Gangs in Schools Task Force Report to the Legislature
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Gangs in Schools Task Force Report to the Legislature

These reports reflect the findings and recommendations of the Gangs in Schools Task Force, managed by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. The task force operates independently to meet the legislated objectives. The contents of this reports are the product of the task force, and do not necessarily reflect the official position of OSPI or the agencies or organizations of the task force members. Earlier finds are summarized below.

Download the Report

  • 2011 (PDF, 15 pages)
  • 2010 (PDF, 48 pages)
  • 2009 (PDF, 60 pages)
  • 2008 (PDF, 88 pages)

A Summary of the 2011 Gangs in Schools Task Force Report to the Legislature

In response to the mandates of 2007 SSB 5097, the 2011 Gangs in Schools Task Force is submitting this report to the Washington State Legislature. The Gangs in Schools Task Force is committed to creating safe, civil, gang-free schools. This report on its efforts will be brief and direct. Rather than review the recommendations found in its previous reports, below, the 2011 current report will focus on the Task Force work plan for 2012, a plan based on lessons learned, and the changing realities of gang activity in schools.

In the current environment, there is no funding committed to the work of the Task Force; however, the Task Force is committed to the work. The members have looked back over previous years, earlier recommendations and at current realities. In 2011, “gangs” and school related “gang activity” cannot be looked at as separate, stand-alone concerns. They are very much a part of school climate and safety, student health, academic achievement data, dropout prevention and re-entry, and community safety and involvement in schools. There is a lot of data and information which resides in very diverse organizations and agencies. Much of the information and data may appear to be unrelated to the problems associated with gang activity in schools; however, it is not. It is critically important that diverse organizations and agencies communicate and share the information which they have. To do so, common vocabulary and understandings are fundamental.

Suppression efforts do not work when approached in isolation. Prevention, intervention, suppression, mitigation and re-entry efforts are all integral to the work. These efforts are the work of those agencies and organizations suggested above. To ensure that the various agencies and community components are able to effectively work together, common vocabulary and understandings are, again, fundamental.

The Internet has also changed the face of gang activity. It has provided a forum for communication, threats, harassment, recruitment and other related activities. It also provides a medium of information gathering for law enforcement, social service and educational entities in their prevention, intervention, suppression, and mitigation efforts, as well as a vehicle for training dissemination.

In the midst of all this, there is good news. There are positive signs that local efforts are being successful in their efforts to reduce youth gang involvement and criminal gang activity. With these and other realities at work, the Gangs in Schools Task Force has committed itself to focusing on three interrelated areas for 2012. These three areas include data and information gathering, policy guidance, and training and professional development. The overarching goal of Task Force efforts is to have a collective impact. In this context, that means creation of an integrated system of communication, a vehicle for data and information sharing, a set of guidelines for local districts, schools and communities to create policies and processes to address their particular issues, and a variety of training options, built around common vocabulary, understandings and approaches, to help communities achieve their goals for safe, secure schools and communities.

Previous findings:

  • Gang activity is on the rise in Washington schools and communities.
  • The presence of gang activity in the vicinity of schools poses a risk to staff and student safety and school security.
  • Effective anti-gang initiatives require the elements of prevention, intervention, and suppression.
  • Intimidation of staff and students by gang members is one of the most significant impacts that gangs have on the educational environment and perception of school safety.
  • Schools do not have a uniform approach to addressing gang activity or gang-associated students.
  • Administrators, teachers, and other school staff lack current information on gangs, gang indicators, and gang activity.
  • Most schools and communities lack the resources to address gang issues.

Earlier Task force recommendations:

  • Revise the school definitions of "gang" and "gang activity"
  • Establish school safety zones in statute
  • Funding for grants for school-based gang prevention and intervention
  • Develop a dedicated apportionment for transition programs
  • Require school district policies to prevent gang activity
  • Funding for ongoing anti-gang training
  • Develop an information-sharing Web site

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