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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, 2005 to June 30, 2006

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

Lucille E. Davy
Commissioner

Prepared by staff of the
Division of Student Services

Barbara Gantwerk
Assistant Commissioner

Susan B. Martz, Director
Office of Educational Support Services

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

August 2007

August 2007

PTM 1506.33


STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION


Table of Contents

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

INTRODUCTION

A. Legislative Charge
B. Purpose of the Report
C. The Reporting System

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. Review of Violence Data of Selected Districts
    Survey Results
    Department Action

PROGAMMATIC RESPONSE

A. Ongoing Program Efforts
B. Response to Findings

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. Safe and Civil Schools: A Social and Emotional Learning Initiative
8. 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program
9. The New Jersey Character Education Initiative
10. New Jersey Center for Character Education
11. Youth Gang Prevention and Intervention Project
12. Peer Transitions Project
13. 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 Public Safety Plan-Delinquency Prevention Subcommittee
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

List of Figures and Tables

Figure 1: Incidents by Major Category
Figure 2: Number of Schools by Range of Incidents
Figure 3: Incidents by School Type
Figure 4: Incidents of Violence by School Type
Figure 5: Assaults by School Type
Figure 6: Fights by School Type
Figure 7: Incidents of Vandalism by School Type
Figure 8: Incidents of Damage to Property by School Type
Figure 9: Incidents of Theft by School Type
Figure 10: Weapons Incidents by School Type
Figure 11: Types of Vandalism Where Districts Incurred Cost
Figure 12: Number of Suspensions by Duration
Figure 13: Placement of Students Removed or Suspended
Figure 14: 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 Actions Taken
Table 6: Offender Type
Table 7: 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. 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 illegal substances

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). In 2005-06, the total number of incidents reported statewide was 18,796, up 643 (or two percent) from 2004-05. Incidents of violence and vandalism accounted for this increase (see Table 1 below).

Table 1: Total Incidents for Major Reporting Categories

 

2004-05

2005-06

Change

% Change

Violence

10,953

11,166

213

2%

Vandalism

3,493

3,809

316

9%

Weapons

1,478

1,430

-48

-3%

Substances

2,725

2,647

-78

-3%

Unduplicated Total

18,409

18,796

387

2%

The tables in this report reflect raw totals and changes from year to year. Table 1 does not account for differences in enrollment in individual schools that can affect the violence totals as well as totals for the other major reporting categories. In an effort to control for changes in the number of students that may affect the totals, the department ran a statistical model that accounts for differences in enrollment within school type, e.g., elementary, middle and high school and reports estimates in terms of rate per 1,000 students. This statistical model indicated no statistically significant differences statewide from year to year (2004-05 to 2005-06) overall and within school type in the unduplicated total number of incidents. Additionally, there were no significant differences from year to year overall and within school type in the total number reported in the major reporting categories of violence, vandalism, weapons and substance abuse.

Within the violence category, the most notable changes were led by a 24 percent increase in the number of incidents of harassment/intimidation/bullying, an 11 percent increase in threats, a six percent decline in fights, and a five percent increase in simple assaults. Within vandalism, there was a 14 percent increase in theft and a five percent increase in damage to property. While there was a small increase of firearms possession (from seven to twelve incidents), incidents of other weapons possession declined (eight percent) as did incidents of possession of substances, i.e., alcohol and other drugs (11 percent). See Table 2.

Consistent with previous years’ data, seven schools in ten (70 percent) reported five or fewer total incidents in 2005-06, with 916 schools (37 percent) reporting no incidents at all. See Figure 2 . The reported locations of incidents also mirrored those of prior years, with 31 percent taking place in the classroom, 19 percent in the school corridor, and 18 percent in other locations inside the school. The police were notified in 40 percent of the incidents reported, the same percentage reported in the 2004-05 school year. See Table 4.

General education students constituted 71 percent of offenders and students with disabilities 28 percent. These percentages were fundamentally the same as in previous years. The number of victims reported and the percentage of victims who were general education students (58 percent), students with disabilities (18 percent) and staff (22 percent) remained essentially unchanged from 2004-05. See Table 7.

Although the data indicate that incidents of serious violence periodically occur in schools, they are infrequent. The department supports a comprehensive, coordinated and systematic approach to prevent problem student behaviors and promote student well-being and success by implementing researched-based strategies. The department continues to develop policies, design programs, collect and analyze data, disseminate publications and materials, provide professional development and technical support and maintain 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 supporting services for staff, students and their families; and preventing, intervening and recovering from emergency crises. These efforts are discussed in the Programmatic Response section of this report, with detailed descriptions provided in Appendix C.

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 a problem long recognized by the State Legislature: violence and vandalism in the schools. The law stipulated 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 in the following categories: violence, vandalism, weapons and substance abuse. An analysis of trends yields indications of progress and of 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. The report contains an increased number of hyperlinks through which the readers may find more detail regarding findings and the department’s programmatic response.

The Reporting System

Districts have reported incidents online since the 1999-2000 school year.1 The Electronic Violence and Vandalism Reporting System (EVVRS), http://homeroom.state.nj.us, is used by districts to report information electronically about individual incidents, including offender and victim information. To assist districts in deciding what to report and how to report it, the department includes a User Manual, Incident Definitions, and Incident Scenarios on the EVVRS homepage. The definitions and scenarios were developed with input from the Criminal Justice Division of the Department of Law and Public Safety to promote consistency and reduce errors in reporting. The scenarios describe those types of incidents that invite discrete differences in interpretation within the context in which they occur and provide factors to consider in selecting the correct incident category.

The data entered on the EVVRS and verified by districts form the basis of the findings section of this report to the State Legislature and of the reports to the federal education department on the Gun-Free Schools Act and the Unsafe School Choice Option policy requirement. EVVRS reports can be used by districts to uncover important trends in their incident data.

