Pennsylvania schools becoming safer

HARRISBURG, (PRNewswire) – According to a report released today by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, schools and playgrounds
are becoming safer places for children to learn and grow. Besides improvements in safety, the 2004-05 School Safety Report, for
the second year in a row, shows a decrease in reported assaults on students, as well as a drop in fights, burglaries, bullying and use of
firearms.

“While we are pleased that our schools are safer for the second consecutive year, we realize that we can never be too cautious when it
comes to our children,” said Education Secretary Dr. Gerald L. Zahorchak. “We will continue to make every effort to ensure that school environments remain safe for the students.”

The new School Safety Report, formerly the School Violence and Weapons Possession Report, includes additional data that was not historically
included in prior reports. Previous reports only included incidents required by state law under Act 26 of 1995. The new report also includes
incident summaries of student misconduct, fighting, and drug, alcohol and tobacco offenses, which were not covered under Act 26.

During the 2004-05 school year, public schools reported a total of 66,974 incidents, or 1,464 fewer incidents than were reported last year.
Additionally, 36,804 incidents of Act 26 violence and weapons possession were reported, which marks 3,634 fewer incidents from 2003-04.
The majority of Pennsylvania’s students attend schools that are safe. Less than 3 percent of students, statewide, were involved in incidents
reported to the Department of Education.

“These figures show a 4 percent decrease in the number of reported incidents, which can be attributed to the heightened efforts and focus of
our local school communities,” Secretary Zahorchak added. “We are pleased with this news, yet we can do much better, and we will continue to stress the importance of safety to our school administrators, teachers, faculty and students.”

School administrators are responsible for reporting incidents of violence and weapons possessions to the department. School district
superintendents, charter school administrators, and area vocational-technical schools and Intermediate Units’ executive directors
are charged with certifying the accuracy of the data.

The School Safety Report is a summary of data reported by the state’s 501 school districts, 29 IUs, 78 AVTs, and 109 charter schools. The report covers reported incidents that occurred in the state’s public schools between July 1, 2004, and June 30, 2005. The 2004-05 School Safety Report also includes the 2005-06 Persistently Dangerous Schools list, which is based upon these schools’ number of reported instances in either of the last two years.

For the complete School Safety Report, visit http://www.safeschools.state.pa.us. For information about the state Department of Education, visit http://www.pde.state.pa.us.

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