Speaking at the time the report was released, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin said, "We have reason to believe that these rate increases are due to improved reporting as well as more incidents occurring on campus."
This is the sixth annual school safety report released by the state since the program's inception in 1995.
The report showed that students represented 90 percent of the victims of crimes against persons, and 68 percent of the victims were male. Males represented 81 percent of known suspects.
The report sounds a note of caution when drawing conclusions from individual rate increases, saying improved reporting practices by some school districts may have a result of showing apparent increases in incidents that may not accurately reflect actual increases.
The Imperial Unified School District showed a 5.54 percent increase in drug/alcohol offenses in this year's report.
Imperial Unified Superintendent Barbara Layaye said Tuesday, in addressing the increases, "The 6.77 figure for drug/alcohol offenses involved 14 incidents involving drugs or alcohol."
Layaye said, "We thought the rate would increase because our teachers have now had training in recognizing and reporting these offenses and we have a full-time probation officer working with our district as well as full-time campus security officers."
Other school districts in the Imperial Valley showed increases, notably El Centro Elementary School District with an increase of 4.18 percent in incidents of battery and a 4.53 increase in property crimes in the Brawley Union High School district.
Imperial County Superintendent of Schools John Anderson agrees with Eastin and Layaye that the increases are, in the main, due to increased reporting by teachers and staff.
"But I would add that there is also a strong likelihood that these increases, especially in the areas of battery and violence, are due to students being more aware of these issues and being more willing to report an assault on them by another student."
Anderson said he thinks in light of school shootings in San Diego and elsewhere in the nation, students are talking more about issues of school safety and feel more justified in reporting even the slightest incident.
"I regard that as a good sign, a great trend," Anderson said.
>>Staff Writer Jennifer Ralton-Smith can be reached at 337-3442 or firstname.lastname@example.org