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Sunday, December 28, 2008

NYC Comptroller Says That Mayor Bloomberg Does Not Accurately Report School Violence

Comptroller Accuses DOE Of Underreporting Dangerous Incidents

Comptroller Bill Thompson is raising concerns over the Department of Education’s reporting incidents in schools.

Thompson claims the DOE underreported dangerous incidents in ten public high schools.

"Here at Murry Bergtraum, students have been the victims of theft, harassment and assault, yet many of these incidents were not reported to the state," said Thompson.

One Bergtraum student said some incidents, like fist-fights, are not reported because they should not be.

"When there's a fight or something happens they keep it on a down low where nobody else would know about it,” said the student.

Under federal law, the DOE has to report crimes so state officials in Albany can let parents know if their child's school is dangerous. Parents have the right to transfer their children out of schools on the danger list.

Thompson says the other nine schools that have under-reported crime rates are:

The Bronx
Dewitt Clinton High School (pictured above)
Alfred E Smith High Schools

Paul Robeson
Samuel Tilden High School
Boys and Girls High School

August Martin High School
Aviation High School


Graphic Communication Arts High School(pictured above)

Staten Island
Curtis High School

The state lists only Tilden as dangerous.

United Federation of Teachers President released a statement saying, "this audit confirms a practice educators and the UFT have complained about for years: the failure to report all school incidents." But each school still has discretion over what needs to be reported.

The Bergtraum dean said it's important people get an accurate picture as to how incidents are reported inside her school.

"We have a lot of deans. We have a lot of security,” said Dean Daisy Martinez. “This school places a lot of importance on safety. This is why I cannot believe that report."

The Thompson audit said a stolen security radio and teachers harassing students were among the incidents not reported at Bergtraum last here. He said it's not about casting a shadow over a school, but making sure there's accurate reporting.

The DOE responded that Thompson is using old data, categorizing incidents as serious when they're not, and using methodology that “wouldn't make it to first base with a researcher worth his or her salt."

Meanwhile, Councilman Bill de Blasio is blasting the DOE for failing to track abuse on school buses.

He plans to introduce legislation that would require the department to give monthly updates to the City Council.

According to The Daily News, over 3,500 complaints of physical and sexual abuse were reported last year – a 79 percent increase from 2002.

"It's unacceptable that there's violence and assaults and taunting and bullying on our school buses and it's even more unacceptable that the public has not been given the full picture," said de Blasio.

Schools Chancellor Joel Klein says the issue was addressed in the spring, and claims reported cases have since declined.

Mayor Bloomberg's press release:


Major Felony Crime Has Declined by 34 Percent during the Bloomberg Administration

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, and Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein, today announced that major felony crime and violent crime at City public schools dropped substantially during the 2007-08 school year, building on progress over the course of the Administration in reducing school crime. During the 2007-08 school year, 1,042 major crime incidents were reported, compared with 1,166 incidents reported in the 2006-07 school year, representing an 11 percent decrease in major felony crime. Since the 2000-01 school year, the year before Mayor Bloomberg took office, major felony crime has dropped by 34 percent, falling to its current low from a high of 1,577. Violent incidents also decreased, falling 10 percent in the last year and 31 percent since the 2000-01 school year. Schools classified as “Impact Schools” have also experienced a drop in major felony crime. There were only 37 Impact School major crimes in the 2007-08 school year, compared to 87 in the schools’ first years on the Impact list. The Mayor made the announcement at the High School of Graphic Communication Arts in Manhattan, which experienced an 88 percent drop in crime this past school year. School Principal Jerod Resnick joined the Mayor, Commissioner, and the Chancellor for the announcement.

“Student success begins with school safety, and that’s why we continue to working hard to cut crime and violence in schools,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “The NYPD, Department of Education and schools officials have all worked collaboratively to ensure that schools are a safe place for students. Their efforts are succeeding and are giving our children the safe learning environments that they deserve – and that all parents have every right to expect.”

“Crime is down city-wide again this year. Crime in the subways is at its lowest in memory, and crime in school is down dramatically. It’s not a coincidence that crime is down on all fronts,” said Commissioner Kelly. “The common denominator in all instances is dedicated police officers. And in the case of the schools – dedicated school safety agents, teamed with police officers, working together with school officials. They have all done great work so children can learn in safety.”

“Safety is a prerequisite to learning in our schools and classrooms. Only when hallways and classrooms are safe and secure can our students concentrate, learn, and excel,” said Chancellor Klein.

“We owe thanks to Commissioner Kelly, our school safety agents, and all of the educators who have worked so hard to make our schools much safer for New York City public school students in the last school year.”

