It’s alarming

It’s alarming

The front page of today’s Times-News carries some troubling statistics about how often police must intervene in problems in Allegany County public schools.

During the 2006-07 school year, school personnel handled 1,219 incidents that resulted in suspension. The previous year, there were fewer — 899. The statistics cover grades middle school through high school.

The No. 1 infraction was fighting, which resulted in 191 suspensions. Disrespect was second at 189; followed by insubordination; 139; physical attack on another student, 115, and refusal to obey school policy, 114.

Given several recent incidents of violence, the Times-News sought information from law enforcement agencies and the Allegany County Board of Education about how often police have to become involved in school problems.

Having to handle more than 1,200 suspensions in a year’s time is certainly excessive. It is a problem that needs to be addressed not only by school leaders, but also by police, parents and the community at large.

We hear that there is no discipline in schools, but it certainly appears as though the schools are reacting to the problem. Their efforts are just not working.

Cumberland Police have two police officers who serve as school resource officers. Each officer spends his entire 40-hour week in city schools. Is adding more officers to the schools the answer? Are security personnel needed? Does more need to be done to rid the school system of chronic trouble-makers?

We don’t know the answers to these questions. But we do know that the number of incidents at our schools puts our children at risk.

Perhaps the biggest question of all is, now that we know the statistics, what are we going to do to fix the problem?

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