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Sunday, December 28, 2008

School's Scandals Go Under and Unreported!

Controller says high school violence underreported
Thursday, September 20th 2007, 5:52 PM

See the audit report
City high schools are not assafe as they claim to be, an audit by city Controller William Thompson charged yesterday.
Thompson's staff reviewed documents at 10 public high schools in the 2004-2005 school year and found that violent incidents - including a rape at Brooklyn's Boys and Girls High School and a stabbing at the Bronx's DeWitt Clinton High School - were not in official school violence reports.
"That's clearly unacceptable," Thompson said. "I think parents would want to know the accurate numbers as to whether a school is safe or not safe."
Failing to report every incident, he said, "creates a bit of illusion" that could deprive a school of public resources that might flow with a full accounting.
It also could deprive parents of the right to move their kids to safer schools. Students at schools on the state's list of persistently dangerous schools can request a transfer.
Critics like teachers union President Randi Weingarten have long charged that school officials cover up crime to avoid professional consequences.
Heavy pressure to make a school seem less dangerous may have exacerbated a stroke that 15-year-old Mariya Fatima suffered at Jamaica High School in Queens last spring, the girl's family said.
The Daily News reported last week that Jamaica High officials may have waited too long to call for help because an assistant principal barred deans from dialing 911.
Although Thompson stopped short of saying the unreported incidents were deliberately covered up by unscrupulous officials, he referenced the story in The News about Mariya as an example of a "lax attitude" that "paints an artificial and illusory picture of what's actually going on."
School officials rejected Thompson's findings, calling his audit "imprecise and misleading" because it used old data, different crime definitions from the ones schools use and looked at only 10 schools.
"The [controller's] methodology wouldn't make it to first base with a researcher worth their salt," the statement said.
Thompson shot back with an equally pointed statement, noting that the 2004-2005 data were the most recent available to the public. He also mocked the Education Department for a typo in its statement.
"It's a shame the Department of Education cannot even spell ... correctly. We'll gladly send over a dictionary," the statement said, adding, "Once again, the department is simply acknowledging that it won't address real problems."

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