FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, AUGUST 22, 2006
For More Information Contact:
Jonathan Burman, Tom Dunn, Alan Ray at (518) 474-1201
Seventeen Schools Named As "Persistently Dangerous" Under NCLB,
Ten Schools Placed on "Watch List"
Seventeen schools have been identified as "persistently dangerous," as required under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
The two lists of schools are attached.
Schools are designated "persistently dangerous" if they have two successive years of serious incidents that meet or exceed criteria established by the Department. Serious incidents include: homicide, forcible and other sexual offenses, robbery, assault resulting in serious physical injury or in physical injury, arson, kidnapping, reckless endangerment, and possession, use or threatened use of a weapon.
"Nothing is more important than the safety of children in our care," Commissioner Mills said. "We share a common obligation to ensure the safety of children in school. We also share an obligation to report accurately. Nonetheless, some schools report violent and disruptive incidents that raise serious concerns about children's welfare. It is essential that we take action to eliminate these problems."
The standard is a ratio of violent incidents to enrollment in a school and is determined by the number and type of incidents. Each incident is given a weighting based on the seriousness of the incident. The weightings are added. The result is then divided by enrollment. This yields a numerical index of school violence.
A school is considered "persistently dangerous" if for both 2004-05 and 2005-06, it has either:
An index of 1.5 (This is approximately 6 incidents per 100 students, more or less depending on the seriousness of the incidents.)
At least 60 serious incidents and an index of at least .50.
All schools designated as "persistently dangerous" must provide school choice to students where transfer options exist. School districts must also submit an Incident Reduction Plan for each school to show the specific steps that the district will take to reduce the number of violent incidents and improve safety at the school.
A total of 92 schools reported 2004-2005 data that indicated they might be eligible for the list of "persistently dangerous" schools. They were asked to submit 2005-2006 data. Those data were evaluated, and 17 schools were designated "persistently dangerous."
Of the remaining 75 schools, 2005-2006 data they submitted indicated the total of serious incidents was relatively close to the threshold for the "persistently dangerous" designation.
A "watch list" of schools was created based on schools that met one of the following criteria:
An index of 1.25 for the 2005-2006 school year
A total of at least 50 serious incidents and an index of .40.
Ten schools were placed on the "watch list."
Commissioner Mills also announced that the State Education Department is taking the following actions to ensure accuracy in reporting of violent and disruptive incidents:
Monitoring and auditing of schools is ongoing. Data from 25 schools have been reviewed thus far. Those schools must have a chance to respond to the audits. When the process is complete, the final results will be announced publicly.
Priority for monitoring will be given to those schools that reported a large reduction in incidents between 2004-2005 and 2005-2006, schools that reported zero incidents, and schools where staff or community members have alleged that improprieties exist.
The purpose of the monitoring and site visits will be to:
Review violent and disruptive incident data reported by selected school districts,
Provide technical assistance that will improve data reports for the fall,
Identify what additional professional development is needed, and
Identify further actions that can improve our reporting system.
If as a result of the monitoring, any schools have underreported and should be on the list of "persistently dangerous" schools or the "watch list," they will be added.
Data for all schools for 2005-2006 will be collected by the late fall and their status determined.
Training sessions for school administrators are ongoing. So far this summer, staff from almost 600 districts have been trained.
The Regents and State Education Department will ask for 70 additional auditors and similar staff to improve school accountability, especially in the review of violent and disruptive incidents reported.
Schools statewide have reported the number of violent and disruptive incidents for 2004-2005. Data for 2005-2006 will be collected by late fall. This reporting is required by the State's SAVE legislation. Detailed information describing the kinds of incidents that must be reported is available on the State Education Department's web site.
Last year, for 2004-2005, the other 49 states reported a total of 23 schools as "persistently dangerous."