By ERIC BURKETT
Despite rising statistics in much of the rest of California, violent crime rates in Tuolumne Countys public schools are falling. Thats the report from the California Department of Educations sixth annual Safe Schools Assessment.
At the same time, however, drug and alcohol offenses are on the rise in the county, but that may be misleading.
Communications are improving, said Dan White, Tuolumne County Superintendent of Schools, and the presence of community resource officers on the countys campuses means more kids are getting caught than before.
That has produced a situation in Tuolumne County where, while overall enrollment throughout the county has declined, drug and alcohol offenses are climbing.
Thats one area we want to be focused on, said White of the schools efforts to combat substance abuse.
The county schools office has been cooperating with law enforcement and individual school districts to place community resource officers in the schools.
Instead of looking at law enforcement as being this unknown it created a situation where they know the cop on the beat, White said.
But as funding continues to fall statewide for education, White said, school districts are going to have to pick up more of the costs.
At Sonora High School, for example, drug and alcohol offenses increased from 20 to 37 incidents over last school year, while Twain Harte-Long Barn Unified School District jumped from one to seven.
Such numbers should be interpreted carefully, however, said the reports authors.
Because the crime rates are so low to begin with, the percentage change can be dramatic from one year to the next.
After six years of collecting and reporting school crime data, we are seeing trends emerge, Delaine Eastin, state superintendent of public instruction, stated in a written statement last week. These trends indicate we have more work to do to improve the safety of all students.