Are any of Rome or Floyd County’s public schools “persist-ently dangerous”? Most likely not, under any definition. Is every school in the state actually “safe”? Come on! Give the public some credit for at least a smidgen of brains.
How many parents out there would, without qualm, transfer their child into any school anywhere in Georgia? How many parents out there moved to Greater Rome, or now live outside it but send their children to school here, because our local schools provide a “better environment,” meaning not only educationally but also from the standpoint of having less violence, less drugs, less of “bad things” in general?
If pressed, state officials will admit that their definition of what is “persistently dangerous” varies markedly from the federal recommendation. Keeping tabs on “persistently dangerous” schools is a part of the No Child Left Behind Act, designed to boost public-school account-ability. Under the law, a school that is “persistently dangerous” has to so notify parents and provide transfer options to a school that is not dangerous.
THE U.S. Department of Edu-cation recommends, but does not insist, that “persistently dangerous” be applied to any school that, within a single school year, records a violent crime on school grounds (or has a pattern of persistent drug, gun or terrorist-threat violations). In Georgia those violent crimes are murder, voluntary manslaughter, aggravated battery, rape, aggravated sodomy, first-degree arson, armed robbery, aggravated sexual battery or aggravated child molestation.
Instead of the recommended single year, Georgia instead chose to apply the “persistently dangerous” label only to those schools in which such violence occurred for three years in a row. Two bad years, one “safe” year, another two bad years and a school would not be persistently dangerous.
And none in Georgia were. How unremarkable, and not much to express pleasure about. To claim that all state schools are “not persistently dangerous” under such standards is to do little more than attempt to hoodwink the public.
Let’s grant Georgia education officials are right about the “persistent” part of the definition. One year may be a bit stern because, even in the best and safest of schools, some nut case may suddenly appear. Columbine High School in Colorado was not “persistently” dangerous; it was only suddenly dangerous in that one year when two students massacred class-mates.
HOW’S ABOUT modifying this to two years in a row? It is known that several state schools would already have “flunked” last year under that standard.
Even with a rather liberal Georgia definition of dangerous, it appears one of the additional consequences has been an inability of school officials to see violence.
For example, in Marietta security cameras caught a
17-year-old male pulling a 16-year-old girl into a restroom
to have sex with her. School officials — not the police — decided this should not be classified as a rape. In Cherokee County, two severe beatings (broken jaw, etc.) were classified by school officials as simple batteries and not as “aggravated batteries” that would have had to be reported.
Frankly, school disciplinary boards — which do the reporting of the statistics — shouldn’t have any say in how an incident is classified. It should be up to the police to determine the facts and up to the local district attorney to determine what charge is applicable.
THE STATE is currently re-examining its three-year stan- dard for “persistently dangerous.” It would be outrageously dangerous to the ability of parents to make decisions regarding the safety of their children to fail to modify the current definition of what constitutes safety