Eldorado High School assault shows need for school choice, discipline | VICTOR JOECKS

Jonathan Eluterio Martinez Garcia waits in court for a status check at the Regional Justice Cen ...

Just when you think things can’t get any worse in the Clark County School District, they do.

Last week, a teacher was almost murdered at Eldorado High School. The suspect is a 16-year-old student. Prosecutors charged him with 15 crimes, including four counts of attempted murder, sexual assault and seven counts of sex-crimes-related battery.

It’s miraculous the teacher survived. The community prays for her recovery.

Crimes such as this shouldn’t be excused as a “mental health challenge,” either. It was evil.

While this is the most horrific attack, it’s part of an ongoing trend. Fights, violence and guns on campus have been a problem all year. Instead of cracking down on troublemakers, Superintendent Jesus Jara has long pushed “restorative justice.” Under that approach, you don’t expel troublemakers, you use touchy-feely mumbo-jumbo to try to change their behavior.

At a board meeting last month, district officials even bragged about the decline in disciplinary actions. That included a dramatic drop in the number of students cited or booked for fighting. Never mind that this reflected a lack of enforcement rather than an actual drop in violent incidents. One assistant superintendent called the decline in discretionary suspensions a bright spot.

Just three weeks later, Jara reversed himself, declaring that, “All major disciplinary infractions will result in a recommended expulsion with removal from a comprehensive school campus.”

After last week’s attack, Jara continued with his tough-on-crime rhetoric. “Let me say again, unequivocally, violence will not be tolerated at Clark County schools or against our students or staff,” he said.

An amazing, albeit welcome, sentiment from someone who spent years enabling increased violence.

On Tuesday, Jara announced new safety measures, including more police officers on campus and eventual technology upgrades.

That’s fine, but it shouldn’t distract from the most important long-term solution — school choice. School choice programs allow parents to use a portion of the money the district would have received for their children to pay for education alternatives. Those options could include private school or home-schooling.

Nevada has long needed school choice to help students trapped in schools that fail them academically. For instance, last school year, just 3.9 percent of African-American students tested proficient in math.

But ongoing school violence shows choice is needed for a more pressing reason — students aren’t safe in traditional public schools. If kids don’t feel safe, choice offers them alternatives. That makes them safer — and would help teachers by giving them more options for employment, too.

It would also put pressure on the district to decrease violence. Consistent discipline and consequences will dramatically improve the situation once students realize officials are serious.

Republicans have long fought for school choice, and they should be especially vocal in calling for it now. Gov. Steve Sisolak has been hostile to school choice. Sheriff Joe Lombardo and North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee, the two Republican gubernatorial frontrunners in my estimation, should be proactive in highlighting school choice as an alternative.

School choice would make kids safer.

Contact Victor Joecks at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow
@victorjoecks on Twitter.