secure document.

In support of the School Safety and Security Manual, interdepartmental meetings, including representatives from the department, Office of the Attorney General, State Police, Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, state and county offices of emergency management, county prosecutors, county superintendents of schools and other state agencies, focus on identifying and assessing emerging needs regarding safety and security. Additionally, key stakeholders are meeting to develop and disseminate the minimum requirements for district’s school safety and security procedures.

  1. Governor’s School Security Task Force

In October 2006, Governor Jon S. Corzine announced the creation of a School Security Task Force to evaluate security measures at New Jersey schools. The School Security Task Force has brought together state, county and local government as well as members of the education and law enforcement communities. The Department of Education and Attorney General’s Office have worked closely with the Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness on this topic. The department works with the Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, responsible for chairing the task force, to provide key technical assistance and guidance in response to policy development for school safety and security.

The members of the task force include county prosecutors, county superintendents, district superintendents, NJEA, DCF, Nonpublic, Fire Officials, State Police and municipal law enforcement officials all playing important roles.

  1. Governor’s Safe Streets and Neighborhoods Plan

The department assisted in the development of, and is promoting the implementation of the Governor’s Safe Streets and Neighborhoods Plan by participating on the Delinquency Prevention Subcommittee and the umbrella committee. This multi-level, multi-agency initiative has identified prevention, intervention, enforcement and re-entry mechanisms, best practices and resources to help reduce the criminal behavior of youth, including gang-related activities. As a part of this comprehensive initiative, the department is coordinating with the Juvenile Justice Commission, the Administrative Office of the Courts, the Department of Children and Families and the Department of State to develop a truancy prevention initiative intended for implementation in the 2008-09 school year.

  1. Collaboration with Mental Health Agencies and Student Support Staff

One of the conclusions drawn from widely public violent incidents in our society is that schools should examine how they collaborate with local mental health agencies and how they utilize existing student support services staff. The effective use of student support services staff and the development of cooperative relationships between them and mental health providers are important components of schools' responses to violence. Therefore, the department continues to forge links among New Jersey schools, mental health and other human service and health providers to establish effective working relationships, identify areas of concern and consider strategies for improving the delivery of student support services.

Specifically, department staff continue to serve on the New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of Mental Health Services’ statewide infrastructure advisory group on mental health services. Department staff also collaborate with the leadership of the Association of Student Assistance Professionals of New Jersey (ASAPNJ), the New Jersey Association of School Psychologists (NJASP) and the New Jersey School Counselors Association (NJSCA). Representatives of these organizations serve on advisory committees for department projects, including the Social Norms Project and the Developing Safe and Civil Schools: A Collaborative Approach to Social-Emotional and Character Development initiative.

  1. Collaboration with Child Welfare Agencies

Because the department recognizes that a child’s familial situation directly influences his or her behavior in school, the department has continued to nurture its collaborative efforts with child welfare agencies including the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and the Department of Human Services (DHS). The department continues to participate as a standing member of the Governor’s Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect and is working with New Jersey Child Assault Prevention (NJCAP) and other child advocacy entities. These collaborations are focused on facilitating improved supports to students whose families have been impacted by state intervention.

The department is exploring various ways to increase the knowledge of school staff and the inclusion of preventative and/or supportive efforts into the existing programs and services required of schools. The department adopted regulatory changes at N.J.A.C. 6A:16-11 that establishes policies and procedures related to reporting potentially missing or abused children. The adopted rules establish parameters for school districts in the development of policies and procedures for reporting potentially missing or abused children to law enforcement and child welfare authorities.

  1. Other Collaborative Partnerships

The department 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 Association of Federal Program Administrators, New Jersey Education Association, New Jersey Pupil Services Administrators Association, New Jersey School Counselors Association, Association of Student Assistance Professionals of New Jersey, New Jersey Association of Mental Health Agencies, New Jersey Association of School Psychologists, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), including the Violence Institute of New Jersey at UMDNJ and the County Traumatic Loss Coalitions for Youth administered by UMDNJ, the departments of State, Health and Senior Services, Human Services, Children and Families and Law and Public Safety, including the Juvenile Justice Commission and the Domestic Security Preparedness Task Force and affiliated committees and work groups, the Administrative Office of the Courts, the Attorney General’s Office, including the Education and Law Enforcement Working Group, and other organizations, associations and agencies.

