A new school year (SY 2010-2011) is upon us. Returning to school is a time of excitement for kids as well as parents. Yet, many parents have received notices that their children will attend a school identified as "Persistently Dangerous" by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Rather than joy and excitement these parents and students sometimes have feelings of dread and trepidation. The following Philadelphia Public Schools have been identified as "Persistently Dangerous."
It is important to repeat the criteria used to identify a school as persistently dangerous. The definition includes and involves the frequency of specific violent criminal offenses. A “Violent Criminal Offense" is defined as any of the following offenses that are set forth in Title 18 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes:
· Aggravated Assault (on the student)
· Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse
· Sexual Assault
· Aggravated Indecent Assault
· Indecent Assault
· Attempt to commit any of the following: homicide, murder or voluntary manslaughter.”
Visit the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) website below and type in "persistently dangerous schools" for a more detailed description.
The persistently dangerous school designation is a clarion call for parents to get involved with the school and community. Schools are reflections of the communities in which they are located. Therefore, it is incumbent upon parents to insure the safety of students traveling to and from school as well as inside the building. To accomplish this task, parents and community members can start with their local Block Captains and Town Watch organization. Town Watch Integrated Services (TWIS) can assist community members by providing Safe Corridor training. School administrators and staff can actively involved parents in the development of School Safety Plans. Parents can volunteer in the school and become members of the non-instructional team that addresses issues related to positive climate and discipline. Indeed, they should seek to become members of the school safety team. If a school does not have a School Based Safety Team they should consult with the principal to start a safety team. This team is an excellent vehicle for resolving and solving problems related to safety. All students have a right to receive an education in a safe and orderly building that is conducive to learning. Schools have many programs designed to insure safety but parental support is needed. Parents are encouraged to contact the schools and take advantage of the many safety activities and programs by getting involved. It is a team effort that needs the involvement of parents and community members to achieve success.