MINUTES OF THE MEETING

OF THE

LEGISLATIVE COMMISSION ON SCHOOL SAFETY AND JUVENILE VIOLENCE

(Assembly Bill 686, Chapter 607, Statutes of Nevada 1999)

March 7, 2000

Pahrump, Nevada

 

 

 


The fifth meeting of the Legislative Commission on School Safety and Juvenile Violence (Assembly Bill 686) during the 1999-2000 interim was held on Tuesday, March 7, 2000, commencing at 10 a.m.  The meeting was held at the Mountain View Casino, 1750 South Pahrump Valley Boulevard, Pahrump, Nevada. Pages 2 and 3 contain the “Meeting Notice and Agenda” for this meeting.

 

COMMISSION MEMBERS PRESENT:

 

Senator Valerie Wiener, Chairman

Michael E. Johnson, Parent, Vice Chairman

Assemblywoman Bonnie L. Parnell

Pamela Hawkins, Western High School Principal

M. Kim Radich, O’Callaghan Middle School Teacher

Vince Swinney, Representative of Law Enforcement

 

COMMISSION MEMBERS EXCUSED:

 

Marcia R. Bandera, Elko County School District Superintendent

Barbara Baxter, Sparks High School Teacher

Tom Burns, Representative of Law Enforcement

Annie Rees, Parent

Keith Savage, Yerington High School Principal

 

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL BUREAU STAFF PRESENT:

 

Juliann K. Jenson, Senior Research Analyst

R. Rene Yeckley, Senior Deputy Legislative Counsel

Christine Kuhl, Senior Research Secretary

MEETING NOTICE AND AGENDA

 

Name of Organization:         Commission on School Safety and Juvenile Violence

(Assembly Bill 686, Chapter 607, Statutes of Nevada 1999)

 

Date and Time of Meeting:   Tuesday, March 7, 2000

10 a.m.

 

Place of Meeting:                Mountain View Casino

1750 South Pahrump Valley Boulevard

Pahrump, Nevada

 

 

A G E N D A

 

    I.    Opening Remarks by the Chair and Introductions

 

Senator Valerie Wiener

 

*II.    Approval of the Minutes from the January 5, 2000, Meeting in Carson City

 

*III.    Presentation and Discussion:  National and Local Prevention and Intervention Efforts to Reduce the Incidence of School and Juvenile Violence

 

A.    Julie Thomerson, Policy Associate, National Conference of State Legislatures

 

B.    Geraldine Harge, Superintendent, Nye County School District

 

C.    Kevin Nielsen, Program Director, Family-School-Community Partnership Program, Clark County Education Association

 

D.    Jim Welsh, Deputy Superintendent, Washoe County School District

 

IV.    Public Comment


*V.     Discussion of Future Meeting Dates and Topics

 

VI.    Adjournment

 

*Denotes items on which the Commission may take action.

 

 

 


Note:    We are pleased to make reasonable accommodations for members of the public who are disabled and wish to attend the meeting.  If special arrangements for the meeting are necessary, please notify the Research Division of the Legislative Counsel Bureau, in writing, at the Legislative Building, 401 South Carson Street, Carson City, Nevada 89701-4747, or call Christine Kuhl, at (775) 684-6825, as soon as possible.

 

 

 


Notice of this meeting was posted in the following Carson City, Nevada, locations:  Blasdel Building, 209 East Musser Street; Capitol Press Corps, Basement, Capitol Building; City Hall, 201 North Carson Street; Legislative Building, 401 South Carson Street; and Nevada State Library, 100 Stewart Street.  Notice of this meeting was faxed for posting to the following Las Vegas, Nevada, locations:  Grant Sawyer State Office Building, 555 East Washington Avenue; and Clark County Office, 500 South Grand Central Parkway.   Notice of this meeting was faxed for posting to the following Pahrump, Nevada, locations:  Pahrump Town Office, 400 North Highway 160; and Mountain View Casino, 1750 South Pahrump Valley Boulevard.


OPENING REMARKS BY THE COMMITTEE CHAIR

AND INTRODUCTIONS

 

Senator Valerie Wiener, Chair of the Committee, called the meeting to order at 10 a.m. and introduced the members and staff.

 

Senator Wiener reported that on March 3, 2000, a meeting of the chairpersons of the legislative interim committees was held in Las Vegas, Nevada.  The meeting, called by the Legislative Commission Chair, Senator Ann O’Connell, was the first of its kind in Nevada’s history.  The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the issues being addressed by the interim committees in order to verify that there is not a substantial overlap of the issues or a void in the activities being conducted.  Further, Governor Kenny C. Guinn testified regarding the status of funding for interim projects and programs.  He announced that approximately 98 percent of the allocated funds have been spent for the next budget cycle, leaving about 2 percent discretionary funds for additional State needs.  Senator Wiener explained that she provided information regarding the status of the projects being conducted by both the Commission on School Safety and Juvenile Violence and the Legislative Commission’s Subcommittee to Study the System of Juvenile Justice in Nevada (Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 13, File No. 139, Statutes of Nevada 1999).  Senator Wiener stated that Senator O’Connell expressed her pleasure with the work being conducted by the two groups.

