Local schools are no longer considered 'dangerous'

Eagle Point and Medford Opportunity high schools were among 13 schools statewide removed from the state's watch list for schools with a high ratio of student expulsions for drug, weapon or violence-related crimes.

The schools were added last year to the "persistently dangerous" watch list, which is maintained by the Oregon Department of Education under safety provisions of the Bush administration's No Child Left Behind Act. The change means no Jackson County schools are on the "dangerous" list.

"We actually didn't have any expulsions at Opportunity High School last year (2005-06)," said Doug Jantzi, Medford schools secondary education director. "There was a glitch in our computer system that coded the expulsions at North Medford High as being at Opportunity High School."

"We caught the mistake, but by that time, ODE had already published its data and didn't want to change it, so we had to live with it."

Officials at Eagle Point School District could not immediately be reached for comment.

However, last year, Eagle Point High School officials said they had enhanced security at the campus by adding a police officer, doubling camera surveillance and adding disciplinarians at the middle schools.

Schools join the watch list when they have one or more expulsions per 100 students for manufacture or delivery of drugs, weapon possession, violent behavior, assault and sexual crimes involving force. Once on the list, they must submit a plan to the state for improving safety.

The "persistently dangerous" label is given to schools that stay on the watch list for three consecutive years, and it means that students have the option of transferring to another school in the area with the school district paying for any associated transportation costs.

Only one school in the state — McKay High School in Salem — has been named "persistently dangerous" this year.

A dozen schools are on the watch list this year.

Some school officials have complained that the watch list is unfair to schools that accurately report the number of expulsions for violence and drug-related crimes as well as to small schools, where a few offenses can land a school on the list.

In 2005-06, five to six expulsions were attributed to Medford Opportunity that actually belonged to North Medford High School, Jantzi said. With about 230 pupils in the Medford Opportunity, five to six expulsions put the school on the watch list, he noted. North Medford by contrast has more than 1,800 pupils.

Other schools on the watch list are: North Salem High School, Salem-Keizer; Renaissance Arts Academy, Portland; Five Oaks Middle School, Beaverton; Pilot Butte Middle School, Bend-La Pine; Alliance High School, Portland; BizTech High School, Portland; Gregory Heights Middle School, Portland; Houck Middle School, Salem-Keizer; Judson Middle School, Salem-Keizer; Leslie Middle School, Salem-Keizer; Structured Learning Center, Salem-Keizer; Hidden Valley High School, Three Rivers-Josephine County.

Schools removed from the watch list are: Eagle Point High School; Medford Opportunity High School on the North Medford High School campus; Jefferson County Middle School; Brizner Junior High School, Klamath County; Chiloquin High School, Klamath County; Ontario High School, Ontario; Tubman Middle School, Portland; Parrish Middle School, Salem-Keizer; South Salem High School, Salem-Keizer; McNary High School, Salem-Keizer; Columbia County Education Campus, St. Helens; North Valley High School, Three Rivers-Josephine County; Illinois Valley High School, Three Rivers-Josephine County.

Reach reporter Paris Achen at 541-776-4459 or pachen@mailtribune.com.

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