A recent shooting last week at Roseburg High School in Roseburg, Oregon was a chilling reminder to many of the 1998 rampage at Springfield’s Thurston High School, when Kip Kinkel opened fire, killing two and wounding more than 20.
But the intervening years have been free of school shootings in Oregon, and recent expulsion rates for violence or carrying weapons has remained about steady despite a growing enrollment, according to the state’s Department of Education.
Expulsion totals range from 381 in 2002-2003 to 395 in 2004-2005, a rate of less than one student per thousand, according to state figures.
“My perception, based on speaking with school safety officers in the districts, is that schools in Oregon are at a pretty high level of safety,” said John Lenssen, the violence prevention director for the Oregon Department of Education.
Discipline has toughened since Thurston and the shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado a year later.
Oregon now requires a one-year expulsion for carrying a gun in school and an appearance before a judge prior to release.
Campus security, violence prevention programs and crisis response plans have been increased.
In Roseburg Thursday a 16-year-old sophomore was shot several times. allegedly by a 14-year-old student, in a school courtyard.
Jeff Sprague, co-director of the Institute on Violence and Destructive Behavior at the University of Oregon, said schools have made more of an effort to identify who might bring a gun to school and use it since the Kinkel incident.
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