What Dangerous Schools?

Published January 1, 2004

Under the No Child Left Behind Act, parents whose children are in “persistently dangerous” public schools are allowed to transfer their children to a safer learning environment at the district’s expense. With federal reports indicating 1 in 50 public school students are victims of violent crime at school, and 1 in 15 public school students saying they were afraid of being attacked or threatened at school, this transfer option might be expected to have great appeal to many parents.

However, the option isn’t available to most parents because state-level rules have classified fewer than 50 schools nationwide as having a “persistently dangerous” atmosphere, according to state reports filed last September. Only six states–Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Texas–have “persistently dangerous ” schools, with 28 in Pennsylvania alone.

The dangerous schools list is “a joke,” according to Kenneth S. Trump, president of the Cleveland-based National School Safety and Security Services. He’s concerned school administrators will under-report violence at their schools to avoid the stigma of appearing on the list.

“Parents are getting a very misleading message, which creates a false sense of security about the safety of their child’s school,” Trump told stateline.org reporter Pamela Prah.