A total of 13 incidents of violence were reported in Hillsborough schools between September and December, less than a quarter of the numbers reported in the same period a year earlier, according to a midyear report on violence and vandalism presented by Interim Assistant Superintendent for Personnel Andrew Rinko at Monday's Board of Education meeting.
"I think it's because of the culture that's been created here," Dr. Rinko said about the drop in the numbers.
The annual report is required by state law, and aimed at making the public aware of incidents of violence in the schools. Superintendent Jorden Schiff prefaced the report noting the board is also required to present information on harassment, intimidation and bullying incidents, and chose to combine the two for a six-month assessment.
The breakdown given by Dr. Rinko included six incident of violence (three fights, two incidents of threats and one assault), two reports of weapons in the schools (both pocket knives), five substance abuse cases and one confirmed HIB incident (totals do not equal the sum of the individual incidents because one incident may include more than one category in the breakdown, but is only counted once).
There were no reported incidents of vandalism between September and December.
In the same a period of last year, school officials tallied 67 reports of violence, three weapons, eight substance abuse and five reports of vandalism.
Dr. Rinko cited the district's policies, safety plans, conflict resolution approaches and work with police among the factors which are creating the culture in the schools behind the "dramatic change."
"When those work together, what you're going to see folks, is a community that values its children and makes folks accountable for those children," he said. "There's also been a general awareness of what's happening in the schools and that has had a dramatic effect."
Regarding the incidents of HIB, Dr. Rinko said most have been handled with detentions and counseling, as well as consultation with parents.