RIGHT TO KNOW: Your child comes home and tells you about a fight on his high school campus that afternoon — and you want to know what happened.
Fortunately, you don’t have to rely on rumors to learn about fights and school violence. Arizona law states that parents have a right to know what is going on in the hallways of their child’s school.
STEPS TO FIND OUT ABOUT A SPECIFIC INCIDENT:
• Call your principal.
• Call the school district’s public information officer:
• Scottsdale Unified School District: Keith Sterling, (480) 484-6111
• Paradise Valley Unified School District: Judi Willis, (602) 867-5140
• Cave Creek Unified School District: Nedda Shafir, (480) 575-2063
• Call the Scottsdale Police Department and ask a public information officer, (480) 312-5000
• You can also file a public records request to view the police report regarding the incident. Police may take out some specific information, such as the names of children involved. Reports are free to view, but copies cost $5.
HOW TO FILE A PUBLIC RECORDS REQUEST: In Scottsdale, you can e-mail your request to police Sgt. Mark Clark and detective Sam Bailey at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Write that, according to the provisions of the Arizona Public Records Law, you want to inspect a public record. Then, list the date, location and any other specific information you can provide regarding the incident.
JUST HOW SAFE IS IT? Ken Trump, president of National School Safety and Security Services, a private consulting firm, suggested parents go one step further and talk with school officials about the security measures they have in place.
“There are a number of questions to ask,” Trump said. “Parents need to make sure that schools not only have safety teams and crisis plans on paper, but more so that the teams are trained (and) that they meet regularly.”
Parents can find tips on his Web site at www.schoolsecurity.org/faq/parents.html
ONE TOOL TO USE: Each year, schools must submit Safe and Drug-Free Schools reports to the Arizona Department of Education by the end of June. The report is available from your school. But, state officials said the standards for reporting the incidents can vary greatly from one school to another, so the reports should not be the only tool used to evaluate school safety.