CITY OF PAWTUCKET, RI
Mayor James Doyle

COOPERATIVE STATE & LOCAL PREVENTION PROGRAMS

1. Briefly describe the structure of your program.

The disruption caused by violence in public elementary and secondary schools is not only a concern for large cities but small cities like Pawtucket. Crime in and around schools threatens the well-being of students, school staff, and communities. The City of Pawtucket has fifteen schools, two high schools, three junior high schools and ten elementary schools. There are about twenty-one hundred (2,100) high school students, nineteen hundred (1,900) junior high school students and fifty seven hundred (5,700) elementary students, for a total of ninety seven-hundred (9,700) students.

The goal of the Pawtucket School System is to eliminate all schools in Pawtucket from drugs and violence and the unauthorized presence of firearms and alcohol, and offer a disciplined environment that is conducive to learning. To accomplish this goal, the following prevention and after school programs were put in place.

In 1993 the State Attorney General formed a statewide Task Force to address specific problems of violence in schools. The Task Force consisted of judges, prosecutors, school administrators, teachers, PTA officials enforcement officials and state legislators. As a result, the following are legislative initiatives sponsored by the Task Force and the Attorney General and are subject to all schools within the State of Rhode Island.

1. Law now requires schools to notify law enforcement and parent(s) or guardians when a weapon is found on school grounds. (R.I.G.L. 11-47-60.2)

  1. A firearm is defined to include air-rifle, air-pistol, or pelt guns, or any instrument for which steel or metal projectiles are propelled. Besides firearms, any knife, any defensive weapon such as gas repellent, mace, stungun, any martial arts device such as Chinese stars, nunchauu or any tool or device that someone could reasonably conclude may be used to cause bodily injury.
  2. A juvenile who is found in possession of a firearm or weapon may lose his/her license to operate a motor vehicle for up to six (6) months or delay in his/her right to obtain the license when eligible to do so, for up to six (6) months.
  3. Possessing a replica of a firearm on school grounds is unlawful for a student.

Pawtucket has implemented a Zero Tolerance Weapons policy developed by the Attorney Generalís Task Force. This policy assist school administrators to deal with weapons and violence in schools. The Zero Tolerance policy recommends that immediate and appropriate action be taken by the designated school official and provide for process provisions.

School districts are charged with the power to exercise discretion in determining what school penalty will be imposed against a student who brings a weapon or illegal drugs to school. Every school district in Rhode Island has adopted Zero Tolerance, and although the Gun Free Schools Act provides for a minimum suspension or one (1) year for bring a gun to school, the Act allows local (Pawtucket) school authorities to modify this penalty for a student on a case-by-case basis. Therefore each school district may have various minimum suspensions guidelines depending on circumstance and age, etc.

The Attorney Generalís Task Force to Prevent Violence in Schools has sponsored and initiated youth peer mediation programs targeted for elementary school in Rhode Island in which Pawtucket participates. The peer mediation program or "PLUS," Peer Listening Understanding Solving, encourages young students to be involved in peer mediation. Two Pawtucket schools currently participate in the program they are, Virginia Cunningham Elementary School and Curvin-McCabe Elementary School.

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