The Mesa Unified School District is cracking down on a recent rise in school gang activity. School officials want to expand the district’s current gang policy to hold sway outside of school hallways.
If one student threatens another student anywhere, and the threat spills over and affects the classroom, the district will punish the bully, explained district General Counsel Tom Pickrell.
“We have had incidents at bus stops, so we’re making it abundantly clear for gangsters who are trying to carry out their improper activity on buses, at bus stops and other school events, that we will not tolerate it,” Pickrell said. The major change to the policy, though, states that threats made off-campus — even over cyberspace — can get a student suspended or expelled.
“We’re starting to see more activity occurring on myspace and the other social networking sites. And sometimes, the exchange of threats is happening between two students, saying ‘I’m gonna get you at school tomorrow’” Pickrell said. “We felt like we should make it clear the sort of activity prohibited...It doesn’t matter if it happens on campus or off campus.”
The district will introduce the revised policy during the governing board meeting 7 p.m. today at the Curriculum Services Center, 549 N. Stapley Drive.
School officials are also working with the Mesa Police Department to better identify gang members.
“A number of our school resource officers are on that (gang) task force and they’ve been very helpful. They really do have their finger on the pulse of what’s going on with these gangs, so we look to them as experts we can turn to,” he said.
The officers not only tell faculty what gang signs to look for, but also testify against gang members in disciplinary hearings.