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CCSD reveals new disciplinary actions amid spike in violence

Updated March 29, 2022 - 3:26 pm

In response to a recent spate of violence on school campuses, the Clark County School District will implement new disciplinary actions, including potential expulsion for students who engage in fighting, and a single point of entry for schools.

District officials unveiled the new disciplinary measures in a press conference Tuesday, following increased reports of violence throughout the district in recent weeks.

CCSD Superintendent Jesus Jara and other district officials acknowledged that parents and students are carrying anxiety and trauma following the past two years of the pandemic.

“While violence in schools is not a new phenomenon, the level of violence we are seeing is much worse,” Board Trustee Evelyn Garcia Morales said. “On behalf of the board, we want to let you know that we hear our community loud and clear.”

The district has seen over 1,000 logged citations and arrests since January and over 3,000 assaults, battery cases and fights since the start of the school year, CCSD Police Chief Henry Blackeye said Tuesday. Blackeye also said 38 students had been struck by vehicles on the way to or from school and 25 firearms had been confiscated on campuses since the start of the school year.

Earlier this month, one district high school was locked down for two consecutive days after several fights broke out, while a fight at another district high school was captured on video and posted to an account called “Foothill fight club.”

“We know that our kids are struggling because of the stress, anxieties and isolation of the pandemic, but violence is not and will never be the answer,” Jara said. “Should students and adults result to violence on our campus, we will remove them and hold them accountable according to our discipline code of conduct.”

The district is also approaching spring break and the end of the school year, a time when Blackeye said violent activity increases.

“Our kids need help,” Blackeye said. “We’re giving them all the help we can possibly give them, but we need parents to be involved in that as well.”

Blackeye also called recent occurrences of parents coming to campuses and committing acts of violence against students, staff and other parents a “new ingredient” in school violence incidents.

Earlier this month, Desert Oasis High School was locked down for two consecutive days after several fights broke out, culminating in the arrest of a man, a juvenile and nine juvenile citations.

On Monday, a woman accused of hitting two teenage girls with her SUV in Henderson Monday told police she planned to “take them out” for fighting with her daughter.

“Coming onto a school where children can see that…it just continues to exacerbate the problem,” Jara said Tuesday. “That’s where I would ask that parents go into the community and get the support they need.”

The district will begin recommending students for expulsion over physical altercations and fighting that results in significant campus disruptions, Jara said Tuesday. The district will also be enforcing and funding one point of entry on campuses in the coming weeks, including on campuses with open layouts and multiple points of entry like Arbor View High School.

The district will also re-implement an expulsion review board, made up of Board of School Trustees and retired administrators. Students who bring firearms to campus or that are involved in significant campus disruptions will be referred to the board.

“There are multiple levels of due process for students in the district that lead up to an expulsion review board, but students with firearms will go immediately to the expulsion review board due to the serious nature of the infraction, according to the district’s Chief Student Achievement Officer Mike Barton.

Students recommended for expulsion will be referred to other options like academic centers, or behavior schools, and the Nevada Learning Academy, the district’s online public secondary school.

“We must continue to provide a free and public education, but it doesn’t have to be on our comprehensive schools,” Jara said.

In a statement following the district’s announcement, ACLU of Nevada Executive Director Athar Haseebullah expressed concerns about how the policies would impact students of color and said it would be tracking the development closely.

“These changes to school discipline are what we often see within underfunded systems,” Haseebullah said.It’s a Band-Aid over a wider issue that leaves our underlying deficiencies in resources, policy, and training largely untouched in a state that continues to refuse to properly invest in public education.”

Ryan Lewis, principal of Edith Garehime Elementary School, acknowledged that students were struggling with issues that are unprecedented in the wake of the pandemic.

“We know it’s going to be hard, but it’s worth it,” Lewis said of the district’s solutions. “The last two years…has taken a toll that’s going to take a couple more years even to come out of.”

Contact Lorraine Longhi at llonghi@reviewjournal.com. Follow @lolonghi on Twitter.

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