Public School Safety

A comprehensive look at the safety of US public schools. Learn what schools are doing to combat gangs and drugs, prepare for natural disasters, and protect your children from predators. From web cameras to armed guards, see what tools public schools are employing to keep kids safe.
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Published November 10, 2012 |
How Schools Plan to Recover from Hurricane Sandy
We’ll look at the many challenges facing schools in New York and New Jersey, as they struggle to get ready for students and balance the ongoing need to provide shelter to those displaced by the storm.
The hurricane that ripped through the Northeast last week has left a trail of destruction that impacts every aspect of the lives of the residents there – including the children. Many students and teachers are left without a school to return to, since the storm ravaged school buildings to the point where they are currently not considered inhabitable. In addition to the challenges of the storm clean-up, schools that are currently being used as shelters will have to find a way to allow students and strangers to live together harmoniously, at least for a short period of time. How are schools recovering from unprecedented Hurricane Sandy? Very slowly, in some areas.

Challenges Facing Schools
 
To understand the many challenges facing schools that were in the path of Hurricane Sandy, the Wall Street Journal went inside the thought process of one of New Jersey’s superintendents. Dr. James A. Crisfield, superintendent of Milburn Township Public Schools, explained to the publication that many factors had to be considered before children could be allowed back into schools, including:
  • Electricity - Many schools are still without power and they cannot reopen until electricity is back on.
  • Gasoline – Gasoline shortages across the region have made it difficult to get sufficient emergency personnel and school buses on the streets. In addition, faculty and administration may not be able to make it to school, due to the shortage.
  • Damage – Water and roof damage have been extensive in some of the hardest-hit areas.
  • Transportation – Many of the school
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Published October 19, 2012 |
Political Attire in Public School: Protected by the Constitution?
After a high school student is publicly humiliated for wearing a t-shirt to school supporting her favorite political candidate, the question of free speech vs. school dress code returns to the spotlight.
Presidential election season is in full swing, and the yard signs, bumper stickers and campaign buttons prove it. Paraphernalia is one way Americans show their support for their favorite candidate, but as one high school student in Philadelphia found out, public support of a candidate doesn’t always go as planned. This student got more than she bargained for when she wore a pink Romney-Ryan t-shirt to school. She was publically humiliated and harassed for her choice – not by fellow students, but by her own teacher.

The Samantha Pawlucy Story
 
Samantha Pawlucy is a sophomore at Charles Carroll High School in the Philadelphia area. Pawlucy decided to wear her Romney-Ryan t-shirt to class on “dress-down” day, when the shirt fit within the parameters of the school dress code. It was a daring thing to do in a community with one Republican for every six Democrats. However, Pawlucy had no idea just how traumatic the response to her attire would be.
 
Pawlucy’s geometry teacher, Lynette Gaymon, called attention to Pawlucy’s shirt during class. According to a report in the Examiner, Gaymon told Pawlucy to remove the shirt. When Pawlucy refused, Gaymon compared the wearing of that shirt to Gaymon coming to school sporting a Klu Klux Klan t-shirt. She explained that Charles Carroll High School was a “democratic” school, and then told Pawlucy to leave her classroom.
 
When Pawlucy refused to leave, Gaymon left the classroom and called in other teachers and students to point out Pawlucy’s shirt. Gaymon encouraged the
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Updated March 03, 2015 |
Arming Public School Teachers with Guns: The Controversial Legislation
Should public school teachers carry guns to keep themselves and students safe? One school district already allows teachers to bring guns on campus, but the issue has triggered heated debate on both sides.
School shootings are tragic occurrences that have become far too common in our culture today by many standards. In light of some of the most recent events involving school shootings in Philadelphia, New Mexico and Colorado, as well as the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012, some state legislators are considering a new approach to the problem: licenses that allow educators to carry concealed weapons onto campus. The first known school district to institute such a policy was the Harrold Independent School District in Harrold, Texas, but numerous other districts have followed suit in recent years, with other districts considering the possibility rather seriously. We'll take a closer look at the issue of guns in school and some of the districts that are thinking about taking matters into their own hands.
Current Laws
 
Laws vary from state to state regarding the criteria for purchasing and carrying a gun. Some states do not require a permit to purchase a handgun or long gun, nor do some states require gun owners to register their firearms. And while some states require a permit to carry a concealed weapon, others require no such permit for concealed or open carry weapons. A number of states including Massachusetts, Arizona, Colorado, Maryland, New Jersey and Connecticut have passed restrictive assault weapons laws in light of the use of such weapons in many of the most recent school shootings. However, even licensed gun holders are prohibited from
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Published December 23, 2010 |
Sex Offenders: Working in Your Local Schools
A shocking new report has revealed that a surprising number of sex offenders are working in public schools. Learn about the report, its revelations, and what can be done to protect your children.
A troubling report by the Government Accountability Office shows that individuals with a history of sexual misconduct are working in some neighborhood schools. In fact, some have been able to land new teaching or staff jobs after behaving inappropriately towards children in other school districts. The report by GAO cites a number of breaks in the system that allow these individuals back into schools, due to incomplete background checks or other administrative loopholes.

The GAO Report
 
The recently released GAO report examined 15 case studies in public schools that employed questionable individuals, according to a report at the Christian Science Monitor. Of these 15 cases, 11 of the teachers or staff members had previously victimized children with inappropriate sexual conduct. In six cases, the individuals went on to abuse children again at their new posts.
 
The report was in part a response to another report released by the Department of Education in 2004, which estimated that millions of students in the public school system are victims of sexual misconduct by school employees between kindergarten and 12th grade. The GAO compared a national database of sexual offenders with employment records in 19 states from 2008 to 2009. The agency also reviewed public records and interviewed officials involved in dozen of sexual misconduct cases from 2000 to 2010.
 
What the Report Found
 
A report in the Washington Post highlighted some of the shocking cases the GAO report found:
 
An Ohio teacher was mandated to resign because he exhibited inappropriate behavior towards his female
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Updated June 17, 2017 |
Gangs, drugs, and guns may be more prevalent on public school campuses than parents think. Learn about the high percentage of public school students who are exposed to these dangers each day – and what parents can do to protect their kids.
When parents send their children to school in the morning, most assume their kids will not be exposed to drugs, alcohol or gang activity on campus. They believe schools are a relatively safe environment, dedicated to the task of teaching children the basic academic disciplines and preparing them for a productive, prosperous adulthood.
 
Unfortunately, new findings suggest that alcohol and drug use, as well as gang activity, may be more prevalent in public schools than parents realize.
 
Concerning Numbers from Recent Survey
 
A recent report by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA) showed potentially disturbing findings. According to the study, as many as one in four middle and high school students have reported the presence of both drugs and gangs on their campuses. An analysis in the Los Angeles Times deduced that approximately 5.7 million students across the country are also more likely to drink, smoke and use drugs than students at private and parochial schools, where drugs and gangs are virtually non-existent.
 
Former U.S. secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, Joseph Califano Jr., is responsible for the study. Califano told WebMD that the prevalence of drugs and gang activity is like a cancer in public schools. Califano adds, "It is just outrageous. It is nothing less than state-sanctioned child abuse to require parents to send their kids to schools where drugs and gangs are present."
 
Califano told the Los Angeles Times that the most disturbing statistic in the study was
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