Saturday, March 8, 2014

Analysis Shows Ranking Follows a Multi-Year Trend of Elevated Violence and Vandalism in the Hoboken School District When Compared to Hudson County and State Rates Under Kids First/Carter/Toback Leadership

Original A&P- from Hoboken Historical Museum Archives 

9 Most Violent School Districts in New Jersey

Posted by  (Editor) , 
The New Jersey Department of Education on Thursday released its annual Violence, Vandalism and Substance Abuse in the Schools Report for 2012-2013.
The report documents self-reported incidents of violence in each district. Overall, the total number of incidents (violence, bullying, etc.) in New Jersey schools plummeted by 19 percent from the previous year, led by a 36 percent drop in the number of bullying incidents reported.
Overall violence in New Jersey schools was down 4 percent year-over-year.
While school districts in cities such as Newark and Camden led the way in total number of incidents, there were many districts that had a higher ratio of incidents of violence. Camden, for instance, reported 163 incidents of violence — in a district of 12,608 students.
But Lakewood, in Ocean County, reported 145 incidents of violence in a district with more than 7,000 fewer students. So we decided to take a look at the report in the context of how many students attend school in each of the districts, and construct a list of the districts with the highest ratio of incidents of violence per student.
A few caveats: We only included districts with more than 500 students that also have a high school. We also omitted charter schools and special services districts. And remember, this data is self-reported by the districts, and does not differentiate based on the severity of the incident. Oh, and why nine? We placed the cutoff for inclusion at a ratio of .020.
And for comparison, there were 7,895 incidents of violence among New Jersey’s 1,369,554 students, a ratio of .005.

COMMENTARY: Some posters from Hoboken have disregarded the #9 ranking claiming methodological issues or errors in sampling, under reporting or even ill-intent. I cannot speak to any of these issues but to the best of my knowledge, no district has been cited by the State of New Jersey for "under reporting." I can offer a comparison of the average incidents in the Hoboken Public Schools (measured in incidents per 100 students) compared to Hudson County (the county in which Hoboken resides) and the State of New Jersey averages (see graphic below). The reader is left to make their own decisions and conclusions. CLICK HERE to read an earlier post on violence and vandalism rates.


COMMENTARY (cont.): The previous 3 years worth of data (2009-10, 2010-11, 2011-12) makes it clear that the 2012-2013 ranking of the Hoboken School District as New Jersey's 9th Most Violent School District is not necessarily inconsistent with previous data or should have come as much of a surprise. Additionally, the three year trend triangulates the findings of's analysis by using a different rubric (incidents per 100 students). 

n.b. : An interesting series of comments were posted in response to this post (see end of this blog).'s ranking:
Ranking) District, County (# of students, Incidents of Violence, Ratio)

State of New Jersey (1,369,554; 7895; .005)

1) Wildwood City Cape May County (852, 24, .0282)
2) Lakewood Township, Ocean County (5186, 145, .0280)
3) Willingboro Township, Burlington County (3952, 108, .0273)
4) Camden County Vocational (2158, 55, .0255)
5) High Point Regional, Sussex County (1005, 25, .0249)
6) Palmyra Borough, Burlington County (965, 23, .0238)
7) Florence Township, Burlington County (1593, 37, .0232)
8) Burlington County Vocational (2100, 48, .0229)
9) Hoboken, Hudson County (1706, 36, .0211)

