Yesterday in Belleville, Missouri, a 17-year-old high school student was beaten on a school bus while fellow students looked on and cheered. Today, in Miami, Florida, a student was stabbed to death at Coral Gables Sr. High School. No family should have to submit their child to such violence prone environments a daily basis. In fact, a study by the U.S. Department of Education’s (DOE) Institute for Education Sciences released in March of this year found that those parents participating in the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program cited school safety as their most important reason for seeking a scholarship.

Since that time The Heritage Foundation submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) requesting records of crime incidents during the 2007-2008 school year in D.C. public, private, and charter schools. Our Center for Data Analysis has crunched the numbers and this is what we found:

Public Schools: During the 2007-2008 school year, 3,500 incidences of crime were reported to the MPD from D.C. public schools. These included:

  • The 912 violent incidents (1.9 violent incidents per 100 students) included one homicide.
  • Simple assault, the most prevalent type of violent incident reported, accounted for 648 reports (1.3 per 100 students). In addition, there were 114 aggravated assaults (0.2 per 100 students).

Public Charter Schools: During the 2009-2010 school year, 82 incidences of crime were reported to 911 from D.C. charter schools. These included:

  • 17 reported violent incidents (0.08 per 100 students), all of which were simple assaults.

Private Schools: During the 2009-2010 school year, 232 incidences of crime were reported to 911 from D.C. private schools. These included:

  • 28 violent incidents (0.16 per 100 students).
  • 14 simple assaults (0.09 per 100 students), which were the majority of the reported violent incidents.

Despite the fact that the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program is immensely popular with D.C. families, Congress and the Obama Administration have taken several steps that threaten to end the program. For example, the U.S. Department of Education sent a letter notifying the families of 216 students who had recently been admitted to the scholarship program that their children would no longer be eligible for scholarships. The department’s decision to withdraw these scholarships forced these low-income families to find new schools for their children for the upcoming school year. Many will likely have no choice but to attend the assigned public schools in their neighborhoods.

The Heritage Foundation obtained a list of the 70 public schools to which these students have been assigned since the Department of Education withdrew their Opportunity Scholarships. Overall, these 70 schools for the 2007-2008 school year had many reported incidents of violence and crime.

  • The MPD received reports of 2,379 crime-related incidents from these schools, including 666 violent incidents (2.7 per 100 students), of which one was a homicide.
  • Simple and aggravated assault was the most prevalent violent incident, consisting of 555 reported assaults (2.3 per 100 students).

Congress and D.C. officials should expand school choice and give more families the power to choose safe and effective schools for their children.