 

Commenting further, Senator Wiener explained that because the tenure of the Commission on School Safety and Juvenile Violence is short, the Commission will benefit from testimony provided by experts.  This will assist in gaining information to develop a comprehensive school safety package.  The Commission has completed the first phase of its work by devising an emergency response plan.  The plan will be distributed to school superintendents statewide and is to be implemented by July 2000.  The focus of this meeting is to address the second phase, which focuses on prevention and intervention programs to reduce juvenile and school violence.

 

 

APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES FROM THE JANUARY 5, 2000,

MEETING IN CARSON CITY

 

MR. SWINNEY MOVED TO APPROVE THE MINUTES FROM THE MEETING HELD ON JANUARY 25, 2000, IN CARSON CITY, NEVADA.  MR. JOHNSON SECONDED THE MOTION, WHICH CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.

 

 


PRESENTATION AND DISCUSSION:  NATIONAL AND LOCAL PREVENTION

AND INTERVENTION EFFORTS TO REDUCE THE INCIDENCE OF

SCHOOL AND JUVENILE VIOLENCE

 

Julie Thomerson and Jane Grady

 

Julie Thomerson, Policy Associate, National Conference of State Legislatures, explained that this organization provides support and services for state legislatures nationwide.  The organization has two offices, one located in Denver, Colorado and the other in Washington D.C.  The Denver office primarily works with state legislatures regarding policy issues, such as school safety and juvenile violence.  Ms. Thomerson provided the Commission with nine documents (Exhibit A).  Please see the “List of Exhibits” for details.

 

Beginning her presentation, Ms. Thomerson identified contemporary school violence trends.  They are as follows:

 

·                    The number of high-profile, multiple victim school homicides is increasing;

 

·                    The level of fear experienced by students and threats of violence in schools are increasing; and

 

·                    During the 1997-1998 school year there were 3,930 expulsions from school for firearms possession.

 

Jane Grady, University of Colorado at Boulder, Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence (hereafter referred to as “the Center”), explained that in October 1998, a book entitled Violence in American Schools was published by the Center.  This publication is a compilation of research conducted by experts nationwide and addresses firearms, prevention and intervention programs, the public health model, and safe-school planning.  The definition of violence used in the study is “the threat or use of physical force with the intention of causing physical injury, damage, or intimidation of another person.” 

 

Continuing, Ms. Grady identified three predominate features of violence that came into existence in the last decade.  They are:

 

1.       Fewer safe places;

 

2.       Increased lethality, attributed almost entirely to the use of firearms; and

 

3.       Increased random violence.

 


According to Ms. Grady, society’s response to increased lethality has been mainly limited to the implementation of harsh punishments and judicial interventions.  However, research shows that most of these actions are ineffective and do not aid in rehabilitation.  Prevention and intervention efforts are more cost-effective and provide the desired outcomes.

 

Further, in the last decade social institutions have not been keeping pace with the needs of communities and families, which places additional pressures on schools to provide solutions to the problems faced in contemporary society.  The violence occurring on school campuses is a result of societal influences; consequently, a comprehensive approach is the best solution.  Therefore, the use of the public health prevention model, which incorporates the finding of facts, should be used to assess the issues faced by a specific community and implement strategies and programs that meet those needs.

 

Ms. Grady addressed the social contexts that influence school violence.  She noted that a majority of the individuals involved in recent school shootings have risk factors from more than one of these areas.   Social contexts to consider are:

 

·                    The community:  Do neighborhoods have high population density, lack of opportunity and employment, poverty, prevalence of violence, and social disorganization?

 

·                    The family:  Has the family provided the child with positive bonding, discipline, and support, especially in the formative years?

 

·                    The individual:  Are there substance abuse or mental health issues?

 

·                    The peer group:  How do peers influence the individual, especially during adolescence?

 

·                    The school:  Does the school provide clear rules governing student behavior, enforce school rules and policies consistently, and provide effective academic instruction?

 

Further, Ms. Grady explained the four key ways schools could contribute to the prevention of violence:

 

1.                  Implementing practices in the classrooms and on playgrounds that promote development of social bonding and academic success;

 

2.                  Promoting pro-social norms and behaviors;

 

3.                  Teaching skills to resolve conflicts nonviolently; and

 

4.                  Minimizing availability and acceptance of weapons.

 

The integration of perspectives from child development studies, criminology, life course studies, and the field of public health are necessary components in the development of a comprehensive approach to school violence prevention, asserted Ms. Grady.

