No ?persistently dangerous schools' identified

By Greg Gelpi

No schools in the state have been identified as "persistently dangerous schools," according to the state Department of Education.

That's not a surprise to Clayton County's School Resource Officer Commander Greg Porter.

"From a Clayton County Police Department School Resource Officer standpoint, I think that is a good thing," he said. "It shows we're being proactive."

Porter said that school resource officers in middle and high schools throughout the system have developed a network with the community and are proactive in protecting the students.

In fact, two Clayton County police officers were honored as national school resource officers of the year for their actions in uncovering and preventing a plot to kill countless students at Lovejoy High School, Porter said. Clayton County Police officers Barry Davis and Mitch Kincaid were recognized by the National Association of School Resource Officers at its national convention last month.

A student alerted officers that a classmate was plotting to turn the school into another Columbine in September, but prevented the attack by informing police.

Porter said he tells his officers to handle problems immediately, rather than letting them fester.

"We turn over every stone and make sure all avenues are covered from a security-conscious standpoint," he said. "We can't take all of the credit. We have to give credit to the education system and the juvenile courts. The support has come from the schools and the county and the parents. Everyone is working together."

The Clayton County school system reported to the state that there were no violent crimes in the system in 2003. The system did report, though, 44 felony weapons cases, 11 cases of non-felony drugs, 19 cases of felony drugs and seven cases of terroristic threats.

"Most official statistics show that rates of school violence have steadily decreased since 1993," the U.S. Secret Service Threat Assessment Center reports. "As reports from the U.S. Department of Education and others have shown, a school is one of the safest places for our nation's children."

"Persistently dangerous schools" are defined by the Unsafe School Choice Option as required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

The state identifies a school as persistently dangerous if during three consecutive years: at least one student is found to have committed a violent criminal act; at least 2 percent or 10 students, whichever is greater, violated school rules involving non-felony drugs, felony drugs, felony weapons and terroristic threats; or any combination of the two categories.

"Nothing is more important than the safety of Georgia's children n especially in school n and we will continue to work with local school systems to ensure a safe learning environment for all students," Chief Deputy State Superintendent of Schools Stuart Bennett stated.