“These historic drops in crime are the product of the combined efforts of all school communities – teachers, administrators, school safety agents and police,” said the Mayor’s Criminal Justice Coordinator John Feinblatt. “Safe classrooms and hallways are a critical prerequisite for high academic achievement and healthy social development, and we owe our children nothing less.”

“Parents need to know that their children’s schools are safe, and I am impressed by what we and the Administration have been able to accomplish through collaboration,” said United Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten. “Now, we must continue our efforts to make every classroom a learning environment free from disruption, and that means strict enforcement of school discipline codes.”

“Educating students in a safe and secure learning environment is paramount to school leaders – that’s why CSA meets regularly with school safety and the NYPD,” said Council of School Supervisors and Administrators President Ernest Logan. “This decline in incidents is a reflection of the hard work of educators and school safety agents, working together to address student issues and to ensure school safety. We must also continue to focus on conflict resolution for our neediest students.”

“At the High School of Graphic Communication Arts, we were effective in reducing crime because we implemented a guidance approach to student issues that helped us address problems before they escalated,” said Principal Resnick. “We could not have done this without the support of Office of School and Youth Development CEO Elayna Konstan and her team, and School Support Organization Network Leader Michael LaForgia and CEO Judith Chin. Thank you.”

Current Impact Schools also showed a decrease in crime. The Impact School program was created four years ago as a partnership between Chancellor Klein and Commissioner Kelly. The goal of the program is to reduce school violence and disorder and create safe learning environments in City public schools. Campus Magnet High School in Queens showed the greatest drop in major felony crimes at Impact Schools with 89 percent fewer major felony crimes in the 2007-08 school year than in the 2006-07 school year when it was first placed on the Impact list. Other schools that showed decreases in major crime are Tilden High School in Brooklyn, which experienced an 83 percent decrease since 2003-04, when it was first added to the list. Newtown High School in Queens experienced a 73 percent decrease in major felony crimes, falling to 4 from 15 since it was added to the list in 2005-06.

Impact Schools are selected through an evaluation of Police Department and Department of Education data. Indicators examined include the total number of incidents at a school, the number of incidents involving assaults (felonies and misdemeanors), the number of incidents involving weapons or dangerous instruments, the number of major crimes, and a qualitative review of school conditions. Troubled schools were also identified through a review of data on safety-related transfers, superintendent suspensions, attendance, and supervisory visits.

For the nine current Impact Schools, major crimes are down 57 percent in the 2007-08 school year compared with the first year each was placed on the Impact list. The current Impact Schools include Beach Channel High School, Campus Magnet, Jamaica High School, Newtown High School and I.S. 291in Queens; Sheepshead Bay, Canarsie, and Tilden High Schools, in Brooklyn, and John F. Kennedy High School in the Bronx. Similar data show positive results among the former 19 impact schools where major crimes are down 71 percent compared with the first year each was placed on the Impact list.

The High School of Graphic Communication Arts experienced an 88 percent decrease in major crime, falling to 1 incident this past school year from 8 incidents during the 2006-07 school year.

Contact: Stu Loeser/Dawn Walker /Jason Post (212) 788-2958

Paul Browne (NYPD) (646) 610-6700

David Cantor (DOE) (212) 374-5141

Another article on Graphic Communication Arts HS:
By ANGELA MONTEFINISE, New York Post, October 28, 2007

The principal of a Midtown vocational high school is being accused of harassing and unfairly punishing teachers he doesn't like - including the school's entire Spanish department.

Since his arrival at Graphics Communications Arts HS in 2003, principal Jerod Resnick has sent nine teachers to a so-called "rubber room," a holding pen for teachers waiting to face disciplinary charges. In his first year, 17 teachers received an unsatisfactory rating.

Several teachers described Resnick as a "bully" who goes after employees - particularly older, disabled or minority teachers - by issuing bad ratings or bringing false disciplinary charges.

Two lawsuits have been brought against him and the Department of Education in federal court; a third is expected.

"If he doesn't like you, he will target you," charged Spanish teacher Gloria Chavez, who was pulled from the classroom last year. "I've been teaching 16 years, I've never gotten a bad rating. Not one. Now all of a sudden I'm in trouble."

Teachers concede the school had discipline problems when Resnick arrived, and understand his desire to get tough - just not at their expense.

"His way to fix the problems is to harass the teachers and blame us," said Josefina Cruz, a Spanish teacher who said most of the instructors targeted are minorities, even though the student body is 95 percent Hispanic and black. "We're not the problem."

Resnick did not return messages seeking comment.

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