Kentucky school assaults against staff up in 2014-15, report says

Jon Akers, executive director of the Kentucky Center for School Safety.
Jon Akers, executive director of the Kentucky Center for School Safety.

The number of students charged with assaults in the third degree at Kentucky schools rose significantly in one year by 51.3 percent, according to an annual school safety report released Thursday.

“This is very troubling since assault in the third degree involves assaults against certified and classified personnel in the school system,” the 2014-15 School Safety Data Report on Law said. Classified staff includes bus drivers, custodians and support staff. Certified staff includes teachers and administrators.

The report showed that less than one percent of students in Kentucky committed a law violation in a school setting. However, there are several items that warrant close monitoring in the future in addition to the assaults, said Jon R. Akers, executive director of the Kentucky Center for School Safety.

Marijuana or hashish use and possession is the number one law violation for 2014-15 and accounted for 23.17 percent of all law violations. While this rate is consistent with previous years, the popularity of marijuana or hashish with teenagers is a major concern for all communities, the report said.

Alcohol use and possession rose significantly, more than 46 percent, compared to 2013-14. Although alcohol violations are still much lower than marijuana violations, further analysis of this rise is warranted by individual schools, the report said.

The largest number of law violations occurred with ninth-grade students, the report said. That key transition year is also reported as troublesome in studies of retention, failed subjects and attendance.

In 2014-15, 5,545 students committed 6,209 law violations.

Under state law, the Kentucky Center for School Safety analyzes all school board policy and law violations reported by each of Kentucky’s public schools each school year.

The report focuses solely on law violations committed by students enrolled in the state’s K-12 public schools.

The report showed in Fayette County Public Schools, which had nearly 40,000 students in 2014-15, a total of 302 students violated laws in 2014-15, compared with 250 students who violated laws in 2013-14.

“It is our hope that this data will provide school district officials with the information needed to review their disciplinary approaches and to continue to seek effective methods for addressing law violations,” Akers said.

Valarie Honeycutt Spears: 859-231-3409, @vhspears