The department continues to be represented on the following organizations and their subgroups: Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, Governor’s Youth Suicide Prevention Advisory Council, Governor’s Advisory Council on Domestic Violence, Governor’s Advisory Council on Sexual Violence, New Jersey Association of County Youth Services Coordinators, Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Committee and School-based Probation Committee, New Jersey Coalition for Bullying Awareness and Prevention, Childhood Drinking Coalition and Domestic Security Preparedness Task Force and intends to continue to support the various collaborative initiatives described above.

Professional Development and Technical Assistance

  1. Title IV-A and USCO Training and Technical Assistance Project

The department, in collaboration with the Center for Applied Psychology (CAP) at Rutgers University, is implementing this project designed to assist the department in fulfilling the statutory requirements of Title IV-A (the federal Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act) and the Unsafe School Choice Option (Title IX, Part E, Subpart 2, Section 9532) of the No Child Left Behind Act. The Title IV-A and Unsafe School Choice Option Training and Technical Assistance Project is intended to help the department increase its capacity for providing schools and DOE staff with technical assistance, training services and support for the successful implementation of the requirements under Title IV-A and the department’s Unsafe School Choice Option (USCO) Policy.

Under the project, CAP provides technical assistance, training services and support for resource development to assigned department staff and local educational agencies (LEAs) in implementing the provisions of Title IV-A. CAP also supports department staff and assists personnel from "persistently dangerous schools," "early warning schools" and special services schools identified under the USCO Policy in the development of corrective action plans or school safety plans, as appropriate. The plans are designed to reduce the number of incidents of violence in the identified schools, as determined based on the data collected in the Electronic Violence and Vandalism Reporting System.

Project staff provided training programs on the following topics in 2007-08: (1) Planning and Implementing a Comprehensive Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug (ATOD) Abuse Prevention Program; (2) Conducting Practical Needs Assessments; (3) Evaluating the Comprehensive ATOD Abuse Program for Results; (4) Reviewing Your District’s Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying Policy: and (5) Effective Collaborations with Parents and Community Members and Community Organizations. Project staff also are reviewing all school district’s HIB policies in the 2007-08 school year.

  1. School Safety and Security

The department’s School Security Unit created a comprehensive training plan for the

2006-07 academic year. To build the capacity of school staff, the school security unit has provided statewide, regional, and local training and technical assistance. Using information in the newly revised School Safety and Security Manual: Best Practices Guidelines, the training and technical assistance has facilitated effective crisis and emergency management planning, preparedness and responses. Communications with local law enforcement and state police and participant responses on workshop evaluation forms indicated that the trainings also have improved local-level expertise on safety and security best practices. Most of the fall training sessions concentrated on Crisis and Emergency Management Planning and Preparing Schools for a Pandemic. These interactions have helped the department identify areas where statewide policies and protocols need to be developed or revised to assist with statewide coordination. The following are some training and technical assistance highlights:

  • 2006 New Jersey Parent Teacher Association Annual Conference
  • Public LEA School Administrator School Security Refresher Training
  • Nonpublic School Administrator School Security Refresher Trainings
  • Salem County School Security Meeting
  • School Safety: PREVENT – PREPARE – RESPOND – RECOVER
    • Six Statewide Regional Trainings for Public School Administrators
    • Two Statewide Regional Trainings for Nonpublic School Administrators

By the end of 2006-07 academic year, the department had conducted 48 training and technical assistance sessions dedicated to school safety and security, serving approximately 2,000 participants.

Beginning with the 2007-08 school year and in accordance with S-1748, the department collaborated with the Attorney General’s Office to design and implement mandatory gang awareness training for all public school administrators. These training seminars focused on teaching school administrators to recognize signs of gang involvement or activity. Additionally, in support of a Governor’s priority, the department partnered with the Attorney General’s Office to design and provide enhanced Internet Safety training to teacher and school administrators statewide.

  1. School Security Web site

To assist schools in enhancing school safety and security and to align with Governor Corzine’s SAVE: Strategic Actions for Violence Elimination, a new school security initiative, the department developed a School Security Web site, http://www.nj.gov/njded/schools/security/. The new Web site is dedicated to providing school security information to students, school officials, and parents, but will prove to be a valuable resource to all members of the public. Currently, the website provides information about trainings, regulations, funding opportunities and other safety and security issues. It also provides a mechanism for school and district staff to request technical assistance from the department. In fall of 2007, the Web site was expanded to include health related links, frequently asked questions, and information on, and links to, programs that are vital to a school’s recovery following a violent incident or other emergency.