 

She identified the three primary strategies to prevent school violence.  They are as follows:

 

1.                  Public policy;

 

2.                  Systematic change; and

 

3.                  Youth programs.

 

Continuing the presentation, Ms. Thomerson explained that state legislatures nationwide are addressing school violence by:

 

·                    Encouraging collaboration on the local level;

 

·                    Enhancing criminal penalties for violations committed on school grounds;

 

·                    Implementing comprehensive, statewide programs;

 

·                    Implementing mandatory school policies such as statewide disciplinary policies for codes of conduct; and

 

·                    Providing funding incentives to local governments and school districts.

 

Implementation actions include the following measures:

 

·                    Addressing building security;

 

·                    Adopting dress codes or uniforms;

 

·                    Developing and implementing emergency response and safety plans;

 

·                    Implementing zero tolerance policies;

 

·                    Instituting after school programs;

 

·                    Integrating conflict management and violence prevention curriculum;

 

·                    Providing counseling and mental health services; and

 

·                    Utilizing school resource officers.

Commenting further, Ms. Thomerson discussed the comprehensive approach to school safety.  She explained that there are many benefits to a collaborative approach including the sharing of resources and information.  This approach involves community agencies, law enforcement representatives, parents, school administrators, students, and teachers.  Ms. Thomerson directed the Commission members’ attention to Exhibit A-1, which explains the comprehensive strategy in detail.

 

Ms. Thomerson next discussed two national programs to prevent youth involvement in gangs, G.R.E.A.T. (Gang Resistance Education and Training) and the Montreal Preventative Treatment Program.  She explained G.R.E.A.T. is a national program that is not limited to a specific age group and has been implemented in local communities of 47 states.  In this program, law enforcement officers teach gang resistance and conflict resolution skills to children.  Preliminary research indicates that there is a reduction of the involvement of children in gangs as well as higher self-esteem.  The Montreal Preventative Treatment Program trains parents of at-risk boys aged 7 to 9 years to reinforce positive behavior.

 

Continuing, she noted that most violence prevention and intervention programs that are curriculum based have been evaluated for effectiveness; however, the more specific responsive measures largely have not.  There are, however, national efforts in place to study response measures.

 

Regarding programs to reduce juvenile gun crime, Ms. Thomerson identified the following preventative measures, which have been implemented by community and local agencies, not legislation:

 

·                    Partnership for the Prevention of Juvenile Gun Violence, Baton Rouge, Louisiana:

 

This program provides high intensity probation and parole programs for people who have committed crimes involving the use of guns.  Further, it provides intensive interventions with high-risk youth and their families.  Research has shown that the occurrence of recommitted crimes among graduates of this program is 10 percent.

 

·                    Project Exile, Richmond, Virginia:

 

This program involves a massive advertising campaign explaining the harsh penalties for possession of a firearm while committing a felony or repeat offense.  There has been a 65 percent decrease in gun crime in Richmond since 1996.

 

·                    Operation Cease Fire, Boston, Massachusetts:

 

This program involves developing strategies to disrupt the flow of firearms within the community, prioritizing prosecutions based on the involvement of firearms, and suppressing firearms possession in areas with a large concentration of gang activity.

Turning to funding, Ms. Thomerson identified possible sources to be utilized in the implementation of school safety programs.  They are:

 

·                    Federal grant funding;

 

·                    National or local foundations;

 

·                    State appropriations; and

 

·                    Local partnerships.

 

Many states have implemented legislation requiring courts, law enforcement agencies, and schools to share information.  This type of legislation mandates courts and law enforcement agencies to report convictions or incidents to schools, and schools report criminal activity occurring on school grounds to law enforcement agencies.  However, only one state has enacted legislation providing consequences to school administrators who fail to comply.

 

Ms. Thomerson identified agencies that have conducted or are in the process of conducting evaluations of violence prevention and intervention programs.  These organizations have developed a list of effective programs and are:

 

·                    Best Practices, currently being developed by the Centers for Disease Control, United States Department of Health and Human Services;

 

·                    Blueprints for Violence Prevention, Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence; and

 

·                    The Hamilton Fish National Institute on School and Community Violence.

 

Following Ms. Thomerson’s presentation, Ms. Grady played a videotape titled “Blueprints for Violence Prevention” and provided a packet titled Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence (Exhibit B).

 

Discussion ensued regarding evaluation methods utilized when determining the success of school violence prevention programs.  Assemblywoman Parnell questioned the statistics regarding mandated implementation of parenting classes into high school curriculums nationwide and was assured by Ms. Thomerson that she will be provided information at a later date.  Answering a question initiated by Ms. Hawkins, Ms. Grady reported the blueprints programs are “stand-alone” ones that encompass comprehensive components.

