What’s really happening in our schools? Part 1

What's really happening in our schools? (WCSD)
Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 7:09 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Scenes of students fighting in school hallways and buses has been widely circulated on social media and ultimately on our broadcasts. At a time when our schools are under greater scrutiny, they’ve added to the general unease. It’s prompting many to ask, ‘What’s happening in our schools?,’ and leading some to make wild unsupported claims.

What’s the truth? We decided to go to the source. We asked for and received the crime reports from the last year and a half in local high schools and middle schools.

It’s all there. Youthful mistakes and serious, predictive criminal behavior, misdemeanors and felonies.

It took days to analyze and the results were instructive, at times surprising.

None of it, of course, is good news. We send our kids off to school to learn and grow, not deal with this pile of misdeeds and threats. But, if we are honest, there’s nothing there that they and we don’t see every day in the community at large.

So, School District Police Chief Jason Trevino says, look to our community as a whole when seeking causes.

“They are in the larger community the majority of the day. Then they come under our roof and there seems to be a lens shined on our schools and it’s a school district problem. Of course we understand, we understand we’re having an issue in our schools. No one is denying that, but we also understand that we have to address it at the bigger heart of the problem, which is the community as a whole.“

Our education system and our community are still feeling the effects of the pandemic, which isolated our kids along with the rest of us. It interrupted their education, putting them behind socially as well as academically. In their isolation, they turned increasingly to social media, including its most negative corners.

“We’re seeing some of that impact in their behavior. There’s clearly an awful amount of stress in the community, in families, in our schools,” says the district’s Chief Strategy Officer Paul LaMarca. “And I think coping with that stress is a little bit different now than it was pre-pandemic and that has probably led to some of the violence.”

In the days ahead, we’ll look at some of the numbers that tell this story, the impacts of new schools and their newly drawn zones on violence and vandalism, and a surprising fact hidden in the list of felony drug arrests - a narcotic hiding in plain sight in many homes.