No Child Left Behind: Persistently Dangerous Schools

Where You Need a Lawyer:

(This may not be the same place you live)

At No Cost! 

 What Is the No Child Left Behind Act?

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) introduced sweeping changes to public elementary and secondary education. Under NCLB, the federal government seeks to emphasize school success by using indexes to measure student achievement.

A portion of the No Child Left Behind Act permits students to transfer to another school if their current school is deemed “persistently dangerous.”

What Are the Goals of NCLB?

There are many goals of the No Child Left Behind Act, including:

  • Providing resources for early childhood education.
  • Each state is required to measure each student’s progress in reading and math each year during grades 3-8 and once during grades 10-12, as well as each student’s progress in science during grades 3-5, once during grades 6-9, and once during grades 10-12. State academic content and achievement standards must be aligned with these assessments.
  • States and districts must provide parents with school and district report cards. The report cards will show data on student achievement broken down into categories and information about the teachers’ professional qualifications.
  • Using federal funds to improve low-performing schools. Children can be transferred to higher-performing schools or receive supplemental educational services in the community if the school performs poorly.
  • Minimum Qualifications for teachers.
  • Giving school boards more flexibility and funding.

When Is a School Considered to Be Persistently Dangerous?

According to the No Child Left Behind Act, a school is persistently dangerous if it records at least two consecutive years of “serious incidents.”

“Serious incidents” in a school can include:

  • Homicides
  • Criminal offenses of a sexual nature
  • Possession or use of a weapon, including threats with a weapon
  • Other serious crimes such as arson, kidnapping, or child endangerment

In the event of a serious incident, the school will factor the incident into a ratio involving serious incidents to student enrollment. A score is assigned to each serious incident based on its severity. After adding up the scores for the serious incidents, the sum is divided by the school’s enrollment. The resulting figure is called the “school violence index.”

Persistently dangerous schools have a school violence index of 1.5 for at least two consecutive years. This index translates into about six incidents for every 100 students. In addition, a school is persistently dangerous if its school violence index is at least 50 and it has experienced at least 60 serious incidents, regardless of when they occurred.

What If a School Is Persistently Dangerous?

Whenever a school is persistently unsafe for two or more years, the school board must provide alternative educational options to students. NCLB offers the following options:

  • Providing eligible students with the opportunity to transfer to a school with higher performance standards and a lower school violence index
  • Providing free tutoring to students
  • Encouraging participation in after-school programs

A school district may also be able to modify its current curriculum and policies to provide a safer learning environment for its students.

Among the measures implemented by successful school boards are:

  • Revising and enforcing the school district’s code of conduct
  • Creating or improving safety plans in response to serious incidents
  • Providing students with additional support from mentors, guides, or family members
  • Analyzing to determine which areas need additional intervention

The school board must respond if a school is in critical condition due to serious incidents. A district that fails to implement these required measures may face an investigation by the Department of Education or even a civil or administrative lawsuit.

How Are Schools Held Accountable?

School districts and individual schools must make a plan of action that describes how their school will comply with meeting the “highly qualified” requirement.

Schools also need to prove their teachers meet the highly qualified requirement through either a subject evaluation or a High, Objective, Uniform State Standard of Evaluation (HOUSSE), which is used to evaluate multi-subject teachers.

As a reward, these schools can receive federal funding that assists them in meeting the requirements.

How Does the No Child Left Behind Act Govern Teacher Quality?

The NCLB Act created a condition that all schools must employ teachers that are “highly qualified.” Therefore, every teacher must have at least a bachelor’s degree, competence in their subject area, and full certification. Teachers who teach core academic subjects must possess these qualifications.

How Can Parents Inquire About Teacher Qualifications?

Parents can inquire about the qualifications of their child’s teachers at the school. Among the information provided will be the teacher’s certification, college degree, and provisional status.

What About Teacher’s Aides?

Teacher’s aides who do not meet the highly qualified requirements cannot give instruction but must be supervised by a qualified teacher. Consequently, you should contact the school administration if an unqualified teacher’s aide is teaching your child.

What Is AYP?

AYP stands for “Adequate Yearly Progress,” and it was one of the key elements of the NCLB. One of the goals of NCLB was to ensure that all children were “proficient” in certain basic math and reading skills by 2014. Proficiency was to be determined primarily by test scores.

This meant that all public schools were to make progress every year towards achieving state academic standards and meeting AYP goals. If a school did not achieve AYP, NCLB specified consequences, including such measures as allowing students at the school to go to a different school in their district.

The NCLB was the reauthorization of existing law, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Education reform was based on setting standards and testing students every year to determine whether educational goals had been met. It was based on the belief that its standards and testing program would improve students’ educational outcomes in public schools in the U.S.

Under NCLB, all states were required to develop educational standards and assess progress toward achieving them. States were required to administer these assessments to all students at certain grade levels. The NCLB expanded the federal government’s role in public education by requiring all states to comply. Testing was not the only thing involved. NCLB also mandated report cards, teacher qualifications, and other aspects of education.

By 2015, there was so much criticism of the NCLB that Congress removed the national features of the NCLB and replaced it with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which handed authority to regulate education back to the states.

ESSA replaces AYP and 100% proficiency requirements with a model that focuses instead on supporting struggling schools. States must establish an accountability system that measures progress toward “ambitious long-term goals.”

States must still measure student progress toward goals annually, but how progress is measured is different. It is now based on:

  • Proficiency as measured by state assessments of academic skills, and
    • At least one additional “valid and reliable academic indicator” that can incorporate “student growth”;
    • High school graduation rates;
  • At least one indicator of school quality or student success that allows for meaningful differentiation, such as student or educator engagement or school climate and safety.

Should I Be Concerned About NCLB?

The No Child Left Behind Act’s goals are high standards and expectations for every child. NCLB is viewed by many as a step in the right direction.

The NEA, however, believes the act focuses too much on:

  • Punishment rather than assistance
  • Mandates rather than supportive, effective programs
  • Privatization rather than teacher-led, family-oriented solutions

Do I Need a Lawyer if My Child’s School Is Persistently Dangerous?

If your child’s school has been classified as “persistently dangerous,” you may wish to get more involved in your child’s educational situation. To voice your concerns, you may wish to attend local school board meetings or schedule a meeting with the superintendent.

Suppose the school district has failed to implement corrective measures. In that case, you may wish to speak with a government lawyer for assistance with initiating further action, such as filing a complaint with a government administrative agency.

Save Time and Money - Speak With a Lawyer Right Away

  • Buy one 30-minute consultation call or subscribe for unlimited calls
  • Subscription includes access to unlimited consultation calls at a reduced price
  • Receive quick expert feedback or review your DIY legal documents
  • Have peace of mind without a long wait or industry standard retainer
  • Get the right guidance - Schedule a call with a lawyer today!

16 people have successfully posted their cases

Find a Lawyer