 


Resuming her presentation, Ms. Grady provided information on an initiative currently being implemented by the State of Colorado called “Safe Communities – Safe Schools.”  The initiative has received funding and collaboration from the following agencies:

 

·                    The Colorado Association of School Boards;

 

·                    The Colorado Association of School Executives;

 

·                    The Colorado Attorney General;

 

·                    The Colorado Department of Education;

 

·                    The Colorado Education Association;

 

·                    The Colorado Federation of Teachers;

 

·                    The Colorado Trust;

 

·                    The Coors Brewing Company; and

 

·                    The Front Range and Metro of Denver Safe and Drug-Free School coordinators.

 

One purpose of the initiative is to reach a wide audience in an effort to help people understand safe schools are the responsibility of the entire community, not just the schools themselves.  The safe-school model is based on support from community members and the advisory board reflects this.  The mission is to create and maintain a positive, welcoming, school climate, free of drugs, fear, intimidation, and violence.  The environment is supported by the community and provides an atmosphere where teachers are able to teach and students are able to learn.  The model provides a framework under which each school or school district may design an individualized safe-school plan.  Further, the “Safe Communities – Safe Schools” model addresses behavioral and property protection aspects of violence prevention.

 

The “Safe Communities – Safe Schools” model includes a “Safe School Planning Team,” which is responsible for the following actions:

 

·                    Conducting an annual site assessment to determine the extent of any school safety problems and/or climate issues.  The site assessment will be used as a planning tool for the present and future;

 

·                    Developing an “Emergency Management and Crisis Response Plan”;

 

·                    Developing strategies and recommendations for implementation; and

 

·                    Establishing a “Social Support Team” which comprises professionals including counselors, law enforcement agencies, psychologists, and public health representatives.  The purpose of this team is to receive input from the community, students, and teachers regarding occurrences or risk factors and will serve as an informational resource center.

 

The initiative has developed both an Immediate Response Plan and a Long-Term Response Plan.  As part of the Immediate Response Plan, the Center will be working with all of the schools and school districts in the State of Colorado to help each get started on their site specific “Safe-School Plan.”  The Center will also offer the following resources:

 

1.                  Information house, which provides:

 

·        Services five days per week by telephone, facsimile, electronic mail, or in person;

 

·        Database searches;

 

·        Information exhibits for meetings and conferences;

 

·        Presentations at meetings and conferences; and

 

·        Publications and fact sheets.

 

2.                  Media campaign:

 

·        Hosted a press conference at the Colorado State Capitol in December 1999; and

 

·        Provided outreach to the entire community to increase awareness of community responsibility, a safe-school climate, and safe-school planning.

 

3.                  Publications:

 

·        Safe Communities – Safe Schools Planning Guide, explains the specific components of the model;

 

·        Safe-School Assessment Instruments, includes actual instruments and surveys to be used in completing annual school site assessment;

 

·        School-Based Programs for Violence Prevention, provides description and evaluation of school based violence and drug prevention programs that have been implemented nationwide, including promising Colorado school based programs; and

 

·        Youth Violence:  Causes and Dynamics, provides a tool for developing safe-school plans and selecting appropriate violence prevention programming.

 

4.                  Technical assistance:

 

·        Based on components of “Safe Communities – Safe Schools” model;

 

·        Provided by telephone, e-mail, listserv, and web site; and

 

·        School site visits, based on number of requests received.

 

5.                  Web site (www.colorado.edu/cspv/safeschools) to provide the following information:

 

·        Bulletin board;

 

·        Database searches;

 

·        Fact sheets;

 

·        Online safe-school magazine;

 

·        Online surveys; and

 

·        Statistics.

 

The Long-Term Response Plan will include:

 

·                    More in-depth training and technical assistance to a select group of 20 schools, which will include elementary, middle, and high schools located in urban, rural, and suburban areas;

 

·                    Service to begin in the spring of 2000 for 2 ½ years;

 

·                    Semi-monthly visits to the selected school sites;

 

·                    An annual school site assessment to identify needs and monitor implementation of the school’s “Safe-school Plan;” and

 

·                    An outcome evaluation once the programming has been put in place to determine if the targeted issues have been addressed and the necessary changes have occurred.

 


Upon conclusion of Ms. Grady’s presentation, Ms. Thomerson noted that the effectiveness of a program is based on the individual school’s circumstances and every program will not be effective at every school.  The effectiveness depends on the specific needs of the community and school.  She stressed the importance of incorporating specific assessment requirements when implementing a school safety program.

