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More students in D-11 high schools, but crime rate stays level

January 11, 2014 Updated: January 11, 2014 at 6:15 pm
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Wasson High School was converted last fall from a high school to a center for non-traditional education. (The Gazette/Jerilee Bennett)

Despite high schools being fuller in Colorado Springs School District 11, crime and other security issues have not increased during the first four months of this school year compared to last year.

District officials want to keep it that way.

"It's been pretty consistent across the board," said assistant superintendent Robert Curran. "I don't think we're much different from any other local district."

To be proactive, D-11 this month will hire four additional security officers for its four traditional high school campuses, which already have four to six officers each.

The revamped Wasson campus, which was converted last fall from a high school to a center for non-traditional education, also has four to six security officers.

"District 11 takes security of students and staff to its highest priority," Curran said.

According to monthly reports The Gazette obtained through an open records request, campus security officers reported 262 incidents at the district's four traditional high schools and its new non-traditional Wasson campus from August through November of 2013, down from 293 from August through November of 2012.

The four traditional high schools - Coronado, Doherty, Mitchell and Palmer - all have more students this year because D-11 closed a fifth high school, Wasson, at the end of last school year under a restructuring plan. As a result of many of the displaced students moving to other district schools, Doherty, the largest with 2,094 students, is at 97 percent capacity this academic year and Palmer at 90 percent, with 1,997 students. Coronado, which has an enrollment of 1,506, is at 81 percent and Mitchell, with 1,248 students is at 63 percent capacity.

Enrollment at the Wasson campus has more than doubled from when it was a traditional high school. The Roy J. Wasson Academic Campus now has eight programs, including two free-standing alternative schools, the Nikola Tesla Equal Opportunity Center and The Bijou School, along with online education, night classes, special-needs classes, adult education and an early colleges track for high schoolers. About 1,815 students, from middle and high school students to adults, attend classes there daily, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Curran said.

Narcotics and searches topped the list of the most prevalent safety and security problems at high schools so far this school year, along with episodes of criminal mischief. Fights also were common, with 17 occurring over the four-month span, nine in November alone.

Weapons were found 13 times from August through November, with knives being the most prevalent. A BB gun and an inoperable shotgun turned up at Mitchell High School in both October and November. Someone brought fireworks to the Roy J. Wasson Academic Campus in November. And a robbery occurred in October in Wasson Park, adjacent to the school property. A student was beat up and told to give $10 to the assailant, according to the security report, and a fellow student was arrested in the case.

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