March 19, 2007

School crime data in Madison

Posted in Statistics and reporting, Student safety, Student violence at 7:05 pm by madisonparent

“To portray that Madison is ‘safe’ when violent crime is growing is deceptive, and prevents us from getting to real solutions.”

Former Madison mayor Paul Soglin, “Crime in Madison,” Waxing America weblog, March 18, 2007.

How safe are our schools? This question can’t be answered without consistent collection and analysis of information about violent and disruptive incidents in our schools. While the Madison Police Department has just released its Uniform Crime Report for 2006 (the summary of crime statistics that is reported annually to the FBI), there’s no equivalent report for Madison schools. Our state’s Department of Public Instruction collects data for expulsions and suspension, but not for incidents. The Madison Metropolitan School District’s web site simply links to the DPI site. At the individual school level, there may be no system for proactively communicating with parents about incidents affecting safety, or, worse yet, a parent’s school safety questions may languish unanswered.

We can do better. The state of New York’s Safe Schools Against Violence in Education law requires schools to report all violent and disruptive incidents (although, as noted in the previous post, the schools’ degree of cooperation in disclosing the reports could use some improvement); San Antonio, Texas, provides online data on police calls for service, tracked by neighborhood, in addition to incident report and crime data; and the Chicago, Illinois GIS-based online Citizen Law Enforcement Analysis and Reporting system allows online searches for incidents of crime within a specified radius of schools (public and parochial).

What we’ll have to live with, for now, is a patchwork from a variety of sources about incidents in schools that have been reported as having been reported to the police. I’ve collected a list of these below the fold, and will update this list periodically on this site. Those schools and police districts who are forthcoming with their reports are to be commended; they understand that facing up to the problem is the only way to begin work toward a real solution.

Mar. 18 Attempted burglary, Sherman Middle School, resulting in arrests of two 14-year-old and two 13-year-old boys. Source: MPD Press Release #2007-28543.
Mar. 6 Burglary, Cherokee Middle School, resulting in arrests of two 15-year-old boys. Source: MPD Press Release #2007-23585.
Feb. 28 Disorderly conduct, East High School, resulting in arrest of student and removal to Juvenile Reception Center for classroom disturbance and repeated threats to other students. Source: MPD North District Newsletter, February 2007.
Feb. 28 Disorderly conduct, LaFollette High School, resulting in arrest of 14-year-old girl. Source: MPD East District Newsletter, March 2007.
Feb. 28 Disorderly conduct, LaFollette High School, resulting in arrest of 16-year-old and 14-year-old boy. Gang affiliation. Source: MPD East District Newsletter, March 2007.
Feb. 19 Disorderly conduct, East High School, resulting in arrest of two girls for fighting. Source: MPD North District Newsletter, February 2007.
Feb. 15 Violent disruptive behavior by 10-year-old boy, Elvehjem School. Source: MPD East District Newsletter, March 2007.
Feb. 14 Substantial battery, West High School, student’s jaw broken by another student. Source: MPD South District Newsletter, March 2007.
Feb. 14 Harassment of teacher by student (acquaintance of student in 2/13 incident), unnamed middle school, resulting in suspension. Gang affiliation. Source: MTI Newsletter, March 12, 2007.
Feb. 13 Threat against teacher by student, unnamed middle school, resulting in suspension, arrest and restraining order. Gang affiliation. Source: MTI Newsletter, March 12, 2007
Feb. 9 Disorderly conduct, East High School, resulting in arrests of three boys. Source: MPD North District Newsletter, February 2007.
Feb. 8 Punching face of 10-year-old boy by another 10-year-old boy, Lowell School. Gang affiliation. Source: MPD East District Newsletter, March 2007.
Feb. 7 Battery, West High School, resulting in arrest of student of striking student victim in head. Source: MPD South District Newsletter, March 2007.
Feb. 7 Kicking, attempted biting, throwing objects by 10-year-old student (same student from 2/2 incident), Lowell School. Source: MPD East District Newsletter, March 2007.
Feb. 2 Kicking and attempted biting of staff by 10-year-old student, Lowell School. Source: MPD East District Newsletter, March 2007.
Feb. 2 “Pre-fight verbal argument”, LaFollette High School, resulting in school sanctions against four male students. Gang affiliation. Source: MPD East District Newsletter, March 2007.
Feb. 1 Disorderly conduct, East High School (East/LaFollette basketball game), resulting in arrest of LaFollette female student. Source: MPD Press Release #2007-11457.
Jan. 31 Battery, LaFollette High School, resulting in arrest of 17-year-old boy for punching 15-year-old boy. Source: MPD East District Newsletter, February 2007.
Jan. 30 Substantial battery, West High School, student beaten in face by unidentified 17-18 male on school grounds at 1:06 p.m. Source: MPD South District Newsletter February 2007.
Jan. 26 Battery, East High School, resulting in arrest of student for punching another student. Source: MPD North District Newsletter, January 2007.
Jan. 24 Disorderly conduct, East High School, resulting in citing of two students for fighting on school property, and one expelled student for trespassing. Source: MPD North District Newsletter, January 2007.
Jan. 23 Disorderly conduct, Whitehorse Middle School, resulting in arrests of two 12-year-old girls. Source: MPD East District Newsletter, March 2007.
Jan. 19 Weapons violation, Lincoln Elementary School, re: possession of pellet gun by 9-year-old student. Source: MPD South District Newsletter, February 2007.
Jan. 19 Weapons violation, East High School, resulting in citing of student for possession of two knives on school property. Source: MPD North District Newsletter, January 2007.
Jan. 17 Disorderly conduct, LaFollette High School, resulting in charges against two male students for fighting. Source: MPD East District Newsletter, February 2007.
Jan. 11 Arrest of 17-year-old on outstanding warrants for theft, burglary, battery and victim intimidation, LaFollette High School. Source: MPD East District Newsletter, Febuary 2007.
Dec. 8 Students attacked at MSCR social at Jefferson Middle School. Source: The Capital Times, “Facing School Violence,” January 11, 2007.
 