  1. Administrative Code

Training in the readopted chapter of the administrative code titled Programs to Support Student Development (N.J.A.C. 6A:16) was provided to staff from the county offices of education through three regional sessions held in the fall of 2006 and to all school staff through three regional sessions conducted in the spring of 2007. School and department staff were provided with information on current standards for health services, alcohol, tobacco and other drug abuse programs and procedures, school safety and security, law enforcement operations, student conduct, intervention and referral services, alternative education programs, home or out-of-school instruction and reporting potentially missing or abused children. Supportive materials on the regulations can be found at: http://www.nj.gov/education/edsupport/training/.

  1. Student Conduct

In 2008, the department provided training on the student conduct regulations (N.J.A.C. 6A:16-7) at the annual conference of the Association of Student Assistance Professionals of New Jersey. The department also provided various trainings in 2006-07 specifically on the student conduct regulations (N.J.A.C. 6A:16-7) in collaboration with the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association, the New Jersey Association of School Administrators, the New Jersey Association of Federal Program Administrators and the New Jersey Law Center.

  1. Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying

An updated version of the 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., was posted in the April 2007 at http://www.state.nj.us/njded/parents/bully.htm. Additionally, the Legislature amended the authorizing statute (N.J.S.A. 18A:37-13 et seq.) in August 2007 to require the inclusion of "electronic communication" in each school district’s harassment, intimidation and bullying policies and procedures and to mandate the submission of the revised policies and procedures to the respective county office of education.

  1. Electronic Violence and Vandalism Reporting System (EVVRS)

Regional trainings in the 2007-08 school year reached approximately 500 school staff with EVVRS reporting responsibilities. Training used scenarios to emphasize the need to report incidents that meet the criteria of the published definition of the offenses, demonstrated the use of the reports module to verify local data on the system, practiced navigating the system and reviewed the public access site for EVVRS data.

  1. Intervention and Referral Services

Teams of school staff from approximately 720 schools have been trained in the establishment of building-based teams of intervention and referral services (N.J.A.C. 6A:16-8) since April 2000, with 120 of the schools receiving training in the 2006-07 school year. In addition to providing annual team training, the department trained 360 school staff, who joined their school’s intervention and referral services (I&RS) teams subsequent to initial training, with 120 being trained in 2006-07. A supplemental training program titled A Crash Course in the Brain: Using Current Knowledge to Understand Students’ Difficulties and Help Them Succeed was designed specifically for trained I&RS team members was delivered to 60 I&RS team members in 2005-06. Five additional supplemental training programs expressly designed to address the ongoing professional development needs of I&RS teams, in accordance with the provisions of N.J.A.C. 6A:16-8.2(a)4 and 6A:16-8.2(a)5, were provided in 2006-07 on the following topics: (1) Developing Strategies to Address the Learning and Behavior Problems of Elementary School Students, ( 2) One Size Does Not Fit All: Developing Strategies to Address Learning and Behavior Problems of Middle School Students and (3) A Crash Course in the Brain: Using Current Knowledge to Understand Students’ Difficulties and Help Them Succeed. The same and additional supplemental training opportunities are being made available to I&RS team members in 2007-08.

  1. Unsafe School Choice Option Policy

No persistently dangerous schools were identified under the Unsafe School Choice Option (USCO) Policy for the 2007-08 school year, however, six schools were identified as being in early warning status. Training and technical assistance were provided to assigned department staff for supporting schools identified as persistently dangerous or in early warning status, as well as special services schools identified under the Unsafe School Choice Option (USCO) Policy. Assigned department staff provided ongoing technical assistance to identified schools in the fulfillment of their obligations under the USCO Policy, including the development and implementation of school safety plans. Staff from the Title IV-A and Unsafe School Choice Option Policy Training and Technical Assistance Project also provided technical support for the development and implementation of school safety plans to schools identified under the USCO policy.