In January 2007, the department opened a Web-site through which the public may view violence and vandalism data for any district. The data on the Web-site include district- and state- level trends as well as summary information on the types of incidents reported for every district and school, beginning with the 2002-03 reporting year. Data are made accessible to the public at the end of the school year after every district has informed the department that it has verified the data contained in its Annual District Report of Violence and Vandalism. The address of these archived data is http://www.state.nj.us/njded/schools/vandv/index.html.

Through the support of a federal grant, the department embarked on a project to improve the management of violence and drug abuse prevention data. The grant funds financed the opening of a public access Web-site for violence and vandalism data, county forums on the better use of data, and improvements to the data portion of the electronic district No Child Left Behind application. The grant is also helping the department to develop, in conjunction with the New Jersey Network (NJN), an in-service training program on a DVD that uses "live scenarios" to dramatize the more difficult-to-classify incidents.2 Used in a district or school in-service setting, the video program will increase school district staff awareness of their responsibilities to report serious student misconduct and will assist them in deciding how to report such misconduct on the EVVRS. The department plans to distribute the DVD to all districts, public schools, charter schools and private schools for the disabled.

__________

1 For a description of changes to the reporting system pre-dating the Internet-based system, see the report for the school year 2000-2001, available at http://www.state.nj.us/njded/atoz.htm#V .  The 2003-04 and 2004-05 reports contain descriptions of changes to the EVVRS made to accommodate the Unsafe School Choice Option policy required in Title IV-A of the No Child Left Behind Act.

2 Funds from the federal grant were used to contract with the Bloustein Center for Survey Research of Rutgers University to survey districts regarding EVVRS reporting.  Their report identified the types of incidents that posed the most difficulty for districts in deciding what to report to the state, and thus has informed the coverage of the DVD program.

Findings

A. Incident Frequency by Major Category

The unduplicated total number of incidents reported in 2005-06 was 18,796, an increase of two percent from the 18,409 total reported in 2004-05. Figure 1 displays the unduplicated count of incidents by each of the four major reporting categories. It shows a noticeable drop in violence from 2003-04 to 2004-05 followed by a small increase over the past year (2004-05 to 2005-06) in both violence and vandalism. There was a slight decrease in weapons incidents over the three-year period from 2003-04 to 2005-06 and no change in substance incidents over the same period.

Figure 1: Incidents by Major Category

Figure 1: Incidents by Major Category

Figure 1 reflects raw totals and does not account for differences in enrollment in individual schools that can affect the violence totals as well as totals for the other major reporting categories. In an effort to control for changes in the number of students that may affect the totals, the department ran a statistical model that accounts for differences in enrollment within school type, e.g., elementary, middle and high school and reports estimates in terms of rate per 1,000 students. The analysis indicated no statistically significant differences statewide from year to year (2004-05 to 2005-06) overall and within school type in the unduplicated total number of incidents. Additionally, there were no significant differences from year to year overall and within school type in the total number reported in the major reporting categories.

B. Incident Frequency by Type within Major Category 3

Some one-year changes in types of incidents can be seen in the Table 2.

Violence: There was a decline in the number of fights and gang/group fights, but an increase in the number of assaults, threats and incidents of harassment/intimidation/ bullying.

Vandalism: Increases in theft and damage to property are evident.

Weapons: Increases in firearms offenses (handguns) and declines in other weapons and bomb offenses were reported.

Substances: Use of substances did not change (yet still accounts for most of the reported incidents under the Substance Abuse category), while possession declined slightly. See Appendix D for details on the types of weapons and substances used in incidents.

The incident detail in Table 2 and trends in the data for schools, districts and the state for the past four years may be found at http://www.state.nj.us/education/schools/vandv/index.html.

__________

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. 

Table 2: Incidents by Type

 

2004-2005

2005-06

Change

Incident Type

# of Incidents

# of Incidents

# of Incidents

%

Violence              
Simple Assault    

3,219

 

3,390

171

5%

Aggravated Assault    

244

 

235

-9

-4%

Fight    

4,766

 

4,464

-302

-6%

Gang Fight    

103

 

63

-40

-39%

Robbery/Extortion    

42

 

63

21

50%

Sex Offense    

199

 

161

-38

-19%

Threat    

1,292

 

1,430

138

11%

Terroristic Threat    

179

 

195

16

9%

Harassment/ Intimidation/Bullying    

1,134

 

1,409

275

24%

Vandalism              
Arson    

121

 

111

-10

-8%

Bomb Threat1    

127

 

136

9

7%

Burglary    

116

 

113

-3

-3%

Damage to Property    

1,694

 

1787

93

5%

Fireworks    

73

 

90

17

23%

Theft    

1,387

 

1584

197

14%

Trespassing    

163

 

178

15

9%

Weapons              
Firearm2    

7

 

12

5

71%

Other Weapon    

1,434

 

1,317

-117

-8%

Bomb Offense    

7

 

1

-6

-86%

Substances              
Use    

1,993

 

1,999

6

0%

Possession    

809

 

723

-86

-11%

Distribution

81

71

-10

-12%

1. Includes two fake bomb incidents for both years.
2. Firearm incidents include handgun and rifle incidents only. Air guns and imitation guns are classified as "Other Weapons."

C. Incident Location, Police Notification and Bias

Overall, slightly more than three in four incidents (76 percent) occurred inside the school building in both 2004-05 and 2005-06; approximately three incidents in ten occurred in the classroom. The missing data for 2004-05 reflects the optional status of this field on the EVVRS data base; it became a required field in 2005-06. See Table 3.