 

Geraldine Harge

 

Geraldine Harge, Nye County School District Superintendent, began her presentation by providing demographic information on the Nye County School District:

 

·                    The district encompasses 18,500 square miles and includes 15 schools in seven towns;

 

·                    District-wide enrollment is 5,405 students;

 

·                    Schools range from a one room schoolhouse with 13 students located in Duckwater, Nevada, to Pahrump Valley High School with an enrollment of 1,000; and

 

·                    The district has 800 certified and classified employees.

 

Next, Ms. Harge provided the Commission members a packet entitled Nye County School District (Exhibit C) and discussed the Nye County Student Code of Conduct, contained in the Student Behavior Handbooks.  She addressed the origin and implementation of the Student Code of Conduct:

 

·                    The staff members requested clear and consistent procedures;

 

·                    Public hearings were held in an effort to gain community input;

 

·                    The Nye County Sheriff’s Department was instrumental in the development of the offenses and consequences section;

 

·                    Offenses and consequences were tailored to the District’s specific needs and derived directly from Nevada law;

 

·                    The project was completed in the fall of 1995 and district-wide implementation began thereafter;

 

·                    Actions were taken to ensure that the staff and students understood the Code;

 

·                    Principals and staff have supported the Code because it provides procedural consistency;

 

·                    The Code provides guidelines to ensure a safe and orderly school environment; and

 

·                    Staff members evaluate the Code every spring.

 

Continuing, Ms. Harge provided the comparative results of student suspensions for the 1996‑1997 (post implementation) versus the 1995‑1996 (pre implementation) school years:

 

 

Violation

Percentage of Fewer Suspensions

Percentage of Fewer Suspension Days

Battery

27

17

Class Disruption

93

93

Fighting

27

3

Insubordination

65

47

Swearing

52

54

Weapons on campus (not guns)

30

93

Violation

Percentage of Increased Suspensions

Percentage of Increased Suspension Days

Alcohol Use on Campus

82

90

Drug Possession/Use on Campus

6

2

 

 

W. L. “Bill” Weldon, Nye County Undersheriff, responded to Senator Wiener’s question regarding gang activity in Nye County by informing the Commission that there are no organized gangs in Nye County.  However, there are individuals who are “wannabe” gang members, as evidenced by graffiti.  Mr. Weldon speculated that the recent pseudo-gang activity is related to recent population growth and explained graffiti in public places is promptly removed.

 

Kevin Nielsen

 

Kevin Nielsen, Program Director, Family-School-Community Partnership Program, Clark County Education Association, provided the Commission members with an information packet (Exhibit D).  He explained the Family-School-Community Partnership Program is part of a collaboration in Clark County called Z2, which is “Zero Tolerance – Zero Weapons.”  The program originated out of a community conversation held in June 1998.  At the community meeting, the issue of school safety was identified as the main concern of the majority of attendees.  A second community conversation was held in April 1999, specifically to discuss school safety.  At this meeting, attendees were shown a video titled “Public Engagement - School Safety”, presented by the National Education Association and Public Agenda.  Mr. Nielsen stated that a copy of the videotape is available to any school district or organization in the State of Nevada.  The video was played for the Commission members.

Continuing his presentation, Mr. Nielsen explained at the April 1999 community meeting, school safety was identified as a crisis.  The need for community outreach programs to train community members, educators, and parents with regard to school safety was identified.  Consequently, the Family-School-Community Partnership Program was developed. 

 

This program consists of a coalition of 25 people who provide 30- to 45-minute presentations to the community and educators on various school safety subjects including deterring disruptive behavior, gangs in schools, parental involvement, and playground bullying.  The goal is to provide simple, down to earth information that the community can obtain in a short presentation and easily implement.  He explained that with regard to deterring disruptive behavior, educators are taught strategies to deal with disruptive students in the classroom, hallway, and playground.  Parents receive instruction regarding addressing these issues in their homes.  Secondly, regarding gangs in schools, Mr. Nielsen explained that the program members worked with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department to gain knowledge on identifying gang behaviors, i.e. clothing and graffiti, and to obtain information regarding resource contacts.  This information is relayed during presentations.  Finally, the presentation on school bullying teaches the importance of identifying and addressing the issue early.  He explained that many perpetrators of school violence were bullied as adolescents.  Educators are instructed on playground monitoring techniques and parents are taught to identify indicative behaviors. 

 

Community involvement is the key to prevention of school violence, asserted Mr. Nielsen, and teacher training and parental involvement are the primary goals.  He explained that the program attempts to gain community involvement by providing information in a variety of ways, including walking door to door in neighborhoods.  Further, information is provided through various community agencies, including family resource centers, hospitals, and social services organizations. 

