Incidents Of School Violence, Vandalism Rose Last Year

Synthetic marijuana becoming more prevalent in the district, reports Assistant Superintendent Felice Harrison.

The number of incidents of violence and vandalism reported in Montclair schools in 2011-12 was up by about 19 percent compared to the previous six years. 

The district’s annual Violence and Vandalism Report was presented to the Board of Education at its Monday meeting by Assistant Superintendent Felice Harrison. 

According to the Harrison, there were 45 incidents reported last year in Montclair schools, which were committed by 37 students -- 22 general education students and 15 special education students. Repairing the damaged property and graffiti, among other things, cost the district $1,641, according to the report. 

The overall number of incidents last year is up from 31 in 2010-11. Between 2006 and 2011, the average number of incidents per year was about 38, with the highest reported number -- 51 -- in 2009-10.

While the number of incidents vacillates every year, Board member Norman Rosenblum suggested there appears to be “no clear pattern." 

“There’s not more violence or vandalism as we go between 2006 to 2012,” said Rosenblum. “It is sort of sporadic -- one year might be high, the next year might be low. There doesn’t seem to be any general trend.” 

Harrison agreed with Rosenblum, and said the reports of violence and vandalism each year was consistent rather than increasing. 

“I like to always think it’s getting better,” said Harrison. “I think we have always had in place our social-problem ... conflict resolutions ... and we’ve evolved to have our one school, one community, one district [goal].

“I just think there is a lot of things we are doing proactively to help youngsters understand appropriate behavior and expectations.” 

Synthetic Marijuana 

Synthetic marijuana is becoming more prevalent in Montclair schools, said Harrison. 

“We are finding that students are using more of the synthetic marijuana and it is a serious issue because it is not harmless,” said Harrison. 

In 2011-12, the district reported its highest number of drug related incidents, seven, in the past six years -- three of which involved synthetic marijuana, said Harrison. 

According to the New Jersey Consumer Affairs website, synthetic marijuana has been available since 2006, and is sold under the names K2, Spice, Black Mamba, Blaze and Red X Dawn. 

Synthetic marijuana is illegal in the state, and it is reported to be the third most abused drug by high school seniors, after marijuana and prescription drugs, according to the state. 

There will be a form to discuss marijuana and synthetic blends in the coming months, said Harrison.

“We do have some things in place,” said Harrison, “and we take this very seriously. I really wasn’t sure what synthetic marijuana was all about, but I know that it is something our kids are unfortunately getting ahold of and we need to address it as quickly as possible.” 

The Data

The following is the list of incidents reported in 2011-12. For the full report, listing incidents dating back to 2006-07 and a breakdown for incidents in each school, look in the photo gallery of this article. 


  • Simple assault: 3
  • Aggravated assault: 1
  • Criminal threat: 1
  • Extortion: 1
  • Harassment, intimidation and bullying: 4
  • Fights: 4
  • Threats: 3
  • Kidnapping: 0
  • Robbery: 0
  • Sex offense: 0 


  • Arson: 0
  • Bomb threat: 0
  • Burglary: 0
  • Damage to property: 12
  • Fake bomb: 0
  • Fire alarm offense: 0
  • Fireworks offense: 0
  • Theft: 2
  • Trespassing: 1


  • Weapon incidents: 6

Substance Abuse 

  • Use confirmed: 1
  • Possession: 7
  • Sale/distribution: 0

Total incidents: 45

Cost to district: $1,641

Jim Corcoran November 21, 2012 at 10:00 PM
A high school in Appleton, Wisconsin tried an experiment under the enlightened guidance of their principal, LuAnn Coenen. She wanted to see if she could positively affect the fighting, weapons-carrying and general lack of focus and discipline in the school by changing the food the kids ate. Vending machines were replaced with water coolers; hamburgers and French fries were taken off the menu and replaced with fresh vegetables and fruit, whole grain breads and a salad bar. With the departure of junk food, she also saw the departure of vandalism, litter and the need for police patrolling her hallways. The students were calm, socially engaged and focused on their schoolwork. Problems were minimal. And all Ms. Coenen did was change the menu! Please watch "Forks Over Knives" for FREE to learn more about the implications of a meat-based diet vs a plant-based diet. Go to http://www.hulu.com/watch/279734 and do yourself and your family a favor! & Dr. Antonia Demas conducted a pilot program for youthful offenders at Bay Point School, a controlled residence for select male juvenile delinquents. Incorporating the principles of her curriculum, Demas' results were astounding: Grade point averages increased, athletic performance and strength improved, aggressive behavior declined, acne cleared, excess weight came down, and every single one of the participants reported general improvements in well-being. http://foodstudies.org/
A. Gideon November 23, 2012 at 04:41 PM
Out of curiosity, did that school in Appleton have an "open campus" which permitted students to hunt down their own meals outside the cafeteria? ...Andrew
Acosta November 25, 2012 at 12:48 PM
Why does this report break down the incidents by "general education" vs "special education". Is there an agenda regarding special education? Isn't this a type of profiling? My kids don't even go to MHS and I take offense at this type of data slicing.
esther November 28, 2012 at 04:17 AM
You can't just stuff kids full of vegetables and expect them to have energy- and I am NOT talking about loading the kids up with sugar- high energy foods can be healthy like fish, nuts, and lean chicken. To tell you the truth I do not thing that changing food is a magical way to stop incidents. How about some consistent discipline, real consequences, and team building with students to promote pride in self and school? These programs which may exist in our schools need to be more broad-based and just for the select few. And for the record it is disturbing that the report separated special education students from regular education students. I, for one, do not see the reason for this. Love to hear the reason for that but won't get one.
esther November 28, 2012 at 04:18 AM
Good point- not to mention those who bring their own lunch and those who have no lunch at all............


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