Schools Could Be Designated as Dangerous

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Violence and criminal acts are increasing on Washoe County's middle school campuses.

A school district analysis says that if the incidents continue to grow at the same pace as last year, nearly half of the county's middle schools will have a dangerous designation within two years.

The analysis says O'Brien, Pine, Sparks, Swope and Traner middle schools are headed in that direction. Cannan Elementary School, and Hug and Spanish Springs high schools are on the same pace. Seventy-five percent of criminal incidents at the eight schools involved battery.

Children attending a persistently dangerous public school or who are victims of a violent crime at school can choose to attend another public or charter school, according to the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

No schools in Carson City or Douglas County are on pace to meet the designation, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported on Monday.

A school discipline task force is scheduled this fall to review criminal and non-criminal incidents, how administrators are logging behavior and to outline when it's appropriate for schools to call police.

District staff and school administrators who handle discipline would make up the task force.

"The numbers are what the numbers are,"said Steve Mulvenon, Washoe County schools spokesman."Its a good baseline for us to have and we'll use this data when school discipline task force assembles."

Washoe County school police Lt. Dale Richardson said he is concerned that the state policy could lead to misleading statistics for some schools because only arrests and citations are counted, not criminal acts done by unknown individuals.

Michael Fitzgerald, Nevada Department of Education consultant, said figures from districts are being compiled only to determine how many schools statewide are on track to meet the designation.

"The idea is to intervene and help out,"Fitzgerald said."We don't just want to sit back and count bad schools."