Table 3: Location of Incidents  

 

2004-05

2005-06

Location

# of Incidents

% of Total

# of Incidents

% of Total

Cafeteria

1,467

9%

1,589

8%

Classroom

4,869

29%

5,737

31%

Corridor

3,480

21%

3,579

19%

Other inside school

2,948

18%

3,368

18%

School grounds

1,894

11%

2,097

11%

Bus

655

4%

675

4%

Building exterior

386

2%

466

2%

Other outside

1,016

6%

1,285

7%

Total

16,715

100%

18,796

100%

Missing

1,694

     

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

__________

4 A complaint may be filed by the school district, the police or a parent.

Table 4: Police Notification

 

2004-05

2005-06

 

# of Incidents

% of Total

# of Incidents

% of Total

None

11,079

60%

11,349

60%

Notified, no complaint

3,647

20%

3,559

19%

Notified, complaint filed

3,675

20%

3,888

21%

Total

18,401

100%

18,796

100%

Missing

8

     

Districts reported 188 incidents of bias in the 2005-06 school year, an increase of 15 percent from the 2004-05 total of 164.

D. Results by Range of Incidents and School Type5

In 2005-06, three schools in eight (37 percent) reported no incidents. When this group that reported no incidents is included in the statewide analysis, seven schools in ten (70 percent) reported five or fewer incidents. At the other end of the continuum, nine percent of schools reported 25 or more incidents. The distribution evident in Figure 2 is typical, based on prior years’ data.

This year’s report looks at patterns of incidents reported by school type (elementary, middle and high school) in greater depth than in previous years’ reports. It examines the overall distribution of incidents, the distribution by the four major reporting categories and by frequently reported incident types, (i.e., fight and assault within violence, and theft and damage to property within vandalism). This analysis has been prepared to help districts and schools review their results within the context of state-level data, and to assist the department in its efforts to target assistance and program development where differences by school type are evident.

Figure 2: Number of Schools by Range of Incidents

Figure 2: Number of Schools by Range of Incidents

Figure 3 shows that more than half of all incidents reported in 2005-06 (56 percent) occurred in high schools with nearly one third (31 percent) occurring in middle schools. The distribution of incidents across types of schools is consistent with prior years’ data.

Figure 3: Incidents by School Type

Figure 3: Incidents by School Type

__________

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 3. 

Violence: In 2005-06, roughly half of the incidents of violence occurred in high schools (51 percent). Middle schools reported a higher percentage of incidents of violence (41 percent in 2005-06) than they did total incidents (31 percent in 2005-06).

Figure 4: Incidents of Violence by School Type

Figure 4: Incidents of Violence by School Type

Both assaults (Figure 5) and fights (Figure 6) occur most frequently in high schools. The number of both types of incidents remained relatively stable over the past two years in both middle and high schools.

Figure 5: Assaults by School Type

Figure 5: Assaults by School Type

Figure 6: Fights by School Type

Figure 6: Fights by School Type

Vandalism: The majority of vandalism incidents occurred in high schools (55 percent in 2005-06); the distribution of incidents by type of school has not changed significantly over the past three years.

Figure 7: Incidents of Vandalism by School Type

Figure 7: Incidents of Vandalism by School Type

Within the vandalism category, however, incidents of damage to property and theft show different distributions across school type. In 2005-06, for example, the differences in the percentage of incidents of damage to property reported by school type are not large: elementary schools reported 26 percent of incidents of damage to property, middle schools 34 percent and high schools 40 percent (see Figure 8). In contrast, the percentage distribution across elementary, middle and high schools for theft shows that the vast majority of thefts (73 percent in 2005-06) occur in high schools (see Figure 9).

Figure 8: Incidents of Damage to Property by School Type

Figure 8: Incidents of Damage to Property by School Type

 

Figure 9: Incidents of Theft by School Type

Figure 9: Incidents of Theft by School Type

Weapons: In 2005-06, for the first time in the past three years, more weapons incidents occurred in middle schools (47 percent) than high schools (43 percent). See Figure 10.

Figure 10: Weapons Incidents by School Type

Figure 10: Weapons Incidents by School Type

Substances: Less than one percent of the nearly 8,000 incidents involving substances that have been reported over the past three years occurred in elementary schools; 11 percent occurred in middle schools and 89 percent in high schools. This general pattern has held for each of the past three years.

E. Cost of Vandalism

The total cost of vandalism to all districts was $689,158, a 34 percent increase from the cost of vandalism in 2004-05. Districts reported an unduplicated total of 1,028 incidents of vandalism in which they incurred cost, a marginal increase from the 1,003 reported in 2004-05. Similar to prior years, property damage (71 percent) and theft (22 percent) accounted for most of the incidents resulting in cost to districts in 2005-06 (see Figure 11). As multiple types of vandalism were involved in a few incidents, the total by type of vandalism in Figure 11 exceeds the total of incidents of 1,028.

Figure 11: Types of Vandalism Where Districts Incurred Cost

Figure 11: Types of Vandalism Where Districts Incurred Cost

F. Disciplinary Actions Taken

The distribution across types of disciplinary actions changed very little in 2005-06. Out-of-school suspension remains the dominant choice for disciplinary action (see Table 5). The number of expulsions reported (46) as an action taken in response to an incident reported on the EVVRS is the lowest since 2001-02 (41).

Table 5: Disciplinary Actions Taken

 

2004-05

2005-06

Disciplinary Action

# of Incidents Reported

% of Total

# of Incidents Reported

% of Total

Expulsion

61

0%

46

0%

Removal to Alternative Program

357

2%

404

2%

In-School Suspension

1,055

5%

1,200

6%

Out-of-School Suspension

18,953

90%

18,945

89%

Other

620

3%

725

3%

Total

21,046

100%

21,320

100%

Slightly fewer than half of the out-of-school suspensions (47 percent, an increase from 43 percent in 2004-05) were for less than five days; 21 percent were for 10 days or more (see Figure 12). As was the case in 2004-05, the most frequently issued single suspension was that of five days – used in 4,999 cases (24 percent).

Figure 12: Number of Suspensions by Duration

* Includes 144 suspensions of greater than 10 days duration

Figure 12: Number of Suspensions by Duration

Figure 13 displays the types of alternative placements selected by districts when students were removed (or, in some cases, suspended) from school for disciplinary reasons. The total number of removals (1,232) represents a 12 percent increase from 2004-05, with a 23% increase in the use of Home Instruction (from 395 in 2004-05) accounting for the largest portion of the overall increase. Over the past four years, there has been a gradual shift away from the use of in-district programs and toward the use of home instruction and out-of-district programs.