  1. Positive Student Discipline Reform Demonstration Project

Regional workshops titled The Code of Student Conduct: Creating Positive School Climates were conducted in collaboration with the Rutgers University-Center for Social and Character Development. The workshops were designed to orient school staff to the findings from both the Positive Student Discipline Reform Demonstration Project, designed to implement and evaluate comprehensive and scientifically based safety and discipline policies and practices that maximize supportive school responses to student concerns and minimize the use of student exclusion from school as a disciplinary tool, and the Code of Student Conduct Training Project, designed to assist school districts in structuring and implementing a process to adopt and implement a code of student conduct supporting a positive school climate and student academic and social development, consistent with N.J.A.C. 6A:16-7.1, Code of student conduct.

  1. Social Norms Project

Training programs on the following topics were provided to schools participating in this project in 2007-08: 1) Introductory Training; 2) Marketing Strategies; 3) Data Collection; and 4) Marketing Success and Second Surveys.

  1. Technical Assistance

The department continues to provide technical support programs and services for the implementation of the regulations addressing school safety, violence, substance abuse, student conduct and health services found in N.J.A.C. 6A:16, Programs to Support Student Development and related statutes. The department, through the Title IV-A and Unsafe School Choice Options Training and Technical Assistance Project, provides assistance to schools in the effective implementation of the Principles of Effectiveness required under the federal Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act.


Appendix D: Weapons and Substance Detail

 

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

Three-Year Change

 

N

%

N

%

N

%

N

Weapons              
Handgun

7

0.5%

10

0.7%

11

0.8%

4

Rifle

0

0.0%

1

0.1%

0

0.0%

0

Air Gun

68

4.6%

108

7.4%

74

5.3%

6

Imitation Gun

101

6.8%

97

6.6%

90

6.5%

-11

Bomb - Exploded

4

0.3%

0

0.0%

4

0.3%

0

Bomb - Unexploded

3

0.2%

1

0.1%

3

0.2%

0

             

0

Knife

1,095

73.3%

1,052

71.9%

980

70.8%

-115

Pin

45

3.0%

30

2.1%

36

2.6%

-9

Chain

22

1.5%

21

1.4%

27

1.9%

5

Pepper Spray

12

0.8%

21

1.4%

18

1.3%

6

Other

137

9.2%

122

8.3%

142

10.3%

5

Total Weapons (duplicated*)

1,494

100.0%

1,463

100.0%

1,385

100.0%

-109

               
Substances              
Alcohol

546

18.8%

537

19.3%

496

17.6%

-50

Marijuana

1,898

65.3%

1,794

64.5%

1,809

64.1%

-89

Amphetamines

37

1.3%

39

1.4%

30

1.1%

-7

Party Drug

7

0.2%

12

0.4%

8

0.3%

1

Cocaine

109

3.8%

122

4.4%

105

3.7%

-4

Hallucinogens

10

0.3%

18

0.6%

16

0.6%

6

Narcotics

53

1.8%

51

1.8%

74

2.6%

21

Depressants

41

1.4%

22

0.8%

28

1.0%

-13

Steroids

2

0.1%

0

0.0%

5

0.2%

3

Prescription Drugs

125

4.3%

110

4.0%

149

5.3%

24

Inhalants

8

0.3%

4

0.1%

8

0.3%

0

Drug Paraphernalia

69

2.4%

72

2.6%

93

3.3%

24

Total Substances (duplicated*)

2,905

100.0%

2,781

100.0%

2,821

100.0%

-84

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

Appendix E: District Totals by County


Appendix F: Statistical Methods and Analysis

This section of the Report references the statistical analyses used to examine the three-year trends to determine if any of the observed changes are statistically significant.  When reviewing results of such an analysis, it is important to keep in mind that findings that are significant statistically may not be significant from a practical standpoint.  Practical significance asks the question: “Is this change, or this difference, large enough to merit some kind of action from a perspective of policy or practice?”  Practical significance is a matter of judgment wherein the magnitude of the difference observed is weighed against the particulars of what is being measured (e.g. the incident rate per thousand students as compared to the median school size).

Findings are reported in terms of rates per thousand students, or rates per ten thousand students, in order to provide a common metric for making comparisons (i.e., whole number results).  However, it should be emphasized that the reported results are for students statewide and should not be interpreted as representing what is happening at a given school, since the typical school enrollment is far less than ten thousand (or even a thousand) students.  For comparison, the median enrollment for high schools is approximately one thousand, for middle schools it is approximately five hundred; for elementary schools it is under four hundred; and for special services schools it is less than seventy.  When these results are rescaled to the median enrollment by school type, the findings reflect fractional changes (i.e. “partial incidents”) that would not be discernable at the school level; consequently, even if a finding is statistically significant (i.e. would not be likely just due to chance) it likely is not practically significant.