 

Mr. Nielsen responded to three questions posed by Senator Wiener.  First, Mr. Nielsen explained that instructional guidelines regarding development of a parent network are available.  Parents in the network sign a pledge stating that all activities hosted by their household will be supervised and free of alcohol, drugs, and weapons.  Participants share telephone numbers and are encouraged to contact one another with concerns or observations.  Green Valley High School, in Clark County, has implemented a network program and it has been successful.  Secondly, the literature and presentations provided by the program are available in both English and Spanish and a bilingual speaker is utilized when walking door to door.  Currently, the program is working on expanding its diversity resources.  Concluding his response, Mr. Nielsen explained resources offered by other agencies are also shared with the community at every available opportunity.

 

Ms. Hawkins opined that the parent network approach is a worthwhile program and is most effective at the middle school level.  Further, she asserted that the effectiveness depends on the community members and their willingness to work together.

Additionally, Ms. Radich applauded the efforts of Mr. Nielsen and the program for providing outstanding resources to the community.

 

Jim Welsh

 

Jim Welsh, Washoe County School District Deputy Superintendent, provided a document dated July 1999, regarding School Violence Preparedness (Exhibit E).

 

Mr. Welsh explained that even with many programs in place, the Washoe County School District experiences problems.  However, as a generalization, the schools in Washoe County are safe and the District has implemented programs to ensure they remain safe.

 

The Washoe County School District has programs in the following areas:

 

·                    Curriculum;

 

·                    Incident response;

 

·                    Intervention;

 

·                    Policy; and

 

·                    Prevention.

 

Mr. Welsh provided detail regarding the following programs, which have experienced success:

 

·                    Curriculum:

 

§         A program called “Get Real About Violence” is introduced in the classrooms of grades kindergarten through 6.

 

§         Six at-risk schools have been identified for “The Tower Program” which helps enhance a student’s abilities to control his environment through responsible behavior.

 

§         “Here’s Looking at You 2000” is a substance abuse program aimed at developing a school climate which supports positive behavior and good decision making skills.  This program has been in place for nine years with positive results.  The community and parents are involved in the program.  As a result, 41 schools have implemented positive school climate guidelines.

 

 

 

·                    Intervention:

 

§         “The Violence Intervention Program” addresses students at the secondary level.  This program is offered to a student who has committed a violent act toward another student, which does not call for expulsion.  The student is given an option on the first offense to take a 10-day suspension or to participate in a violence intervention program and “buy back” six of the suspension days.  The evening program consists of one class per week for four weeks. The student must attend with a parent, and topics such as anger management, conflict resolution strategies, and the law are covered.  The recidivism rate with this program is very low.

 

§         “The Star Program,” implemented during the present school year, addresses students who have committed an act that requires, by law, a long-term expulsion. The program provides services and monitors academic and behavioral progress.  Effectiveness of the program is undeterminable at this time.

 

§         “The Nova Net Program,” developed by the University of Illinois, Urbana, is a credit recapture program for high school students.  The program targets students who have dropped out of high school and are returning.  Classes are offered at night and on weekends.

 

·                    Prevention:

 

§         Through peer mediation, adolescents develop conflict resolution skills that set a tone throughout the school regarding acceptable behavior.

 

§         “The Foster Grandparents Program” provides positive guidance in a student’s life.

 

§         The 60 elementary schools district-wide have 44 counselors available to provide assistance with conflict resolution and social skills training.  Consistently, principals have indicated the need for counselors at the elementary level by requesting they remain in the yearly budget and, in turn, the principals are willing to accept cuts in other areas.   The district employs two behavior consultants to assist the elementary schools with difficult cases.

 

§         Family focus centers, which are particularly helpful at the elementary level, act as a coordinator for all family social services provided by Washoe County and the community.  The programs and services are easily accessed in one location, at the student’s school.  The Washoe County School District has eight family focus centers in place.

 

There are multiple reasons for violence and unsafe schools; consequently, any program that begins to address the multiple causes must be maintained, asserted Mr. Welsh.

Concluding his presentation, Mr. Welsh informed the Commission that following the school shooting incident at Littleton, Colorado, the Washoe County School District experienced threats of school violence from “copy cats.”  This made apparent the need to bring local law enforcement agencies and schools together to share information and address intervention.  Consequently, agencies developed guidelines, contained in a document titled Memorandum of Understanding between the F.B.I., the Reno Police Department, The Sparks Police Department, The Washoe County Sheriff’s Department, and the Washoe County School District (contained in Exhibit E).  This agreement has resolved certain issues regarding ambivalence of roles.  Mr. Welsh opined this issue must be addressed by all school districts.

 

Mr. Swinney questioned the procedure for maintenance of the memorandum agreement and was informed by Mr. Welsh that the groups are committed to at least four meetings per year, and any one of the agencies may request a nonscheduled meeting as well.  Further, these agencies will be involved with schools currently under development in the County.

 

Responding to a question posed by Senator Wiener, Mr. Welsh explained that counselors and special education teachers at the elementary schools are trained to identify risk factor predictors.

