Unsafe conditions at school are the issue that numerous lawsuits arise from. Children’s safety is the most valuable treasure for their parents, and in many cases, they find it necessary to protect it in courts. Thus, school leaders find themselves between two fires: on the one hand, they have to defend themselves in the court; on the other hand, they need to deal with problems that schools defined as the unsafe cause. No doubt, each school district would like to have several lawsuits arising from unsafe schools decreased.
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To outline the ways to decrease the number of lawsuits arising from unsafe schools, it is first necessary to brief conditions of recognizing schools as unsafe and dangerous. When some students are expelled for violence, offenses, and dangerous actions that exceed that provided by a statute, a school is included in a safety watch list. If a school does not manage to leave this list, it is recognized as persistently dangerous, which gives the grounds for transferring students out (Unsafe School Choice Option). Thus, many schools are assumed to “hide” their “troublemakers” and not expel them in order not to worsen the data of their reports (n.a.). This means that more cases of violence and offenses will take place, and more lawsuits will arise.
Thus, instead of disguising a problem, it is better to struggle against it. If school districts follow the policy that implies encouraging schools to react to existing problems and opportunely report on them, it will help to improve the situation in schools and lull parents’ concerns. The second step should be taken regarding schools that are already included in a safety watch list. School district leaders should also offer programs of collaboration with such schools.
First, it is necessary to encourage schools to report on their problems, as they are unwilling to do this due to the fear of becoming recognized as persistently dangerous; secondly, it is necessary to provide schools with assistance in coping with “troublemakers”.
The second direction of school districts’ work may be the improvement of cooperation with juvenile departments. In the case Promise and Fear described in (Merseth, 1997), the following situation is described: a juvenile officer Dottie Bauer comes to the school to get familiarized with the new principal Erica Suzman and to describe the cases that educators should be aware of, and during the conversation, it surfaced that one of the cases that Bauer has brought concerns one of Suzman’s students, Royal Collins; the principal has not been informed about the situation, but Bauer says that “it isn’t clear whose job” it is to inform the school about such cases (p.64).
This gap between a school and a department should not exist. The communicational chain “juvenile department – school – school district” should work “like a clock”. In this case, it would be easier to have the situation with schools’ “unsafety” and “dangerous” students under control.
At the same time, the measures described are general. However, each school district should operate considering tits concrete situation. Particularly, it may be reasonable for a school district to do analytical work on cases of lawsuits arising from unsafe schools: it is necessary to classify these cases and try to find some regularities. It may turn out that such regularities do exist and that a certain “systematic” problem takes place in the district. In this case, a school district will have to develop a program to eliminate this problem.
Merseth, K. K. (1997). Cases in Educational Administration. USA: Allyn & Bacon.
(n.a.). (2006). Two Local Schools on Safety Watch List. Mail Tribune. Web.
Unsafe School Choice Option. Ed.Gov. Web.