. "3. Bad Things Happen in Good Communities: The Rampage Shooting in Edinboro, Pennsylvania, and Its Aftermath." Deadly Lessons: Understanding Lethal School Violence. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2003.
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Deadly Lessons: Understanding Lethal School Violence
JAMES W. PARKER MIDDLE SCHOOL
The Parker Middle School is part of the General McLane School District, which also serves the Borough of McKean, Franklin Township, McKean Township, and Washington Township. The district enjoys an excellent reputation. In its October 2000 issue, the parenting magazine Offspring rated General McLane as one of the top 100 school districts in the nation. Parker Middle School houses grades 5–8. In 1999, average student assessment scores for grade 8 math and reading put Parker at the high end of the range for socioeconomically similar schools in Pennsylvania. Scores for grade 6 writing exceeded the range in which similar schools tended to score.
Statistics published by the Pennsylvania Department of Education for the 1998–1999 school year provide a portrait of a large, well-appointed school with a stable student body, largely from middle-income and upper-middle-income families. Parental involvement in the school is high, as are parental expectations.
In the 1998–1999 school year, Parker had nearly 900 students. There were 49 teachers and only two counselors, plus the principal, a librarian, and three other staff. Class sizes ran somewhat lower than state averages for public secondary schools. At Parker, 65.8 percent of classes had 23 or fewer students, compared with 52.9 percent statewide. The attendance rate at Parker was 95.8 percent, compared with a state average of 93.0 percent. Enrollment was fairly stable, with 97.0 percent of students having started in the school district prior to the 1998–1999 school year. Only 16.9 percent of Parker’s students were classified as low income, compared with a state average of 31.7 percent.
Parker is a modern, resource-rich school with an abundance of academic programs and extracurricular activities. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the school’s library had over 17,000 volumes, with 14,300 titles checked out during the 1998–1999 school year. In that same year, the school had 252 computers available for student use; 146 of these had CD-ROM capabilities. Internet access was available in teacher workrooms, the computer lab, the library, and classrooms.
Historically, Parker has not had major student disciplinary problems. Prior to the shooting, violence and students bringing weapons to school seemed like a distant problem, not the sort of thing that would ever be a problem in Edinboro. There were cliques, which is typical of middle school students, but administrators and faculty were not aware of any disruptive divisions among the student body that warranted special attention. Some sources said that, when students moved into the middle school, Edinboro kids looked down on kids from McKean, where Andrew lived, but others denied that was the case.