 

 

PUBLIC COMMENT

 

David F. Bash, III

 

David F. Bash, III, Juvenile Justice Advocates of Nevada, informed the committee that he has spoken with Leonard Pugh, Director, Washoe County Juvenile Services, who confirmed that training is provided to school district staff members.

 

Further, regarding a school asset-building program, he informed the Commission of a coalition of agencies and individuals in Clark County, including the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and the Clark County School District, called “Project Nevada.”  The project has raised several thousand dollars to survey students from six schools in Las Vegas and two in Boulder City, Nevada, regarding asset building.  This survey will provide information, from a child’s perspective, regarding the effectiveness of these programs.  This analysis will provide a guide for proceeding with the programs.  He requested that the Commission consider a presentation from “Project Nevada” at a future meeting.

 

Kirby L. Burgess

 

Kirby L. Burgess, Director, Family and Youth Services, Clark County, Nevada, reported that this organization is collaborating with the Clark County School District; however, not to the extent of what is occurring in Washoe County due to the large size of the district.

 

Senator Wiener suggested that the Clark County School District pursue programs similar to those implemented by Washoe County.

 

Assemblywoman Parnell asked if the juvenile court mandates that the parent(s) of a child who is in the juvenile probation program, attend a parent effectiveness training class or other integrated parent programs.  Mr. Burgess replied that the Clark County Department of Family and Youth Services offers the largest number of parent education programs in the State of Nevada.   Programs have been in place for 11 years and have been highly successful.  The juvenile detention centers in the County mandate parent education programs such as “Back in Control,” a training class that works with families of troubled teens.

 

Continuing, Assemblywoman Parnell declared that the Commission should consider recommending that juvenile detention centers statewide implement and mandate similar programs.

 

Senator Wiener noted that the Commission might not have the authority to make such recommendations.  She invited interested parties to make additional suggestions prior to the Commission’s work session regarding subjects that are not specifically addressed at Commission meetings.  During the work session, the Commission will be working on its final recommendations and bill draft requests (BDRs).  These recommendations may lead to bill draft requests and ultimately to legislation.  Remarking further, Senator Wiener added that as legislators, she and Assemblywoman Parnell have the ability to pursue additional BDRs. 

 

Michael Fitzgerald

 

Senator Wiener made a suggestion that the Commission recommend to mandate that school counselors include in their Continuing Education Units a class that encompasses risk factor identification and asset building.  She requested Michael Fitzgerald, Coordinator, Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities, Nevada’s Department of Education, to provide the Commission with information regarding the asset-building model.  Mr. Fitzgerald responded by explaining that currently, the Department of Education is attempting to transition from prevention education to asset building.  This change is due to the fact that it is impossible to track nonoccurring events; however, it is possible to measure an increase in each individual student’s assets.  Consequently, the Department is reviewing the current activities and programs, measuring students’ assets, and developing a method for tracking events.  This is a method that will be utilized to report change.  The programs are being offered to the community, counselors, students, and teachers and the asset-building process is growing statewide.

 

Senator Wiener recommended that Kevin Nielsen consider integrating asset building in the Family-School-Community Partnership Program.

 


Jane Kadoich

 

Jane Kadoich, Assistant Director, Clark County School District Guidance Program, explained that the Clark County School District offers programs, which are similar to those described by Mr. Welsh of Washoe County.  Ms. Kadoich explained her frustration regarding the discussion of intervention and prevention because there is not a foolproof program available.  She expressed her interest in obtaining a profile of successful programs.

 

Regarding elementary school counselors, she explained that the Clark County School Board has been diligent in redirecting funds for their maintenance and implementation.  She asserted that providing early intervention is the best use of funds.  She encouraged the Commission to make a recommendation to request special funding for elementary counseling positions.

 

Responding to Assemblywoman Parnell’s inquiry as to the role of school nurses, Ms. Kadoich explained that there is collaboration between counselors and nurses.  At the elementary level the two groups address child abuse and neglect issues and pregnancy is discussed at the secondary level. 

 

Concerning the previously addressed parenting programs, Ms. Kadoich applauded the efforts of the Las Vegas Family Court system and explained that the Clark County School District uses their programs as a resource.

 

In conclusion, Ms. Kadoich expressed that in light of the current expectations and roles schools play in society, the need for more manpower is the key to implementation and success of school programs.  Further, she encouraged the Commission to consider the academic standards and curriculum when making recommendations for curriculum-based school violence prevention programs.  Extending the length of the school day was one suggestion.

 

Phil Gervasi

 

Phil Gervasi, Clark County School District Police Department and representative for the Police Officers’ Association, spoke regarding mandatory reporting of criminal activity committed on school grounds and violence committed against school district employees.  He opined that these incidents are largely unreported and legislation must be enacted to mandate reporting of an incident within 24 hours of occurrence.  Penalties for those persons who attempt to circumvent the law by not reporting must also be established.  He asserted that if school violence is to stop, total support from all parties is necessary.

