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Published: Wednesday, 7/10/2002

State to let students flee dangerous schools

Students attending Ohio schools - including charters - with more than two violent crimes per 100 students in each of two consecutive years would be allowed to transfer under a state policy adopted yesterday.

The state board of education, meeting in Toledo, adopted the "persistently dangerous" schools regulation to comply with requirements in the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

The Ohio Department of Education estimated 73 schools with grades six through 12 are likely to receive the designation in two years when it's in effect, said Donna Kagy, a department spokeswoman.

Ohio has nearly 3,800 public schools, including charter schools.

"If [a school] was declared persistently dangerous, any kid in that school could ask for a transfer out," Ms. Kagy said. "That has big implications."

Jane Bruss, a Toledo Public Schools spokeswoman, said she didn't know how many - if any - city schools in the past have had rates of violent crimes to meet the new threshold. Under the policy, the threshold of crimes committed was raised for schools with fewer than 300 students. If those schools - 905 in Ohio - had six violent crimes, they would be designated "persistently dangerous" and students could transfer, the board decided.

Similarly, schools with more than 1,350 students have a lower threshold of 27 crimes in an academic year.

"It's no longer a rate, it's an absolute number," said board President Jennifer Sheets.

Crimes will be counted if they occur on buses, in classroom buildings, or at school events.

In other business, the state board decided which indicators will be used on local district report cards in 2005 that measure student performance on statewide tests and other factors during the 2003-2004 school year.

Districts will be classified based on scores in third-grade reading; fourth, sixth and ninth-grade reading, writing, mathematics, social studies, and science; reading and mathematics on the new Ohio Graduation Test as well as graduation rate, attendance rate, and percentage of students tested.

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