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Thursday, August 30, 2007

School Violence: Plainfield up sharply in 2005-06 year

The state released its annual school violence and vandalism report for the 20005-06 school year yesterday.

Given the issues -- especially at Plainfield High -- that have filled the papers in the year just past (which will be in NEXT year's report), Plainfield parents and residents will draw no comfort from the report.

Violence in the Plainfield schools for SY2005-06 is reported as 111 incidents, with an increase of 33 incidents over the previous year -- a 30% jump in ONE YEAR.

When vandalism is included, the number of incidents for SY2005-06 is 205, an increase of 65 over the previous year -- or a 32% increase.

The Ledger makes much of the fact that bullying and harassment have increased significantly everywhere, but while that is certainly an issue in Plainfield -- as I hear anecdotally -- the reports in the media concerning Plainfield in the last year have focused on actual assaults, which truly are incidents of violence.

These numbers should be a cause of grave concern to everyone in the community: Taxpayers, parents, teachers, administrators and the Board of Ed. We already know the students are concerned.

Can a grip be gotten on the situation?

Trenton Central and Paterson Eastside were previously listed as 'persistently dangerous' and have improved to the point they have been taken off the list.

If those schools, arguably more violent than Plainfield's can do it, why not Plainfield?

Meanwhile, the mainstream media chose to spin the story in ways that suited them, but leaving Plainfield totally out of the picture.

The Courier touts the improvement at Bound Brook, which got a special look-see after reporting a significant decrease the previous year.

The Ledger touts two schools that improved so much they have been taken off the 'persistently dangerous' list -- Trenton's Central High and Paterson's Eastside High.

The NY Times, ever above the crowd, takes the 50,000-foot view: violence increased 'slightly'.

You can read the state report yourself here.

More --
-- Dan Damon

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