Figure 13: Placement of Students Removed or Suspended

Figure 13: Placement of Students Removed or Suspended

G. Offenders and Victims

In 2005-06, general education students constituted 71 percent of the offenders in the 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. See Table 6.

__________

6 In many cases of vandalism, particularly those of theft and damage to property, the offender is unknown to the district.  In 1,782 cases (8% of all offenders) in 2005-2006, the offender was reported as unknown.

Table 6: Offender Type

 

2004-2005

2005-06

 

# of Offenders

% of Total

# of Offenders

% of Total

General Education Student

13,952

72%

13,825

71%

Student with Disability

5,262

27%

5,488

28%

Student from Other District, Non-Student

105

1%

95

0%

Total

19,319

100%

19,408

99%*

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

The percentage of victims who were general education students increased slightly in 2005-06, but they constituted a smaller percentage of victims in 2005-06 (59 percent) than in 2003-04 (61 percent) and 2002-03 (64 percent ) – neither shown. The data in Table 7 show no change in the percentage of students with disabilities who were victims and only a slight change in the number of school staff (includes contracted staff) who were victims of an offense of any kind. The highest number of staff reported on the EVVRS as victims (1,923) occurred in 2001-02.

Table 7: Victim Type

 

2004-2005

2005-06

  # of Victims % of Total # of Victims % of Total
General Education Student 4,409 57% 4,782 59%
Student with Disability 1,369 18% 1,471 18%
Student from Other District, Non-Student 162 2% 32 0%
School Staff 1,739 23% 1,752 22%
Total 7,679 100% 8,037 100%

Not all of the incidents in which staff were victims were assaults; less than half (41 percent) involved either assaults or fights. Nearly half (47 percent) involved threats or harassment/intimidation/bullying. The total number of incidents included in Figure 14 exceeds the count of staff victims due to the possible occurrence of more than one type of offense, e.g., threat, assault, recorded for a given incident.

Figure 14: Types of Incidents where Staff was Victim

Figure 14: Types of Incidents where Staff was Victim

H. Analysis of Data on Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying

The 2005-06 school year was the third year during which school districts were required to report on the EVVRS 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. Only incidents that meet these criteria are to be reported.

A total of 1,409 incidents of harassment/intimidation/bullying were reported in 2005-06, an increase of 275 incidents (24 percent) from the 1,134 reported in 2004-05. As in the previous two years, some of these incidents occurred in conjunction with other incidents: assault (65), fight (16), threat (76), sex offense (10), theft (7) and damage to property (5). Approximately half of the incidents (48 percent) were reported by middle schools, two-in-five (40 percent) by high schools, one-in-ten (11 percent) by elementary schools, and one percent in other schools, (e.g. schools in special services school districts or educational service commissions).

I. Data Summary

Last year, this report noted a decline in the total number of incidents in 2004-05 from the unduplicated total of 22,186 reported in 2002-03 and 20,207 reported in 2003-04. The two percent increase to 18,796 incidents from the 18,409 reported in 2004-05 represents a modest reversal of the decline,7 nine percent from 2002-2003 to 2003-2004 and nine percent from 2003-2004 to 2004-2005. The number of incidents remains lower than the totals reported in 2003-2004.

Most incidents (56 percent) were reported by high schools. High schools reported slightly over half of incidents of violence (51 percent) and vandalism (55 percent) but the preponderance of incidents of theft (73 percent). Middle schools reported more weapons incidents (47 percent) than high schools (43 percent) and nearly an equal number of incidents of damage to property (34 percent) as did high schools (40 percent). One incident in four of damage to property was reported by elementary schools. The vast majority of incidents of substance abuse over the past three years (89 percent) were reported by high schools.

Other findings of note:

  • Three incidents in four (76 percent) occurred inside the school building, with three in ten (31 percent) occurring in the classroom.
  • Incidents of theft increased by 14 percent;
  • A larger percentage of students with disabilities were offenders (28 percent) than their percentage of the student population (17 percent) would indicate;
  • There continued to be a high number of staff reported as incident victims, although less than half of the incidents involved either assaults or fights;
  • A five-day out-of-school suspension continued to be the most frequently used disciplinary action;
  • The reported number of incidents of harassment/intimidation/bullying exceeded 1,400.

__________

7 As reported last year, the decline was largely attributable to large decreases in the number of incidents reported in 51 districts between 2002-03 and 2004-05.  The department is in the process of monitoring 2005-06 discipline records of a subset of the nineteen districts that exhibited the steepest declines over the period. 

J. Review of Violence Data of Selected Districts

Last year, the department surveyed 19 school districts8 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 that the number of incidents reported in each category was consistent with the district’s written records;
  • verify that the categorization of incidents was correct based on the NJDOE’s incident definitions under EVVRS;
  • review all incident reports, including reports to law enforcement officials, to ensure that all incidents were reported;
  • interview staff, as appropriate, to determine that reporting requirements are being followed district-wide; and,
  • explain the reasons for the decline.

__________

8 Atlantic City, Atlantic County Special Services  School District, Bound Brook Borough, Burlington County Special Services, Camden City, Cape May County Special Services, Dover Town, Englewood City, Gloucester Township, Hillside Township, Jersey City, Paterson, Southern Regional, Toms River Regional,  Trenton, Union City, Vineland City, Liberty Academy Charter School, and Schomburg Charter School.

Survey Results

All 19 school districts responded. As a result of the district’s self review, two districts identified errors in the 2004-05 violence data they had originally submitted and verified, and submitted corrections to the department. One district increased the number of incidents of violence reported in 2004-05 from 30 to 37 based on its review; the other increased from 21 to 32. The majority of the 19 districts attributed the decline to a multiplicity of responses to the problem rather than one action or program. The five categories of responses below describe the range of actions taken by districts in order to reduce the level of violence in their schools or more accurately report to DOE.

