Janesville72°

School district expels two for roles in gang fighting

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
March 24, 2010
— Participating in a gang fight was the reason given for expelling two Janesville high school students this week.

One student was accused of participating in the fight. The other was accused of being a lookout.


The one accused of fighting is expelled through the end of the 2010-11 school year. The lookout is expelled through his or her 21st birthday, which means the student can never return to high school.


Superintendent Karen Schulte said three or four students were involved in the incident. The opposing groups had "ongoing issues" with each other, and school authorities had been monitoring the conflict for about two years.


Others involved were sent to the pre-expulsion process but weren't expelled. Much depends on circumstances and previous trouble, Schulte noted.


Schulte deferred to the police department a question about whether gang activity in the schools is rising or falling.


A police report for the past three years shows an uptick in gang activity citywide in 2008, with about 250 gang-related incidents. That number declined to 140 in 2009. The reports do not differentiate between juvenile and adult gang activity.


The report lists 59 gang-related incidents in or on the grounds of Janesville public schools over the past three years. Franklin Middle School accounted for 32 of those incidents. Parker High School had 11, Edison Middle School nine, Marshall Middle School five and Craig High School two.


Of the gang incidents at schools, six were in 2007, 30 in 2008 and 23 in 2009.


Gazette records show at least four gang-related expulsions since February 2008. All four were middle school students.


Also, a 17-year-old was arrested and charged in August 2008 with party to burglary, misdemeanor theft and criminal damage after a break-in at Craig High School. Gang graffiti had been scrawled on walls.


The Gazette has no record of gang-related expulsions in 2006 or 2007, although the district never gives full details of expulsion incidents.


The school board in November 2008 outlawed gang clothing, hand signs and any other expression of gang affiliation on school grounds and at school functions.


ALSO EXPELLED

The Janesville School Board also expelled two other students Tuesday:


-- A high school student accused of possessing marijuana on school grounds, expelled through his or her 21st birthday but could earn reinstatement in September by getting a drug/alcohol assessment and counseling, working toward graduation, taking prescribed medicines and complying with terms of his or her probation.


If reinstated, this student would have to comply with unannounced drug tests and searches of his/her person, belongings and locker for drugs, among other conditions.


-- A middle school student accused of bringing a knife to school, expelled through the first semester of the 2010-11 school year. He or she could earn early reinstatement in September if he/she enrolls in counseling that includes treatment for anger/bullying, taking prescribed medications, complying with conditions of any probation imposed by the court and enrolling in the TAGOS charter school or the Truancy Abatement and Transitional Education program, if an opening exists.


If reinstated, this student would have to comply with searches of his/her person, locker and possessions for weapons, among other conditions.


This brings to 18 the number of students expelled this school year, compared with 24 at this time last year.



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