HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – Local 10 News has learned the top two schools in the state for reported sex offenses on campus are right here in South Florida, and one of them is an elementary school.
According to the latest records released by the Florida Department of Education, Orangebrook Elementary in Hollywood had 17 reported sex offenses on campus last school year. That is more incidents than any of the other 4,200 public schools in the state.
Parents at the school had no idea about the school's No. 1 ranking.
"This is news to me," said Orangebrook parent Heather Campagana.
"That is a high number when you are dealing with minor children. That's not acceptable. If incidents like this are happening, I think there should be letters going home on what's going on," said Orangebrook parent Patricia Ramsaran.
Records show Orangebrook had seven reported incidents for the 2012-13 school year. The number jumped to 17 incidents last school year.
For reporting purposes, a "sexual offense" is defined as a lewd and/or indecent exposure or act.
Because of confidentiality laws, the school district can't tell Local 10 News exactly what's happening and why.
"The situation and the incidents as reported are addressed at a student or students level. They are addressed with that specific student's family. We adhere to student privacy policies and regulations," said Broward County school district spokeswoman Tracy Clark.
Parents said there is no need to release specific names. Just knowing the issue exists would allow an open line of communication at home.
"You can question your children. Ask if there is something going on that they are not saying because they are scared," said Ramsaran.
Orangebrook wasn't the only Broward County school on the top 10 list for reported sex offense last year. Fort Lauderdale High School ranked second in the state with 12 reported incidents. Forest Glen Middle School in Coral Springs was sixth. Lauderdale Lakes Middle School rounded out the top 10.
No Miami-Dade County schools ranked in the top 10.
Overall, Broward County leads the state for reported sex offenses. Records show a reported 385 incidents district-wide last year. That's more than the next four counties on the list combined; they are Palm Beach, Polk, Orange and Lee counties.
"Understand that those numbers could be around one, two, three or four students," said Michaelle Pope, executive director of student support. "It's the number of offenses we are counting here. If you have a student who is struggling, in crisis, a student who is having some issues, it may be as we work with this student that they are committing that particular act on a daily or weekly basis and we are counting each one as an incident."
The Florida Department of Education has strict definitions as to how things are supposed to be reported so that schools in all 67 Florida counties report incidents the same way.
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