Findings of statistical significance without meaningful practical significance is not inconsistent or even unexpected; given several years of data from thousands of schools with over a million students it would be surprising not to find statistically significant results when looking at multiple measures.  Therefore, these results must be seen in the context of the magnitude of the observed change (i.e. one or more incidents) at a level of aggregation comparable to the relevant groupings of students (i.e. across hundreds of students as opposed to thousands) when determining whether the findings of statistical significance are also practically significant.

The statistical analyses employed adjusted for factors that are known to affect the overall counts, thus allowing for a more accurate comparisons.  First, the likelihood (probability) of the occurrence of one or more incidents, and the number of incidents for a given reporting category, are correlated to the number of students; therefore, the selected method calculates the rate of both the probability and the number of incidents per population per school.  This controls for the reporting variability at the school level as well as changes over time in the underlying population (e.g., growth or decline in enrollment), while incorporating information on school size schools.

Second, there are significant differences in the likelihood of the occurrence of one or more incidents and rates of reported incidents by school type (e.g. elementary, middle, high, and special services) by incident category.   For example, Table F.1 (below) shows that more than 85 percent of middle schools and more than 95 percent of high schools reported one or more (i.e. “any”) incidents, while less than 50 percent of all elementary schools reported one or more incidents.  Additionally, Table F.2 (below) shows that the relative rates of reported incidents per thousand students by school type differ markedly by category.  Thus, it is both reasonable and prudent to report results by school type so that these differences are not confounded or obscured; consequently, the statistical findings are reported by school type in Tables F.3 and F.4 (below).

Finally, the nature of the data also dictates the proper measurement approach.  A salient characteristic of incidents of substances, vandalism, violence, and weapons incidents is that they are relatively rare and that, except for sporadic “spikes” in the number of incidents, the counts tend to cluster near zero.  As a result, simple measures, such as the raw means in Table F.2, will be consistent but upwardly biased.7  A further consideration is that the data is reported at the school level and is highly variable across schools.  Accounting for this variability is essential to making precise and robust estimates. Overall rates should not be reported without some measure of how widely the counts “fluctuate,” as this provides information regarding the precision of the estimates (i.e. how certain we are that the “true value” is near the estimate).  This is of particular importance when making comparisons across groups and/or time and limits the choice of the statistical methods employed to detect “statistically significant” changes.  As a consequence, specific statistical techniques were employed to provide robust estimates of the likelihood of one or more incidents occurring within a category, as well as the predicted (i.e. “most likely” or “average”) number of incidents, given a school reports any incidents.8

______________________
7 Unadjusted averages overstate what is “expected” because they are “dragged” higher by a few schools with relatively high counts; compare the unadjusted rates in Table F.2 to the statistically corrected rates in Table F.4.

8 Incident rates were calculated only based on data from schools reporting incidents. This is because including all schools (i.e. those with zero incidents) does not allow the use of standard statistical models for counts (e.g. Poisson, negative binomial) as the data does not meet necessary distributional assumptions (all  the zeros distort the distribution, disrupting the needed “fit” for a “well behaved” model).

Table F.1: Count and Percentage of Schools with One or More (Any) Incidents Compared to No Incidents by Major Category by School Type by Year

        04-05 05-06 06-07
Category School Type Incidents? Count Percent Count Percent Count Percent
Overall Elementary

