Summit Preparatory Charter High School parent Lisa de Avila believes the actions of staff and faculty help make the campus safer than a traditional public institution.

"All the students have mentors who follow them through their life at Summit," said de Avila, whose son is a freshman at the Redwood City school. "The mentors talk to their teachers, follow their academic progress and know when they are in trouble."

A recent report about charter school safety echoes some of de Avila's beliefs.

Charters are "quieter and less disruptive than traditional public schools" that serve students of similar background and have the same population size, according to the report by the National Charter School Research Project based at University of Washington's Center on Reinventing Public Education.

According to the report, one in seven charter teachers reported receiving threats from a student compared to one in five educators at a traditional school.

About one in 16 charter teachers reported being attacked, the report said. In contrast, one in nine traditional-school teachers reported such a case.

The report suggests that the kind of students who choose to attend a charter may be a factor in that difference. A charter may be admitting or attracting, for example, students "who have always behaved better in school than others of similar age and background,"the report said.

The report also showed that charters emphasize different security policies than traditional schools.

Charters, for instance, are more likely than their traditional counterparts to enforce strict dress codes and restrict access to the campus during school hours, the report said. Traditional schools are more likely than charters to offer violence-prevention programs and have the daily presence of police and security on campus.

In Hayward, there are two charters within the school district's attendance boundaries: Leadership Public Schools and Impact Academy of Arts and Technology.

Officials from the two high schools credit built-in practices with creating "a safe, welcoming climate" at their campuses.

At Impact Academy, for example, each student checks in with an adviser on a daily basis.

"We get to know our kids and their families very well. So we're able to form deep relationships," said Principal Jen Davis Wickens. "Because of this, students feel a real sense of accountability. This is their school and they are helping to build it."

But Wickens also points out that charters tend to be smaller when compared with traditional schools, which in and of itself makes them safer.

Impact Academy opened its doors for the first time this year and has 125 students enrolled. Leadership, which enrolls ninth- through 11th-graders, has 310 students attending classes.

Both campuses will max out at about 450 students once all grade levels have been implemented, according to officials.

The report doesn't surprise Gail Greely, chief operating officer of the Palo Alto-based Stanford New Schools, which operates the East Palo Alto Academy and East Palo Alto Academy High School charters.

"But it's great to hear," she said.

She said the flexibility charters have over traditional schools also plays a role.

Although funded with taxpayer dollars, charters operate free from many of the regulations governing traditional campuses.

In exchange for that freedom, a charter is bound to the terms of a contract laying out its academic goals and accountability procedures.

"One of the things about charters is that we have the flexibility to use funding," whereas traditional schools have certain pots of money earmarked for particular needs, Greely said.

Greely said Stanford New Schools charters use their funds for violence-prevention programs, conflict-resolution measures and community-building projects in which the schools partner up with nonprofit or other groups to improve student safety.

Meanwhile, Hayward Unified officials are working to improve safety at all of the district's schools, not just charters. HUSD averages about 2,000 students at its three comprehensive public high schools. 

School officials say safety is the district's No. 1 priority, and in the past year have moved to strengthen measures to protect students.

Earlier this year, administrators implemented closed campuses during lunch at the public high school level, prompting the hiring of more campus supervisors and the addition of fencing around the perimeter of campuses.

Staff are also working on placing surveillance cameras at all high schools, and eventually at all Hayward campuses.