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4 Comments »

  1. Jeff Henriques said,

    Thanks for compiling this information. Do you know if the District has a formal policy defining when the police are supposed to be called or when a report is supposed to be filed. I ask because I have heard reports of selective enforcement where some groups of students get sanctioned for certain behaviors, while other groups do not suffer consequences for the same actions. Likewise, it has occured to some parents that, if you are a school administrator, not reporting incidents is one way to bring down the numbers at your school.

  2. Jeff – thank you for your comment. I would be surprised if there is a formal policy that delineates when the school must call the police and/or file a report. I don’t see such a policy on the MMSD web site, and my impression (based on instances where school administration or staff choose not to involve law enforcement for incidents that clearly involve criminal conduct) is that it is discretionary.

    My child has been telling us about selective enforcement of infractions for quite some time. At my child’s school, those students who know they will not be held accountable for their conduct now openly flout school rules in front of school authorities as a source of entertainment.

    I agree that suspension statistics tell us nothing without the context of actual incidents of misconduct. I hope there will come a point where parents who are being told that their child’s school is safe because ‘suspensions are down’ will begin to ask for more reliable, unspun data. If we don’t acknowledge that we have a problem, we can’t begin to fix it.

  3. Steve said,

    Jeff, I agree this is what I believe the temporary principal at Whitehorse Middle School (Gary Sisler) did when he didnt report the injuries inflicted by Teacher Richard Raith on a female student. The problem is as you put the selective inforcement of the law. It is my belief that teachers are given a free pass to do as they wish. Students are expelled for racial slurs etc. Teachers (Union Teachers) can get away with nearly anything unless dna and a video tape support ALL the student wittnesses statements. This is only my opinion. I am NOT a police officer nor a lawyer. I am only a parrent that feel that the safety of our children is the most important factor to coinsider in our schools. Peace

  4. Big Bill said,

    You wanted diversity. You got it good and hard.


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