April 2001
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From the New York State Assembly  Black Square  Sheldon Silver, Speaker
Steven Sanders, Chair, Education Committee
Joseph R. Lentol, Chair, Codes Committee
Roger Green, Chair, Children and Families Committee
Susan John, Chair, Majority Steering Committee

Project SAVE Will Combat School Violence, Keep Our Kids Safe

At a time when an unsettling trend of school violence has swept our nation, providing a sound, quality education must now go hand in hand with the need to protect our children from the threat of violence on school grounds.

That’s why the Assembly initiated Project SAVE, which was signed into law last year. This innovative new law institutes better school safety and violence prevention initiatives and increases penalties for assaults committed on school grounds.

Project SAVE will help make our schools safer places for our children to learn, and give parents the peace of mind that their kids are in good hands. By removing the fear of violence and helping to return discipline to the classroom, the new law will make our teachers more effective and our students more successful. The focus in New York’s schools will be where it belongs –– on learning.

Removing the threat of violence from New York’s classrooms

The Assembly Majority recognizes that children growing up in our fast-paced world have enough to be concerned about without having to live in fear of violence at the hands of a classmate or having their work interrupted by disruptive students.

Under Project SAVE, students who have committed violent acts will be immediately removed from the classroom. In recognition of the fact that repeatedly disruptive students cause a majority of school discipline problems, the new law also reasserts a teacher’s authority to remove disruptive students from the classroom and refer them to the principal for disciplinary action.

To further discourage violence, Project SAVE increases the penalty for assault against a student or school employee on school grounds, from an A misdemeanor to a D felony with a punishment of up to seven years in prison. This should cause outsiders to think twice before entering the school grounds to perpetrate violence.

Project SAVE also mandates the creation of a uniform reporting system for violent incidents, and requires that certain criminal acts be reported –– such as the use of a weapon or an assault.

Schools are prohibited from retaliating against school employees who report incidents of violence, thereby providing "whistleblower" protection and ensuring an accurate reporting of violence in our schools. This reporting system will make it easier for parents to find out if a school has a record of violence.

Developing school safety policies and codes of conduct to maintain discipline in our schools

The primary goal of Project SAVE is to stop school violence before it happens. Maintaining structure and discipline in our schools is an essential element of preventing violence –– as well as ensuring that response plans are in place should an incident occur.

That’s why each school district will be required to establish a Code of Conduct based on input from teachers, parents, administrators and school staff. Having such a code in place will help students and teachers understand what actions are appropriate in a school setting –– and what the consequences of inappropriate behavior are.

To ensure that students, teachers and staff know how to react in the event that violence does erupt on school grounds, Project SAVE requires schools to work with local law enforcement officials and members of the community to develop an emergency response plan that will limit the damaging effects of a violent incident.

Providing school violence prevention grants

To provide additional financial support for schools seeking to upgrade security, the new law provides grant opportunities for funding metal detectors, security training for school employees, and school violence prevention programs. Grants will also be made available to expand extended-day programs, which are vital to keeping kids out of trouble before and after school hours.

Educating teachers and students to recognize the warning signs of violence

The Assembly Majority recognizes that guarding against violent incidents in our schools means educating both teachers and students on how to recognize signs of impending violent behavior.

That’s why Project SAVE’s new certification requirements for teachers in New York State include a violence prevention and education curriculum which provides basic training in school violence prevention. And to help promote civility and citizenship among students, the new law provides for the inclusion of a character curriculum for grades K through 12.

The law improves the partnership between the juvenile justice system and schools, to help troubled youth make a successful transition back into the classroom with additional education, intervention and support services.

Continuing the Assembly Majority’s commitment to keeping our kids safe

Project SAVE is just part of the Assembly’s continuing effort to crack down on crime and violence, both in our schools and in our communities.

Last year, in addition to enacting Project SAVE, we fought successfully for passage of legislation which will allow schools to fingerprint and conduct criminal background checks on prospective employees. This measure will help school districts expose criminals who are hiding behind the guise of helping our children –– while in reality they are preying on them.

Also in recent years, the Assembly Majority has pushed through tough new laws that expanded the state’s DNA criminal database, cracked down on stalking and increased criminal penalties for school bomb threats.

Children today must deal with challenges and pressures that previous generations could not even have imagined. We owe it to our young people to give them a chance to just be children, without the worry that they will encounter violence in their schools.

Project SAVE will help make our classrooms and playgrounds safe from crime and violence, and provide the peace of mind our families need and deserve. It will foster in our schools a safe, nurturing environment where children are allowed to grow and learn to their full potential.

For more information on preventing school violence, see the U.S. Department of Education and Department of Justice report entitled "Safeguarding Our Children: An Action Guide," which is posted at:


The U.S. Department of Education report "Making Our Schools Safe and Drug Free," posted at:

Black Square

For detailed statistical information on the current nature of crime in schools nationwide, see the report "Indicators of School Crime and Safety, 2000," compiled by the National Center for Education Statistics and the Bureau of Justice Statistics and posted at:

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