Alignment of Local Reporting Standards with Criteria in Incident Definitions: After reviewing the incident definitions and scenarios, the central administration of nine of the school districts took one or more of the following steps to correct reporting errors:

  • Differentiating between the types of misconduct that should be reported on the EVVRS as an incident of violence or vandalism versus those that should be reported only locally;
  • Limiting reporting to only those incidents that meet the criteria specified in the definitions;
  • Distinguishing between those incidents that would be reported as incidents and those (for a student with disabilities) to be reported as an "Other Suspension" on the EVVRS; and
  • Distributing the scenario-enhanced definitions and providing training to school staff.

Administrative Responses: Nine school districts took different kinds of administrative actions both to reduce the level of violence in their schools and to ensure the accurate reporting of incidents, including:

  • Creating an administrative team concept with a focus on violence prevention and review of incident reports;
  • Using technology, including cameras on school busses and in school buildings, a security radio communication system, a metal detection inspection program and X-Ray monitoring equipment;
  • Adding, removing or re-assigning/redeploying administrative staff;
  • Increasing the number or presence of school security staff;
  • Providing in-service training on the early recognition of troubled students; and
  • Modifying lunchroom and class change procedures.

Enhanced Linkages and Communication with the Community: Six school districts reported enhancing linkages within the school community and/or between the school and the larger community through one or more of the following:

  • Reaching out to the community by creating a School Parent Advisory Council,
  • Working more closely with law enforcement;
  • Fostering greater teacher/student/parent communication;
  • Establishing a "collaborative" with membership from local, county, state and federal agencies concerned with juvenile justice issues; and
  • Establishing a multi-cultural task force that assists the school in calming students in an effort to prevent acts of violence that had occurred in the community from continuing in the school.

Curricular and Programmatic Responses: Fourteen school districts reported addressing their problems of school violence by implementing curriculum, non-curricular programs and additional student support services, such as:

  • Instituting school counseling programs addressing issues such as conflict resolution, anger management, and bullying and harassment, and involving student assistance counselors in enhanced supportive services;
  • Implementing anti-violence and positive student development programs such as Second Step: A Violence Prevention Curriculum, Social Decision Making and Problem Solving, Peer Mediation, Life Skills-Bullying Prevention, Peace and Respect Initiative, Character Education, Positive Behavior Support Program, Behavior Management, a new pilot program by D.A.R.E officers, and revisions to the core curriculum to include character education;
  • Training for health teachers in new anti-violence curricula;
  • Special activities such as Random Acts of Kindness Month, motivational speakers, and bookmarks, ribbons and pencils promoting anti-bullying and anger management; and
  • The adoption of in-school suspension as a disciplinary alternative.

Student Population Changes: Two districts cited changes in the student population that facilitated the decrease in incidents such as:

  • Students who were the source of the high level of violence in earlier years left the district;
  • Students began resisting the pressure of gang members to join; and
  • Some students refocused their efforts on obtaining a high school education rather than recruiting gang members or acting against others in the school.

Department Action

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 student was disciplined. Department staff visited eight schools in five of the 19 districts to review documentation and interview school and district personnel. A letter of findings was sent to the chief school administrator of each of the five districts in July 2007.

Additionally, the department included indicators in the New Jersey Quality Single Accountability Continuum – District Performance Review that verifies that districts collect and analyze data on incidents of violence, vandalism and substance abuse; report incidents on the EVVRS; annually verify the accuracy of the data; annually report the data to the board of education and hold a public hearing; develop and submit a corrective action plan for high incidence upon notification by the Commissioner of Education and adopt and implement procedures when it is believed a school employee has knowingly falsified the annual report. By this action, the department has systematized oversight of district violence and vandalism reporting.

PROGAMMATIC RESPONSE

A. Ongoing Program Efforts

New Jersey’s schools continue to be fundamentally safe places, despite perceptions cultivated by terrible tragedies that have occurred in our nation’s schools, including Littleton, Colorado in 1999 and Virginia Tech University in 2007, as well as the threat to our homeland security with the events of September 11, 2001. 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 those social skills which 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 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 deal with challenging situations. The department’s 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 educational circumstances include:

  • 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 Administrative Code, Chapter 16, Programs to Support Student Development (http://www.state.nj.us/njded/code/current/title6a/chap16.pdf), includes rules on 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; public hearings on school violence and vandalism); parameters for codes of student conduct and sanctions and due process of law for violations of the code; criteria for building-based systems of intervention and referral services and 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 No Child Left Behind.

  • · Data Collection: The department collects data on student conduct and risk taking behavior through the EVVRS, the School Report Card, the New Jersey Student Health Survey and the School Safety and Security Checklist Audits. A federal prevention data grant enabled the department to improve the violence and vandalism reporting system.

  • · Publications and Materials: The department routinely produces resource materials that provide districts with guidance in creating safe and disciplined school environments, including: a Resource Manual for Intervention and Referral Services; School Safety and Security Manual: Best Practices Guidelines; Model Policy Prohibiting Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying; Memorandum of Agreement between Education and Law Enforcement and public access to EVVRS Data.

2. 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 Project; Positive Student Discipline Reform Demonstration Project; Social Norms Project; Developing Safe and Civil Schools: A Social and Emotional Learning Initiative; and Peer Transition 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 further prevent at-risk and violent 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 that will encourage positive social skills and behavior.

3. Collaboration, Professional Development and Technical Support

  • Collaboration: The department collaborates with a diverse array of agencies and organizations, including state agencies, the Domestic Security Preparedness Task Force; Governor’s Crime Plan-Delinquency Prevention Subcommittee; Governor’s School Security Task Force; the Attorney General’s Education-Law Enforcement Working Group; child welfare agencies; mental health agencies; student support staff professional associations and institutions of higher education to address violence related problems and initiatives.

