The latest findings from the Pennsylvania Department of Education cast yet another unfavorable light on Philadelphia public schools, this time portraying the collective as some of the most violent in the state.
Make that the most violent in the state, according to rankings on the Department of Education’s “Persistently Dangerous Schools List.”
According to the PDE, a school that enrolls 250 students or less and has five or more dangerous incidents is listed as persistently dangerous. A school enrolling between 251 and 1,000 students must have a number of dangerous incidents exceeding 2 percent of its enrollment to make the list.
If a school that enrolls more than 1,001 students and has 20 or more dangerous incidents, it will make the list.
This latest data, made available through the Unsafe School Choice Option, is designed to supply parents and stakeholders with the resources and knowledge to easily transfer their child out of a dangerous school.
All 12 of the schools on the 2011-2012 list are in the School District of Philadelphia.
“The State Board of Education adopted standards in May 2003 that will allow a student who is a victim of a violent criminal offense to transfer to a safe public school and allow a student who attends a persistently dangerous school to transfer to a safe public school,” read an explanatory statement from the PDE. “Together, these two requirements are known as the Unsafe School Choice Option (USCO). These requirements are part of the Federal No Child Left Behind regulations.
“The standards require local education agencies to provide a student who is the victim of a violent criminal offense the option to transfer to another school that is a safe public school. The standards also establish definitions of ‘victim’ and ‘violent criminal offense’ for the local education agency to use in applying the transfer option.”
According to the data, several Philadelphia schools are repeaters. Abraham Lincoln High School has remained on the list since the creation of the PDSL in 2006. Joining Abraham Lincoln on the 2011-2012 PDSL are Thomas A. Edison High School, Samuel Fels High School, Frankford High School, Kensington International Business, Finance and Entrepreneurial High School, Northeast High School, William L. Sayre High School, Anna H. Shaw Middle School, South Philadelphia High School, Strawberry Mansion High School, Universal Audenreid Promise Neighborhood Partnership Charter School and Mastery Charter School-Simon Gratz Campus.
Edison, Fels, Frankford High, Lincoln High, Sayre, Shaw Middle School, South Philadelphia High, Strawberry Mansion High and Vare Middle School were also on the 2010-2011 list as well.
Interestingly, only one of the schools that made the list – Fitzsimmons High School, which has appeared on this list four times – is the only one slated to be closed via the school district’s Facilities Master Plan.
Officials with the Philadelphia School District haven’t returned calls for comment by Tribune deadline, but the district has taken steps to curb violence in its schools. The five-year reorganization blueprint submitted by District Chief Recovery Officer Thomas Knudsen shows that violence in Philadelphia public schools decreased by 36 percent from 2007-08 through 2010-11, while there have been 2.6 violent incidents per 100 students in the 2010-11 academic year. Knudsen’s plan calls for more autonomy for principals so they can better secure their schools, implement positive behavioral interventions and identify at-risk students.