Outofcontrol December 07, 2013 at 04:11 AM
Way to go, Kids First! You finally made the top 10.
Grafix Avenger December 09, 2013 at 10:42 AM
Shame on Patch for publishing a poll 'cooked' to damage the Hoboken Public School District- the 'REAL' results using all (not selective) NJDOE data:
Tom Troncone (Editor) December 09, 2013 at 03:54 PM
Holy cow, you guys... GA, The report was released by the state last week. I thought it would be interesting to take the column "incidents of violence" and apply the same methodology one might use with crime stats. In other words, if a town has 30 assaults and 10,000 people, and another town has 300 assaults and 100,000 people, the rate of assaults is higher in the first district. It's the same concept. And the caveats? I had to have at least a certain number of students in a district for the numbers to mean anything. Some districts have 80 kids. Having 2 incidents of violence could skewer the whole thing. Same with charter schools. I would argue that the only column that makes sense to use in this is the "violence" one because violence could include the other categories, something could be bullying AND violence, thereby meaning any other methodology could count incidents twice. I make tons of these lists. Do you think I really sat down and said "okay, let's see, how can I make a list on school violence that makes 1 of the 240 towns my people cover look bad?" No. We published another list today on total instances of bullying. Hoboken is not on that list. You can put away the tinfoil.
Grafix Avenger December 09, 2013 at 04:40 PM
You thought it was "interesting"? Interesting to call a school district one of the most violent in the state? That is the HEIGHT of reckless and irresponsible journalism with real consequences. My 6th grader told me at pick-up today, a boy in her class said his father wants to pull him out of public school because the high school is the "9th most dangerous". Thank you, Mr. Troncone. You are incredibly irresponsible and your attitude shows you don't understand the consequences to families when you call their schools "violent". No, the tin foil belongs over your keyboard. I am not going to argue with you because you'll justify your arbitrary data harvesting, that you think is "interesting" while families are going to be afraid to use the schools. No charters? Do you make tons of lists. So do I. But I don't equate groceries and/or things which impact myself with those which impact families. Do you think in this day and age of school shootings, etc. that calling a district "violent" does not have consequences? Incredibly reckless. The poll on my blog is at least 'fair', and lumps all incidents together because there is an overlap that cannot be distinguished on a spreadsheet. A bully can have a weapon, or a drugs can cause violence and/or vandalism. The number of kids in the district is irrelevant if your child is the victim of an incident. You've done harm, but to you it's "interesting".
Tom Troncone (Editor) December 09, 2013 at 05:13 PM
I'm sorry if you don't like the fact that there were 36 incidents of violence in Hoboken schools last year which, for a student body of 1,706 kids, is actually quite a bit. In fact, that ratio -- the same method used for crime stats I'll add -- was the 9th most in the state for districts with student bodies of more than 500. That is an absolute and irrefutable fact. When you do crime stats, you end up with a "Total Violent Crime Index" or something similar. You wouldn't include people who were caught with drugs, or people caught carrying a knife, in violent crime stats, right? Only if they used the knife and, at that point, it would move to the "violence" category. I looked at the data completely impartially. It is YOU who have created an alternative construct that manipulates the data by including data that would not fall under the definition of violence. It's a simple category: Incidents of Violence in School Districts. I know I can't win this argument with you, so I'm just going to accept that we disagree. I'd argue that shining a light on this is a public service and might actually do some good, but I know you won't see that side of it.
QJ201 December 09, 2013 at 06:14 PM
Mr Troncone you simply misrepresented the facts and got a hit generating headline out of it. Inferring that your critic is wearing a "tinfoil hat" is not a valid counterargument. However, there is ample evidence over the past year that Hoboken Patch has been manipulated or willingly posted stories to serve political agendas. AND for the statistically challenged....these are simply "descriptive statistics" these data were not analyzed using "inferential statistics" that are used to show "significant associations." Claiming that some districts aren't large enough to include is a presumption (or requirement) made for inferential statistics (e.g., cell sizes, sample sizes, effect sizes) and not descriptive statistics, so not a valid argument to use to defend your reporting of the data.
Grafix Avenger December 09, 2013 at 06:51 PM
Well, Troncone should be happy to know his "9th Most Violent" indictment of Hoboken's School District was the talk of Hoboken High School kids today, so I hear from a friend's son. And a kid in my daughter's class was talking about how his dad is going to pull him out because our district is one of the most "violent" in the state. Troncone's attempts to justify his incredibly irresponsible and harmful piece to the Hoboken district are ridiculous. I didn't hear why Charters were excluded. Now parents are citing this garbage and fearful of staying in the district. Nice job. Troncone's arbitrary choices and false conclusions will effect families all over our district. My kid is in public school. Mr. Troncone, how dare you trivialize my concerns with that "tin foil" crack. Patch should retract this crap, though the damage is done.
Tom Troncone (Editor) December 09, 2013 at 07:25 PM
For the record, 'tin foil' was in reference to commenters on the GA blog, who insist we were 'fed' the report and have a political agenda. We don't.
Shorty December 09, 2013 at 07:52 PM
Why didn't you list charters? Why would you omit districts with high schools? Don't you think it would interest parents if elementary and middle schools had a high violence rating? Why are the other schools' photos have vague pictures of their school districts? Really? You couldn't find a photo of Florence Twp schools other than at 20,000 feet? Other districts blocked by trees and water? Really? Hoboken High is front and center. You've been played. That's some lazy 'journalism' there.
Shorty December 09, 2013 at 07:53 PM
that's without high schools...