  • Professional Development and Technical Assistance: The department provides professional development and technical assistance in school safety and security, reduction of harassment, intimidation and bullying, and student conduct. The department also provides support specific to meeting requirements of regulations on Programs to Support Student Development (N.J.A.C. 6A:16), the EVVRS, the Intervention and Referral Services Initiative; the Unsafe School Choice Option Policy; and funding under Title IV-A and USCO Training and Technical Assistance Project, Positive Student Discipline Reform Demonstration Project; and the Social Norms Project.

B. Response to Findings

The department plans to continue and expand its most recent efforts (See Appendix C) to address school violence. The following new 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 general education by developing regulations, disseminating supportive materials and providing annual I&RS team training and technical assistance. The building-based I&RS teams, comprised of educators, support services personnel and administrators, provide school staff with assistance in addressing challenges that they are experiencing with student behavior, health and learning. The department will further enhance these efforts by implementing the following:

  • Data Collection Project - The department intends to collect 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.

  • Technical Assistance Project – The department intends to implement 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, Intervention and Referral Services and the department’s best practices model in support of N.J.A.C. 6A:16-8.

  • 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 available to I&RS team members.

2. 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 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 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 long-term, comprehensive statewide HIB prevention and intervention initiative. The initiative will be designed to identify core issues, coordinate existing statewide efforts and fill service gaps in an ongoing effort to improve the educational experiences of students and enhance school safety.

3. Implementation of Evidence-based Strategies: Through its collaboration with other institutions, the department has supported the implementation of evidence-based strategies through a series of pilot projects as 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 Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Initiative – This initiative will be expanded to include more school districts and strengthen the system of mentors available to support New Jersey school staff in applying the findings from the SEL research literature. The project is designed to increase coordination and decrease program and service gaps and overlap among SEL-related and other educational initiatives.

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

  • Social Norms Project – This project will be 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 and bullying, harassment and intimidation behavior in participating schools.

4. Random Testing of Alcohol and Controlled Dangerous Substances: Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:40A-25, the New Jersey State Board of Education is considering regulations that would apply only to districts that choose to adopt a policy for the random testing of alcohol and controlled dangerous substances of the district’s students in grades nine through twelve who participate in extracurricular activities or who possess parking permits. These rules implement the Governor’s and Legislature’s desire for establishing parameters for implementing random drug testing as a means to deter drug use and for the early detection of student’s with drug problems so that counseling and rehabilitative services may be offered.

5. 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 $6.9 million dollars were provided to local school districts through the department for this purpose in 2006-2007. The allocation amount represented a 24% reduction in funding provided to school districts under the SDFSCA from the 2005-2006 school year. The department has received level funding in the 2007-2008 school year, which will 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), and new activities, assignments and emergent issues, despite rising costs, reduced fiscal resources, ever increasing demands for assured school safety and security.

6. 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 will:

  • Conduct statewide and regional training for educators and key stakeholders on safety and security issues;

  • Provide technical assistance to educators and other State, county and local officials to ensure the development of plans and procedures to implement the School Safety & Security Manual;

  • Expand the use of its School Security Web-site by adding sections that include frequently asked questions, pandemic and health-related links, regularly updated school safety and security bulletins and on-line requests for technical assistance.

  • Continue to provide schools with emergent best practices and develop and distribute the minimum requirements for school districts’ safety and security plans.

  • Assist local school officials to update their School Safety and Security Audits in the SSSC Data Base, and provide both State and county agencies and schools with access to the SSSC data base system to generate reports for use in state, county and local school safety and security planning.

7. Data Quality: The department will endeavor to improve the quality of data and its use through the development of programs, training and a special data collection:

  • In cooperation with the New Jersey Network (NJN), the department will produce an EVVRS instructional program in DVD format that will contain 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 to which the data are put also will be explained. The DVD will be distributed to all schools and districts in the fall of 2007.

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

  • Training programs will be provided that demonstrate to school district staff how to use the new video program to improve the accuracy of school staff reporting incidents of violence and vandalism.

  • 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. The department will review the chief school administrator’s (CSA) annual reports on student conduct, (including all student suspensions and expulsions), implementation of the code of student conduct and student attendance.

8. Uniform State Memorandum of Agreement: The department, in collaboration with the Attorney General’s Education – Law Enforcement Working Group, is revising the Uniform State Memorandum of Agreement between Education and Law Enforcement Officials (MOA) for dissemination to all school districts for use in the 2007-2008 school year. The revisions include, for the first time, information on school safety and security, harassment, intimidation and bullying, hazing, gang reporting, computer crimes and other current issues of concern.


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

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.

2. 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 resolution by the State Board of Education in June 2003. All local educational agencies must comply with the provisions of the policy, as appropriate.

3. Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying (HIB)

New Jersey statute N.J.S.A. 18A:37-13 et seq. (2002), required the department to develop and issue a model policy on HIB applicable to grades kindergarten through twelve. The department’s model 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.

4. 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.

5. 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 schools to conduct annual public hearings on violence and vandalism, the department has provided guidelines and information to local boards of education for complying with the statute and submitting documentation to the department. The guidelines in effect for the 2006-07 school year can be found at: http://www.state.nj.us/njded/students/safety/violence.htm. N.J.S.A. 18A:17-46 was amended in 2007 to lessen the reporting mandate on districts, but still maintain the requirement. Districts must continue to hold an annual public hearing, and verification remains a part of State monitoring. However, districts are not mandated 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, a transcript of the hearing does not have to be maintained or filed with and reviewed by the department.

6. 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.

2. 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 Spring 2008.

3. 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 data base 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 SSS audits in order to inform the state of how they have enhanced school security or addressed a particular deficiency identified during the previous audit. Local school administrators will be able to update their data during the summer of 2007. The department will continue to analyze 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 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.

2. 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.

3. Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying

To assist school districts in developing and adopting policies prohibiting and stipulating consequences for harassment, intimidation and bullying policies, as mandated under N.J.S.A. 18A:37-13 et seq., the department developed a model policy applicable to grades kindergarten through twelve. Updated in the spring of 2007, the policy may be found at: http://www.state.nj.us/njded/parents/bully.htm.