 

Ms. Radich spoke in support of such legislation.

 

Mr. Fitzgerald explained that one must question the accuracy of information contained in a school’s annual accountability report due to a lack of framework for comparison.  For example, a violation of the code of conduct may not be a criminal act and may go unreported.  He noted that schools with a seemingly high number of reported incidents many not necessarily have more than other schools; they are simply reporting every incident.

 

Mr. Swinney stressed the need for not only reporting incidents of school violence, but also the importance of disposition reporting.

 

Sidney J. Franklin

 

Sidney J. Franklin, Assistant Superintendent of the Division of Alternative Education, and formerly School Police Services, Clark County School District, explained that during the past ten years the Clark County School District has seen its school security force grow from a 24‑member security guard team to a 130-member police force.  This transition was a long process because it is difficult to change traditional attitudes, and educators and principals were against the idea.  However, currently schools are providing services that they were not originally intended to provide. 

 

Turning to alternative education, Mr. Franklin explained it offers an opportunity for a student to demonstrate that he or she is deserving of being transitioned back to a traditional academic setting.  Counties that do not provide alternative education are working to offer such programs.  Responding to Senator Wiener’s question, he informed the Commission that students at the Center for Independent Living are able to graduate with a high school diploma, an adult standard diploma, or a general education diploma.  In response to the query of Ms. Radich, Mr. Franklin informed the Commission that the district has not experienced alternative school overcrowding in the past two years because of an evening program and the new opportunity school.  Further, plans are in progress to build an alternative middle school.

 

 

 

DISCUSSION OF FUTURE MEETING DATES AND TOPICS

 

Senator Wiener stated that the next meeting would be held in Las Vegas on April 12, 2000, at 9:30 a.m. with videoconference to Carson City.  The meeting will include the school safety stakeholders and the Commission will begin to address legislative recommendations.

 

The Commission’s final meeting and work session is scheduled for May 24, 2000, at 9:30 a.m. in Carson City with videoconference to Las Vegas.  At this meeting, the Commission’s recommendations to the 2001 Legislature will be finalized.


ADJOURNMENT

 

There being no further business to come before the Commission, the meeting was adjourned at 3:20 p.m.

 

                                                                   Respectfully submitted,

 

 

 

                                                                   Christine Kuhl

                                                                   Senior Research Secretary

 

 

 

                                                                   Juliann K. Jenson

                                                                   Senior Research Analyst

 

APPROVED BY:

 

 

_______________________________                   

Senator Valerie Wiener, Chairwoman

 

Date:  _________________________


LIST OF EXHIBITS

 


Exhibit A, provided by Julie Thomerson, Policy Associate, Children and Families Program, National Conference of State Legislatures, consists of the following nine documents:

 

1.       Excerpt, U.S. Dept. of Justice, OJJDP “Promising Strategies to Reduce Gun Violence” (1999);

 

2.       National Conference of State Legislatures:  Member’s Guide;

 

3.       State Legislatures, February 2000;

 

4.                  Select School Safety Enactments (1994-1999);

 

5.                  Juvenile Record Sharing, Schools and Juvenile Justice Agencies Select State Legislative Enactments: 1994-1999;

 

6.                  School Violence, 10 Things Legislators Need to Know;

 

7.                  School Safety on the Forefront:  State Legislative Approaches;

 

8.                  Comprehensive Juvenile Justice, A Legislator’s Guide; and

 

9.       San Diego County Comprehensive Strategy for Youth, Family and Community, Fall 1998.

 

Exhibit B, provided by Jane Grady, Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence, University of Colorado at Boulder, consists of the following document and videotape:

 

1.                  Packet titled Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence; and

 

2.       Videotape titled “Blueprints for Violence Prevention.”

 

Exhibit C, provided by Geraldine Harge, Nye County School District Superintendent, is a packet titled Nye County School District.

 

Exhibit D, provided by Kevin Nielsen, Program Director, Family-School-Community Partnership Program, Clark County Education Association, consists of an information packet and videotape titled “Public Agenda - School Safety.”

 

Exhibit E, provided by Jim Welsh, Washoe County School District Deputy Superintendent, is a document dated July 1999, regarding School Violence Preparedness.

 

Exhibit F, provided by Juliann Jenson, Senior Research Analyst, Research Division, Legislative Counsel Bureau, is an excerpt from a publication titled Public Safety, January 31, 2000.

 

Exhibit G is the “Attendance Record” for this meeting.

 

Copies of the materials distributed in the meeting and videotapes viewed are on file in the Research Library of the Legislative Counsel Bureau, Carson City, Nevada.  You may contact the library at (775) 684-6827.