State Education Department

Reporting of Violent and Disruptive Incidents by Public Schools (Follow-Up Report)

Public schools in New York State are required to report all violent and disruptive incidents to the State Education Department, and the Department is to assess the incidents to determine whether any schools should be designated as persistently dangerous. Such schools must develop plans for reducing their level of violence. In our prior audit 2005-S-38, we visited a representative sample of high schools to evaluate their compliance with this reporting requirement and found that many of the violent and disruptive incidents documented in the schools’ records were not reported to the Department, including serious incidents involving the use of a weapon. For example, at one high school, 780 of the 924 documented incidents (84.4 percent) in the 2003-04 school year were not reported to the Department, and the unreported incidents included two sexual offenses, 11 incidents involving the use of a weapon, one incident involving the possession of a weapon. Based on the results of our work, we concluded there was a significant risk that the level of violence at other high schools across the State was similarly understated.

We also found that schools at risk of being designated as persistently dangerous could manipulate their reported incident data to avoid the designation. We recommended the Department more actively monitor the reporting process through site visits to selected school districts. When we followed up on these matters with Department officials, we found they had generally implemented our audit recommendations.

For a complete copy of Report 2007-F-13 click here.