4. Memorandum of Agreement

The Attorney General and the Commissioner of Education in 1999 issued a revised Uniform State Memorandum of Agreement between Education and Law Enforcement Officials, which includes sections on weapons offenses, bias crimes and sexual harassment. Requirements for the memorandum are set forth in the subchapter of administrative code, Law Enforcement Operations for Substances, Weapons and Safety (N.J.A.C. 6A:16-6). The memorandum, which is reviewed and signed annually by local education and law enforcement officials, forms the basis for sharing information between education and law enforcement representatives and sets parameters for law enforcement investigations. The current model memorandum of agreement can be found at: www.state.nj.us/lps/dcj/pdfs/agree.pdf.

The Attorney General’s Education and Law Enforcement Working Group plans to propose revisions to the memorandum to make it consistent with new statutes and regulations and to clarify and update issues and procedures. The clarifications will address school safety and security, harassment, intimidation and bullying, hazing, gang reporting, computer crimes, School Violence Awareness Week and on child abuse reporting. It is anticipated that the revised MOA will be released in the 2007-2008 school year.

5. 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 2002-2003 through 2005-2006 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 $6.9 million dollars was provided through the department to local school districts for this purpose in 2006-2007. The allocation amount represented a 24% reduction in funding provided under the SDFSCA for the 2005-2006 school year. This funding decrease dramatically reduced the fiscal resources available to schools and the department for responding to school safety and security needs.

2. 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.

The department hired two safety and security planners under the grant and reassigned a state-funded position to 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, the Office of Emergency Management, the Office of Counterterrorism, the State Police, 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.

3. 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.

4. 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 that are designed 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 provided by the department includes 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.

5. 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 is implementing and evaluating 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) is to create safety and order in participating schools without unnecessarily excluding students. The project involves 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 maximize supportive school responses to student concerns and minimize 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 the institutionalization of project initiatives, while VINJ concludes the evaluation of the project. It is anticipated that final project findings will be disseminated to all school districts in the 2007-2008 school year.

6. Social Norms Project

The department is collaborating with the Center for Addiction Studies (CAS) at Rowan University to implement and evaluate a project that uses the social norms approach for (1) reducing the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs among students in ten New Jersey high schools, and (2) reducing bullying, harassment and intimidation behavior among students in eight 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.

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.

7. Safe and Civil Schools: A Social and Emotional Learning Initiative

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) throughout their educational programs.

A primary tenet of the project is that successful performance of students can be enhanced through supportive SEL 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 this project are intended to assist school staff in organizing the various resources, programs and services to create strong SEL 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.

Low-performing non-Abbott school districts are given first opportunity to participate in this initiative. Under the project, working relationships are 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 project findings will be made available to all school districts upon conclusion of the project.

8. 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 45 programs operating in 131 sites and serving approximately 13,000 youth in grades four through twelve. Along with the academic enrichment component, programs are required to infuse character education throughout their program and may also offer a student mentoring component, which research reports indicate helps to reduce participation in gang-related activities. The department believes that quality after-school or out-of-school-time programs can lead to a positive school climate, increase school safety and security and reduce school violence and related problems.

9. The New Jersey Character Education Initiative

New Jersey was the first state in the nation to provide state aid funding to implement character education programs and services. The New Jersey Character Education Partnership (NJCEP) Initiative, a six-year initiative (2000-2006) funded as a part of the Governor’s budget, provided a total of $4.75 million annually to all school districts in the state. The purpose of NJCEP was to provide public school districts with start-up funding to implement validated character education programs to meet the developmental needs of students throughout New Jersey by promoting pro-social student behaviors and creating a caring, disciplined school climate conducive to learning.

In 2006, the national Character Education Partnership (CEP) awarded 16 New Jersey schools with promising practices citations for their outstanding character education programs. Additionally, CEP presented one New Jersey school with the National School of Character Award for demonstrating an outstanding character education program that yielded positive results in student behavior, school climate and academic performance. This national recognition demonstrates the success of the sustained emphasis New Jersey has placed character education.

10. New Jersey Center for 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 will enable the department to fully 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.

11. Youth Gang Prevention and Intervention Project

Under a memorandum of understanding between the department and the Juvenile Justice Commission (JJC), the following gang-related programs and services have been provided during the 2004-2006 school years: delivery of gang prevention and education to students in Newark, Trenton and Camden at high risk for involvement in gang activity, utilizing a curriculum developed in Phase I of the project; production of a VHS videotape program introducing the curriculum and distribution of the program to schools and community organizations; guidance to assist community-based organizations in establishing community "safety nets" for gang-involved youth who are under the jurisdiction of the JJC’s transitional services; development and distribution of gang awareness and resource booklets to schools and community organizations; implementation of regional gang awareness conferences for school personnel, community members and organizations; and delivery of professional development programs on gang issues for JJC staff, county youth services commission staff and members, county juvenile detention center personnel and juvenile peer facilitators.

12. Peer Transitions Project

The project, in part, builds upon the existing network of peer leadership programs in New Jersey that has been established under the New Jersey Middle School Peer-to-Peer Program, which 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 is 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 2006-2007 by adding new schools in the project while maintaining support for schools already participating in the project. Utilizing learning stations, peer educators provide students with information and facilitate discussions on issues (e.g., substance abuse, prevention, gang avoidance, bullying prevention, coping) that will help students make successful transitions to high school. In the final year of the project, materials are being developed to support school staff in the planning, development and implementation of local peer transitions projects. The materials will be disseminated to all school districts and supported by regional workshops to be conducted in the 2007-2008 school year.

13. 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. 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.

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 Office of the Attorney General (OAG) 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 - made recommendations to be considered for implementation in the 2004-05 school year, including the development of a publication titled School Safety and Security Manual: Best Practices Guidelines. The manual was disseminated to all chief school administrators as a secure document in September 2004.

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.

2. 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.

