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13 Investigates: Is violence on the rise in Las Vegas schools?

CCSD Police
Posted at 4:44 PM, Mar 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-09 22:12:35-05

A number of recent violent incidents at Clark County schools — some caught on camera — is prompting officials in the nation's fifth-largest school district to take up the problem of school violence.

The CCSD Board of Trustees will begin tackling the topic at Thursday's meeting.

13 Investigates has been collecting and analyzing the data they'll rely on. Here's what we've discovered about the types of crime being committed on campus and the weapons students are bringing onto school grounds.

We began reporting on school violence with an exclusive investigation in late 2018, just four months after Dr. Jesus Jara took over as superintendent. We've discovered little has changed, and students appear to be even more emboldened to act out.

SCHOOL SAFETY: Concerns over violence in the Clark County School District

13 Investigates: Violence in CCSD (2018)

Recently, jarring video circulated online, showing one female student brutally beating another in a Las Vegas High School classroom on Feb. 2. A room full of students looks on, one of them filming the whole thing.

Weeks later, a Cheyenne High School student attacked a teacher in a classroom.

Those are just two of the recently publicized incidents in Clark County schools that paint a disturbing picture — one the district seems to have been battling unsuccessfully for years.

"Last year, I had two police officers that were hospitalized due to student violence. I had two assistant principals that were hospitalized with permanent injuries due to student violence," El Dorado High School Principal Dave Wilson told 13 Investigates in October of 2018.

PREVIOUS: What can be done to prevent violence in CCSD schools?

At the time, Wilson said brawls and assaults on staff were an ongoing security threat.

"We're working and trying to address that to minimize what you're talking about with the fights," Superintendent Jara said at the time. "It's a multi-pronged approach that is on the top of my list."

Three-and-a-half years later, it's unclear what's been done to minimize school violence.

13 Investigates examined school police calls-for-service for this school year, starting a week before the first day of classes in August 2021, through Feb. 9, 2022.

In that time span, which includes about 115 actual school days, there were 5,350 calls for school district police.

The type of calls included 2,352 reports of harassment or threat and 1,416 fights,1,358 calls for assault or battery, 66 reports of sexual assault and 26 shootings.

MORE: Clark County School District reports 5K+ violent incidents in current school year

"It gets into a culture," Jara explained to 13 Invesigates back in 2018. "How do you help principals and what support can we provide to really find a way to change that culture to more of an academic culture where kids feel that they feel valued?"

Teachers at Basic High School who we spoke to on condition of anonymity say their school is an example of how that's failed. We're told multiple students ditch class for hours, congregating on campus basketball courts without consequence — a stark contrast to what Jara talked about in 2018.

"Number one: discipline," he said. "Provide the appropriate discipline, because I want my children, my students to feel safe to learn. And then also our employees feel safe."

When there is discipline for something like vaping in class, we were told it often boils down to a time-out or short in-school suspension before troubled students are simply sent back to class.

It's a concept called "restorative justice." Teachers say the justice part is lacking.

Our investigation found that of those more than 5,300 calls for service to school police, there were 111 arrests and 585 criminal citations.

As for where the most problems are occurring this year, Shadow Ridge High School, in the very northern tip of the valley, had the most calls for service, with 125.

That's followed by Silvestri Middle School, on the opposite side of the valley with 94.

Chaparral High on the east side is third, with 90 calls.

A total of 183 weapons have been found on school grounds from the first day of school through mid-February. That includes 101 knives and 40 guns. Twenty-one of those firearms were BB guns.

Compare that to the entire pre-pandemic school year of 2018-19, when 57 guns were found, 34 of which were BB guns. The district didn't provide numbers for knives and other weapons confiscated in that pre-pandemic school year.

We asked the district if a shortage of school police officers or campus security monitors is contributing to the problems. We also asked what new plans Dr. Jara and the trustees have to curb school violence. We are still awaiting answers and hoping they'll start coming in Thursday's board meeting.

Resources for students and parents:

  • SafeVoice is an app that allows students or parents to report violence or safety threats anonymously.
  • The CCSD Police Department operates a tip line that is available 24/7 at 702-799-0228
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