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KFOX14 Investigates: School Safety Report

Students crossing the streets.

Some Borderland student are back in school this week while others gear up to return.

KFOX14 Investigates is digging into how safe your child’s school is.

Districts are required to report all disciplinary actions to the Texas Education Agency, from fights to drugs to weapons on campus and gang violence. KFOX14 Investigates took a look at the numbers in the three largest districts to find out what they’re doing to keep students safe.

El Paso’s three largest school districts are dealing with some of the same problems– most often, school fights.

“If a student doesn't feel safe they're not going to perform to the level they are capable of,” said Pat O’Neill, chief of operations for the Ysleta Independent School District.

The latest data available from the Texas Education Agency is from 2015- 2016.

It shows there were

514 fights at EPISD, 486 at YISD and 211 at SISD.

"Things can get out of control very quickly. We work to see where the problems might be coming from,” said SISD Chief of Police Jose Castorena.

“We are also starting random acts of kindness,” O’Neill said of one of YISD's new initiatives this school year.

EPISD has about 20,000 more students than Ysleta and Socorro, which both have around 45,000.

Drug use is also a problem at each district. For the same school year, EPISD had 309 cases, YISD 186 and SISD 172.

“Its an everyday battle. We have K-9s and we deploy them as much as we can to our campuses. So far it has helped, the deterrence has helped,” said Castorena.

At YISD, they’re looking into the cause of drug use.

“What’s causing kids to self-medicate? Then you want to try and address those issues. Are there problems at home, problems in school, is the student being bullied?” said O’Neill.

Then there are students who face felony charges.

EPISD had 26, SISD had eight and YISD reported zero.

EPISD said those students are moved to alternative campuses.

“We want to do everything that we can to support them, to keep them in school. The minute we lose them to the system, it is very difficult to get them back,” said Melissa Martinez, a spokeswoman for EPISD.

In 2015-2016 EPISD also reported 10 instances of gang-related violence, up slightly from the year before. Six illegal knives were found on campus and six cases of arson were reported.

The other districts did not report any of these issues.

“Our culture right now is see something, say something,” said Martinez.

We also asked the districts what they're doing to protect teachers.

Each year, dozens of staff members in the borderland are assaulted.

EPISD had 22 cases, YISD 17 and SISD five.

“There is training involved for our staff and administration to keep them safe. We always want to take their safety as serious as we do our students. We want it to be a safe environment for everyone,” said Martinez.

All of the districts point to their police departments and relationship with local police as safety measures.

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