3. Governor’s Public Safety Plan-Delinquency Prevention Subcommittee

The department is assisting in the development of the Governor’s Public Safety Plan by participating on the Delinquency Prevention Subcommittee and the committee at large. This multi-level, multi-agency initiative is identifying mechanisms for prevention, intervention, enforcement and re-entry to help reduce the criminal behavior of youth, including gang-related activities.

4. Collaboration with Mental Health Agencies and Student Support Staff

One of the conclusions to be drawn from the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 and national school tragedies, such as the Littleton, Colorado incident, 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 Developing Safe and Civil Schools: A Social Emotional Learning Initiative, the Unsafe School Choice Option Policy, the Social Norms Project and the Positive Student Discipline Reform Demonstration Project.

5. Collaboration with Child Welfare Agencies

Because the department recognizes that a child’s familial situation directly impacts his/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.

6. Other Collaborative Partnerships

The department aims to continue to collaborate with the following groups: the 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 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 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 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 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.

Training programs were provided on the following topics in 2006-2007: (1) Reviewing the Implementation of 2006/2007 Title IV-A Programming and Preparing for the 2007/2008 Title IV-A Application; (2) Evaluating Title IV-A Program Results; (3) Completing the Title IV-A Application; (4) Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying (HIB) Policies that Work: A Workshop on Updating Your School District’s HIB Policy; (5) Implementing Title IV-A Programs; (6) School Safety Workshop; (7) Program Selection Specialty Workshop; (8) Gang/Bullying Prevention and Intervention Workshop.

2. School Safety and Security

The department’s School Security Unit created a comprehensive training plan, which was implemented in the fall of the 2006. 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. 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 Safe Schools Regional Trainings For School Administrators
  • 2006 Morris County Fall Security Conference
  • The American Red Cross 4th Annual Conference
  • 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
  • LEAP Academy Charter School (School Security In-service)

By the end of 2006, the department conducted 20 training and technical assistance sessions dedicated to school safety and security, serving approximately 1,000 participants.

3. 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. 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 website will be 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. The new web site, which was launched January 2007, can be found at: http://www.nj.gov/njded/schools/security/.

4. 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/.

5. Student Conduct

The department has provided various trainings specifically on the new regulations on student conduct (N.J.A.C. 6A:16-7), re-adopted in September 2006, 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.

6. 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 spring of 2007 at http://www.state.nj.us/njded/parents/bully.htm.

7. Electronic Violence and Vandalism Reporting System (EVVRS)

Regional trainings in the 2005-06 and 2006-07 school years reached approximately 500 school staff with EVVRS reporting responsibilities. Training emphasized new features of the system, the accurate reporting consistent with the published definition of the offenses, the use of the reports module to verify local data on the system, and the public access site for EVVRS data.

8. 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 2006-2007. A supplemental training program titled A Crash Course in the Brain: Using Current Knowledge to Understand Students’ Difficulties and Help Them Succeed. designed specifically for trained I&RS team members was delivered to 60 I&RS team members in 2005-2006. 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 2006-2007 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 planned to be made available to I&RS team members in 2007-2008.

9. Unsafe School Choice Option Policy

Training was 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 schools identified as persistently dangerous or in early warning status in the fulfillment of their obligations under the USCO Policy, including the development and implementation of corrective action plans and 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 corrective action plans and school safety plans to schools identified under the USCO policy.

10. Positive Student Discipline Reform Demonstration Project

Training programs on the following topics were provided in 2006-2007 to schools participating in this project: 1) Positive Behavior Supports; 2) crisis de-escalation skills, Lions-Quest Skills for Adolescence and Skills for Action; and 3) developing behavior skills.

11. Social Norms Project

Training programs on the following topics were provided in 2006-2007 to schools participating in this project: 1) Introductory Training; 2) Marketing Strategies; 3) Data Collection; and 4) Marketing Success and Second Surveys.

12. 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. Additionally, the department provided a workshop on the effective coordination and funds under the No Child Left Behind Act at the annual conference of the New Jersey Association of Federal Program Administrators in the Spring of 2006.


Appendix D: Weapons and Substance Detail

2004-05

2005-06

Change

 

N

%

N

%

N

%

Weapons            
Handgun

7

0.5%

10

0.7%

3

43%

Rifle

0

0.0%

1

0.1%

1

NA

Air Gun

68

4.6%

108

7.4%

40

59%

Imitation Gun

101

6.8%

97

6.6%

-4

-4%

Bomb - Exploded

4

0.3%

0

0.0%

-4

-100%

Bomb - Unexploded

3

0.2%

1

0.1%

-2

-67%

             
Knife

1,095

73.3%

1,052

71.9%

-43

-4%

Pin

45

3.0%

30

2.1%

-15

-33%

Chain

22

1.5%

21

1.4%

-1

-5%

Pepper Spray

12

0.8%

21

1.4%

9

75%

Other

137

9.2%

122

8.3%

-15

-11%

Total Weapons (duplicated*)

1,494

100.0%

1,463

100.0%

-31

-2%

             
Substances            
Alcohol

546

18.8%

537

19.3%

-9

-2%

Marijuana

1,898

65.3%

1,794

64.5%

-104

-5%

Amphetamines

37

1.3%

39

1.4%

2

5%

Party Drug

7

0.2%

12

0.4%

5

71%

Cocaine

109

3.8%

122

4.4%

13

12%

Hallucinogens

10

0.3%

18

0.6%

8

80%

Narcotics

53

1.8%

51

1.8%

-2

-4%

Depressants

41

1.4%

22

0.8%

-19

-46%

Steroids

2

0.1%

0

0.0%

-2

-100%

Prescription Drugs

125

4.3%

110

4.0%

-15

-12%

Inhalants

8

0.3%

4

0.1%

-4

-50%

Drug Paraphernalia

69

2.4%

72

2.6%

3

4%

Total Substances (duplicated*)

2,905

100.0%

2,781

100.0%

-124

-4%

 

   

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


Appendix E: District Totals by County