Any

564

43.1%

588

44.7%

575

43.5%

None

746

57.0%

728

55.3%

747

56.5%

Middle

Any

549

82.2%

561

83.1%

570

85.1%

None

119

17.8%

114

16.9%

100

14.9%

High

Any

367

92.4%

365

92.9%

373

94.0%

None

30

7.6%

28

7.1%

24

6.1%

Special

Any

42

50.0%

36

43.9%

38

46.3%

None

42

50.0%

46

56.1%

44

53.7%

Substances Elementary

Any

6

0.5%

11

0.8%

8

0.6%

None

1304

99.5%

1311

99.2%

1308

99.4%

Middle

Any

133

19.9%

139

20.6%

130

19.4%

None

535

80.1%

536

79.4%

540

80.6%

High

Any

294

74.1%

299

76.1%

305

76.8%

None

103

25.9%

94

23.9%

92

23.2%

Special

Any

20

24.4%

18

22.0%

17

20.2%

None

62

75.6%

64

78.1%

67

79.8%

Vandalism Elementary

Any

382

29.2%

336

25.4%

373

28.3%

None

928

70.8%

986

74.6%

943

71.7%

Middle

Any

314

47.0%

342

50.7%

343

51.2%

None

354

53.0%

333

49.3%

327

48.8%

High

Any

290

73.1%

301

76.6%

304

76.6%

None

107

27.0%

92

23.4%

93

23.4%

Special

Any

24

29.3%

22

26.8%

26

31.0%

None

58

70.7%

60

73.2%

58

69.1%

Violence Elementary

Any

303

23.1%

351

26.6%

331

25.2%

None

1007

76.9%

971

73.5%

985

74.9%

Middle

Any

460

68.9%

477

70.7%

490

73.1%

None

208

31.1%

198

29.3%

180

26.9%

High

Any

344

86.7%

342

87.0%

346

87.2%

None

53

13.4%

51

13.0%

51

12.9%

Special

Any

30

36.6%

28

34.2%

37

44.1%

None

52

63.4%

54

65.9%

47

56.0%

Weapons Elementary

Any

131

10.0%

153

11.6%

144

10.9%

None

1179

90.0%

1169

88.4%

1172

89.1%

Middle

Any

266

39.8%

270

40.0%

253

37.8%

None

402

60.2%

405

60.0%

417

62.2%

High

Any

224

56.4%

211

53.7%

219

55.2%

None

173

43.6%

182

46.3%

178

44.8%

Special

Any

17

20.7%

21

25.6%

19

22.6%

None

65

79.3%

61

74.4%

65

77.4%

Table F.2: Unadjusted Incident Rate per Thousand Students for Schools

Reporting Incidents by Major Incident Category by School Type by Year

Raw Rate Per Thousand

Category

School Type

04-05 05-06 06-07
Overall

Elementary

8.77

8.56

9.32

Middle

15.73

16.64

16.75

High

25.46

24.95

23.18

Special

61.78

75.41

61.58

Substances

Elementary

2.14

2.57

2.57

Middle

2.59

2.57

2.39

High

6.50

6.22

6.05

Special

26.77

24.66

27.80

Vandalism

Elementary

4.96

4.81

4.64

Middle

3.90

4.00

3.77

High

5.20

5.73

4.89

Special

15.88

17.99

10.97

Violence

Elementary

8.45

8.30

9.52

Middle

13.22

13.57

14.16

High

14.38

13.95

13.21

Special

44.54

50.17

47.77

Weapons

Elementary

3.26

2.98

2.77

Middle

2.85

3.16

3.22

High

2.31

2.20

1.94

Special

15.65

16.45

7.43

Two different statistical methods were used based on the two types of outcomes. For calculating probability of incidents and significance testing with binary (“any” versus “none”) outcomes, the statistical method of choice is logistic regression.  For count data of the type observed among schools reporting incidents9, the preferred method for estimating the expected value (i.e. “average” or “most likely”) is negative binomial regression.

Given the fact that the likelihood of one or more incidents occurring and the average number of incidents is related to the number of students enrolled, the school’s student population was included into the statistical measures as an “exposure” variable10 (i.e. more students, more likely to have incidents, and more of them) and converted to yield a rate per thousand (the standard in epidemiology).  Additionally, the highly variable nature of the data was accounted for in the statistical model by treating each school as a random element with unknown correlation with other schools, and correlated with itself over time11.  This is the appropriate method when analyzing data that is not from an experimental design with random assignment to conditions, and ensures that any findings of significance are not due to correlations within the data but rather due to a proper estimation of random probabilities while accounting for these correlations. Thus, this method increases the precision of estimates and the accuracy of tests of significance for year-to-year differences and trends.

Results for each measurement type (probability or count) are presented in separate tables (below).  Results are reported for the major categories of: substances, vandalism, violence, and weapons, and for any violence or vandalism incidents.  Within each data category three types of results are presented: the incident probability or rate per thousand students per year12, statistical tests of the differences in these probabilities from year to year (2004-05 to 2005-06 and 2005-06 to 2006-07), and the overall three year linear trend (slope) of these probabilities.  Given the significant differences in the distribution of the likelihood (probability) of the occurrence of one or more incidents and/or incident counts by school configuration within each of these categories, results are reported by type of school (elementary, middle, high, and special services).

