School officials call Schenectady High School’s position on a statewide Persistently Dangerous Schools list “completely ridiculous.”
SHS was placed on the list with 18 other schools by the New York State Department of Education on Aug. 20. Sixteen of the schools listed are in New York City. Schenectady High was the only school on the list from the Capital Region.
The state Education Department said in a press release that a complete chart of incidents for every school was filed from data from the school year of 2006-2007.
The state evaluated the reports and visited the schools with a high number of incidents to come up with a conclusion if the schools are dangerous or not.
According to Eric Ely, superintendent of Schenectady City Schools, the state concluded that during one incident, an empty water bottle was considered a weapon as well as a chair being shoved — when no one was present in the room.
“It is not a true reflection of our school or what happens in our school. Our high school maintains complete order and I invite you at any time to stop in and see for yourself,” Ely said in a statement on the school district website.
SHS associate superintendent Gary Comley said he doesn’t believe the school is worse than others in our nation.
The school must now fill out an Incident Reduction Plan (IRP) according to the Education Department’s rules to detail how the district will address the identified problems. The state will now work with school officials to map out ideas to better the school and its safety.
But school officials started making many changes even before the state placed the high school on the list, Comley said. There is a former police chief as head of security, plus peer mediation, PBIS and Study Circles programs.
According to the records from 2007-2008, there are at least 2,500 fewer disciplines than the previous year. There has been a 20 percent reduction in incidents, echoed Ely.
The complete list of violent and disruptive incidents for all schools in the state can be found on the state’s website at www.nysed.gov.
Kristina Brousseau is a senior at Schenectady High School