School safety data report shows student assaults against school personnel up significantly

09/28/2016 07:22 PM

RICHMOND — Third-degree assaults by students against school teachers, administrators and staff in Kentucky’s K-12 public schools have risen 51.3 percent, according to the recently released Kentucky Center for School Safety 2014-15 School Safety Data Report on Law Violations.

Third-degree assaults rose from a total of 150 during the 2013-14 school year to 227 for 2014-15.

KCSS Executive Director Jon Akers said his updated research shows that the problem has grown significantly and is showing no signs of slowing down.

Akers talked to personnel from the Kentucky Employers Mutual Insurers Group, which handles about 130 school districts’ workers’ compensation claims, and found that from July 2013 through this June, there were more than 2,500 incidents where students attacked teachers.

Where many of those attacks occurred shocked him.

“We found out about 65 to 70 percent of those attacks occurred in the elementary schools, which kind of surprised me. Being a former high school principal, I would have thought that it would have been flip-flopped there,” Akers said. “So there are some issues going on as far as student control is concerned and faulty members being injured.”

The report showed that of the 655,799 students enrolled in Kentucky
public schools, the overwhelming majority of students — 650,253, or 99.2 percent — did not have a reported law violation during the 2014-15 school year. Of the 5,546 students who committed a law violation, only 557, or 10 percent, committed more than one violation.

With a state rate of less than one student per hundred, the commission of law violations is not happening with great frequency in the schools.

Cannabis use and possession is the number one law violation for 2014-15 and accounted for 23.2 percent of all law violations.

Alcohol possession and use was the second most common law violation, coming in at 8.5 percent. Fourth-degree assault was third at 8.1 percent followed by terroristic threatening at 6.1 percent and other weapons at 5.7 percent.

The largest number of law violations occurred among ninth-grade students.

During the 2014-15 school year, 5,545 students committed 6,209 violations.

Akers says that Kentucky’s stats are consistent with the national average.

As for the areas where law violations which have increased, Akers says it reflects on the society where the students who have committed the violations come from.

“They’re societal problems being brought into the school from eight to three o’clock,” Akers said. “Now, those things still happen from three to eight the next day in the communities, so it’s a community issue that’s going on. The violence is out there in the streets, the violence is obviously here in the schools as well.”

On Tuesday, five attorneys sent Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Donna Hargans a letter advocating that metal detectors be placed at all middle and high schools in the district.

In recent weeks, there have been incidents with guns on school property at Noe Middle School, as well as Atherton, Iroquois and Western high schools.

Two years ago, a student was shot inside Fern Creek High School.

Akers says he understands the good intentions with wanting the detectors in the name of school safety, but he doesn’t believe it will be overly effective in keeping someone who wants to bring a gun into a school from doing so.

“Metal detectors keep the honest kids from bringing guns and weapons to school,” Akers said. “Those who want to bring guns to the school can do so through windows, through side doors. So you would need metal detectors at all of those doors and then you would need somebody who’s certified to scan people when they come in with that.”

Akers admits that bullying continues to be a challenge in Kentucky’s schools and is hard to control since much of the bullying today is the result of cyber bullying via computers and smart phones.

In recent years, there has also been talk of arming specific school personnel with weapons to ward off a potential mass shooting situation.

While Akers, once again, appreciates the intent, he struggles with the many factors which result from implementing such a policy.

“If we can get the proper training for staff members to do that — and I’m talking about at least 80 hours of training, I’m not looking at just a conceal and carry situation — I’m more comfortable with that,” Akers said. “I would rather divert that to getting an SRO, a school resource officer, in every school that’s armed.”

The hope for KCSS is that the data will provide the states local school district officials with the information needed to review their disciplinary approaches and to continue to seek effective methods for addressing law violations.


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