Table F.3 reports the predicted likelihood (i.e. proportion or percentage of the population) of reporting one or more incidents by major incident category by school type by year.  Table F.4 reports the predicted (i.e. “average” or “most likely”) incident rate for the population of students in schools reporting incidents by major incident category by school type by year13. This report cites statistically significant differences using the accepted significance standard of less than a five percent random probability (i.e. “Pr>F” is less than 0.05). 

______________________
9
Commonly referred to in statistics as overdispersion, this refers to the fact that the variability of counts by school is higher than would be assumed given the standard (or Poisson) model, which has the distributional assumption that the variance grows proportionately with the mean.  In this case, a model using a negative binomial distribution (which relaxes the assumption of the variance equaling the mean) will yield estimates that are more precise.

10 Commonly referred to in statistics as an offset.

11 Commonly referred to in statistics as a random coefficients model.  Particularly with observational data (such as here), it is unreasonable to assume a common intercept and slope for modeling trend across observational units (i.e. schools). Consequently, in the analyses reported here each school is allowed to have its own intercept and slope so as to account for the random variation of these parameters.

12 Please note that the rate (i.e. expected or average number of incidents per thousand students) is calculated from the pool of schools reporting any incidents in a given year, and thus excludes schools with no reported incidents; therefore, these rates should not be misinterpreted as the “global” incident rate by type across all N.J. schools.

13 Due the limited number of elementary schools reporting incidents and/or the sparsity of incidents per elementary school, valid and robust significance calculations of substance abuse and weapon incident rates could not be made.

Table F.3:  Probability of Any Incidents per Thousand Students by Major Incident
Category by School Type by Year with Year to Year and Linear Trend Tests
(Random Coefficients Logistic Regression)

Major
Category

School
Type

Est Prob Per Thousand

Comparison 04-05 to 05-06

Comparison 05-06 to 06-07

Linear Trend 04-05 to 06-07

04-05

05-06

06-07

Diff

F Value

Pr > F

Diff

F Value

Pr > F

Avg Chg

F Value

Pr > F

Any Violence or Vandalism

Elem.

0.650

0.670

0.659

0.020

1.38

0.2400

-0.011

0.46

0.4991

0.005

0.22

0.6396

Middle

0.920

0.928

0.937

0.008

0.75

0.3874

0.010

1.19

0.2757

0.009

2.98

0.0850

High

0.966

0.965

0.968

-0.002

0.04

0.8421

0.004

0.25

0.6180

0.001

0.00

0.9513

Special

0.940

0.905

0.915

-0.036

2.40

0.1233

0.011

0.18

0.6740

-0.012

1.91

0.1712

Substances

Elem.

0.011

0.014

0.019

0.004

0.29

0.5886

0.005

0.48

0.4892

0.004

1.51

0.2199

Middle

0.291

0.305

0.288

0.014

0.28

0.5943

-0.016

0.36

0.5482

-0.001

0.00

0.9815

High

0.822

0.835

0.831

0.012

0.31

0.5772

-0.004

0.03

0.8600

0.004

0.14

0.7043

Special

0.687

0.711

0.750

0.024

0.16

0.6934

0.039

0.25

0.6164

0.031

1.06

0.3058

Vandalism

Elem.

0.485

0.476

0.437

-0.009

0.19

0.6663

-0.040

3.70

0.0547

-0.024

5.30

0.0215

Middle

0.628

0.672

0.676

0.044

3.37

0.0667

0.004

0.03

0.8587

0.024

3.88

0.0493

High

0.804

0.829

0.817

0.026

1.26

0.2615

-0.012

0.26

0.6094

0.007

0.24

0.6252

Special

0.832

0.783

0.814

-0.049

0.94

0.3326

0.031

0.32

0.5715

-0.009

0.08

0.7757

Violence

Elem.

0.384

0.419

0.444

0.035

3.07

0.0798

0.025

1.52

0.2180

0.030

8.19

0.0043

Middle

0.837

0.855

0.872

0.018

1.43

0.2313

0.017

1.75

0.1855

0.018

7.49

0.0064

High

0.925

0.922

0.915

-0.004

0.08

0.7766

-0.006

0.19

0.6600

-0.005

1.21

0.2715

Special

0.915

0.835

0.860

-0.080

4.47

0.0361

0.025

0.73

0.3951

-0.027

2.93

0.0906

Weapons

Elem.

