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Violence and Vandalism in Schools Up 44% Last Year

There were 173 incidents included in report issued by the State Department of Education.

Violence and Vandalism in Schools Up 44% Last Year

There were 173 incidents of violence and vandalism in Wayne public schools during the 2011-12 school year, a 44 percent increase from the previous school year.

The state Department of Education released is Violence and Vandalism in Schools Report on Tuesday. The annual highlights self-reported incidents of violence, vandalism, and, for the first time, incidents of harassment, intimidation, and bullying (HIB).

Of the 173 incidents, 79 were deemed violence offenses and 23 involved vandalism to property. Weapons were involved in two incidents. Fifty-three of the incidents involved drugs, alcohol, or another dangerous substance and 18 were instances of HIB.

There 120 incidents reported during the 2010-2011 school year.

HIB incidents used to be reported as violent offenses. Beginning this year they are listed as a separate category. (A PDF of statistics for every district in the state has been attached to this article.)

Most of the violent incidents occurred at Wayne Hills and Wayne Valley high schools. Most were fights or HIB incidents. There were 40 confirmed incidents of substance abuse in the district.

There were nearly 1,300 total incidents reported in Passaic County last year.

Districts are required to report incidents if they occur on school grounds during school hours, on a school bus, or at a school-sponsored event.

“We are committed to being as transparent as possible about circumstances that impact the health and safety of our students with the goal of ensuring every child in New Jersey can learn in a safe and supportive learning environment,” state education Commissioner Chris Cerf said in a statement.

Superintendent of Schools Ray Gonzalez reports on the number of HIB incidents in the district at Board of Education meetings.

Districts are now required to report all confirmed incidents of HIB in the district, including those that occur off school property, and the number of investigations conducted.

The changes were enacted with the passage of Governor Chris Christie’s Anti-Bullying Rights Act in 2011.

To view more information, including a report on incidents in every district in the state dating back to 2004, click here.

— Have a question or news tip? Contact editor Daniel Hubbard at Daniel.Hubbard@patch.com or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

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