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3 School Districts to Test Crime Programs

Times Staff Writer

Orange County has been awarded three state-funded pilot programs to combat drug abuse, truancy and violence among school students, Atty. Gen. John K. Van de Kamp announced Tuesday.

Each of the programs will receive $5,000 from a new state fund created to test differing approaches for fighting crime and delinquency in California schools.

School districts and county departments of education throughout the state were invited to submit applications for the grants. A total of 127 proposals for pilot projects were received by the attorney general’s office and 30 programs were approved, Van de Kamp said.

Cooperative Project

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One of the Orange County winners is a cooperative project involving the county Department of Education, the county Health Care Agency, the Anaheim Union High School District and the Anaheim Police Department. They will jointly make school surveys, design an anti-crime and anti-drug curriculum and focus on two junior highs and one high school.

A second program, focusing on drug-abuse prevention, involves Fountain Valley High School, the Huntington Beach Union High School District and the Fountain Valley Police Department.

The third program, to be operated in conjunction with the Irvine Police Department, will target student drug and alcohol abuse in the Irvine Unified School District.

The grants for the pilot projects come from the Interagency School Safety Demonstration Act that was signed into law by Gov. George Deukmejian last year. Van de Kamp said the programs will begin this spring and run through June, 1987. Results of the programs will be shared with other schools.

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Large Share of Crime Problem

The attorney general said that school violence and drug abuse account for a large share of California’s crime problem.

“In 1984-85, there were over 5,300 assaults upon students and staff; more than 1,500 incidents of possession of weapons, and almost 21,000 acts of vandalism and more than $12.7 million in property damage in Los Angeles County alone,” Van de Kamp said.

“Paralleling the climbing rate of violence in schools is the absence of students from schools, which average almost 20%.”

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Van de Kamp said the relationship between truancy and crime is clear. West Covina police aggressively targeted truancy in that city in 1981, he said, and the result was that daytime crime decreased 51.2%

Hope to Reduce Crime

Officials hope that the Orange County Department of Education project will reduce crime by 10% and substance abuse by at least 20% in three schools that will be the focus of the pilot program, according to its application. The three schools are Anaheim High and two of its feeder schools, Sycamore and Brookhurst junior high schools.

“Working together with the (Anaheim) Police Department and representatives from the school sites, we will pull together a curriculum design,” said Bert Simpson, who coordinates anti-drug activity for the county Department of Education. Simpson said the curriculum would be for anti-crime, anti-drug instruction.

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Fountain Valley High School’s application called for creating a “Help Center” on its campus to be operated on school days from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. The center, to be manned by volunteers, would give advice and information about drug abuse to students.

Finally, Irvine Unified School District and the city’s Police Department will create a class instruction program for drug abuse, said Deputy Supt. Bruce Givner.

“We want to help students improve their self-concept and prevent peer pressure from involving them in drug abuse,” he said.


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