0.198

0.217

0.230

0.019

0.94

0.3316

0.013

0.36

0.5509

0.016

3.45

0.0636

Middle

0.548

0.556

0.530

0.007

0.08

0.7814

-0.026

0.96

0.3273

-0.009

0.50

0.4787

High

0.622

0.580

0.583

-0.042

1.54

0.2144

0.003

0.01

0.9332

-0.020

1.34

0.2472

Special

0.761

0.791

0.725

0.030

0.19

0.6669

-0.066

1.08

0.3005

-0.018

0.21

0.6479

 

Table F.4:  Incident Rate per Thousand Students for Schools Reporting Incidents by Major
Incident Category by School Type by Year with Year to Year and Linear Trend Tests
(Random Coefficients Negative Binomial Regression)

Major
Category

School
Type

Est Rate Per Thousand

Comparison 04-05 to 05-06

Comparison 05-06 to 06-07

Linear Trend 04-05 to 06-07

04-05

05-06

06-07

Diff

F Value

Pr > F

Diff

F Value

Pr > F

Avg Chg

F Value

Pr > F

Any Violence or Vandalism

Elem.

6.88

6.71

7.33

-0.17

0.33

0.5685

0.62

3.35

0.0675

0.23

1.67

0.1971

Middle

11.35

12.04

11.93

0.69

2.90

0.0888

-0.11

0.07

0.7909

0.29

0.65

0.4203

High

22.32

21.74

20.65

-0.58

0.81

0.3682

-1.09

3.12

0.0777

-0.83

4.02

0.0457

Special

74.85

85.01

76.84

10.16

0.92

0.3412

-8.17

0.39

0.5333

0.99

0.07

0.7969

Substances

Elem.

2.14

2.57

2.57

0.43

*

*

0.00

*

*

0.22

*

*

Middle

2.60

2.58

2.44

-0.02

0.01

0.9375

-0.14

0.32

0.5755

-0.08

0.47

0.4957

High

5.77

5.55

5.41

-0.22

0.89

0.3472

-0.14

0.29

0.5893

-0.18

0.92

0.3377

Special

33.36

33.85

32.69

0.49

0.00

0.9546

-1.16

0.04

0.8431

-0.34

0.03

0.8674

Vandalism

Elem.

4.83

4.64

4.40

-0.19

0.52

0.4702

-0.24

0.99

0.3215

-0.21

1.58

0.2097

Middle

3.83

3.90

3.70

0.07

0.11

0.7447

-0.21

1.02

0.3140

-0.07

0.23

0.6302

High

4.33

4.72

4.07

0.39

2.01

0.1569

-0.64

6.62

0.0103

-0.13

0.66

0.4165

Special

22.00

25.31

16.46

3.31

0.65

0.4245

-8.85

5.76

0.0224

-2.77

2.96

0.0990

Violence

Elem.

6.33

6.02

7.05

-0.30

0.66

0.4177

1.03

5.04

0.0253

0.36

1.78

0.1836

Middle

9.28

9.36

9.70

0.08

0.04

0.8400

0.33

0.80

0.3711

0.21

0.40

0.5259

High

12.30

11.66

11.41

-0.65

2.72

0.0995

-0.24

0.37

0.5418

-0.44

1.93

0.1653

Special

56.19

64.49

66.41

8.30

0.59

0.4465

1.92

0.02

0.8903

5.11

0.57

0.4577

Weapons

Elem.

0.61

0.47

1.83

-0.15

*

*

1.36

*

*

0.61

*

*

Middle

1.41

1.55

1.50

0.14

0.53

0.4696

-0.05

0.06

0.8120

0.05

0.09

0.7682

High

1.33

1.12

1.06

-0.21

5.84

0.0160

-0.06

0.56

0.4558

-0.13

9.00

0.0029

Special

10.35

13.54

8.56

3.19

0.65

0.4286

-4.98

1.45

0.2399

-0.90

0.04

0.8500

*Significance testing of substance abuse and weapons rates is not reported for elementary schools due to low numbers of schools and/or sparsity of counts per school.