Shorty December 09, 2013 at 07:52 PM
Why didn't you list charters? Why would you omit districts with high schools? Don't you think it would interest parents if elementary and middle schools had a high violence rating? Why are the other schools' photos have vague pictures of their school districts? Really? You couldn't find a photo of Florence Twp schools other than at 20,000 feet? Other districts blocked by trees and water? Really? Hoboken High is front and center. You've been played. That's some lazy 'journalism' there.
Bokenlvr December 18, 2013 at 11:22 AM
Tom Troncone - this guy is certainly not a good, even passable, journalist - tom the numbers can be used to show anything anybody on either side of any issue wants to show - still wet behind the ears or just really have a problem with hoboken BOE schools - which is it? all they have to do is choose the ones with the biggest punch - you want internet hits on your "reporting" at a huge cost to real people - the town suffers because of your inaccurate piece - you are no journalist - you're a hack, pal. sorry but its disgraceful - you need real insight into the issue - please do some research
Mickey Brandt December 29, 2013 at 08:28 PM
I'm not even an observer of Hoboken civic issues, I'm quite removed. I am versed in journalism issues, though, and recognize the achievement of generating such passionate interest with news analysis. Congratulations to Patch on this. I see little need to defend it.
Hoboken Education Association December 30, 2013 at 06:57 PM
This report and even addressing it is reckless and irresponsible. This report is a slap in the face to every student, parent, and teacher of the Hoboken public schools. The issue here is some creative reporting by other school districts. You are telling me that the Hoboken public schools are more violent and dangerous than Jersey City or Newark public schools? That is not the case. The issue here is the other school districts do not report incidents. We in the Hoboken public school system have honesty and integrity and that is why we report every incident. The issue is is that the report is absurd to begin with. If a student damages a textbook by definition that is vandalism and makes its way onto the report. According to the state report a simple act of textbook damage (vandalism) has the same weight as a school brawl. As a teacher in the Hoboken public schools I can tell you this, I have never, not once feared for the safety of myself or my students. They are rarely incidents of violence and Hoboken public schools. Our school district is not like any other school district in the entire nation. Kids will disagree and have misunderstandings, just like everyone of you when you went to school. If you look at the list of the schools and/or their districts it is absurd. Again, I have to mention there is no mention of the Newark public schools, Camden public schools, or Jersey City public schools. School districts are usually indicative of the community that they are apart of. Those cities are three of the highest crime rates in the state and not one of their schools made the list? Hmmmm. I find that curious.
melina white January 11, 2014 at 04:26 AM
Tom T - you can't present irrefutable facts to those living in an alternative reality. Hoboken will find a to smear your name and take you to court using tax payer dollars. Call the town the best place to flirt, or the best small town, best for small dogs etc and you'll be in their good graces.
melina white January 11, 2014 at 04:32 AM
QJ201- I am hardly mathematically, scientifically or philosophically challenged and I don't see any misrepresentation here. Commenters are making inferences that cannot be drawn from the article.
melina white January 11, 2014 at 04:33 AM
GA that's right cooked info should only be used when wanting to make the district appear shinning.
melina white January 11, 2014 at 04:43 AM
Why not just take the numbers and suggestion from the NJ Commissioner of Education and make some improvements?
Edazare January 29, 2014 at 06:16 PM
In her 8th year in the district, my daughter has never seen or heard anything resembling violence or danger. If you asked her about violence, she would be baffled by the question. Her Hoboken Public School experience has been full of kindness and respect, while learning from hard working, well-educated, and caring teachers. Parents have nothing to fear - any more than they would anywhere else.