Are schools doctoring discipline statistics?
The recent assault of a teacher by a student at Reginald F. Lewis High has highlighted a number of serious concerns facing schools right now. I have been most disturbed by the claims that administrators are not reporting certain disciplinary incidents to alter school statistics.
I must stress that the student in this recent case was suspended from school immediately following the incident. I am focusing more on the teachers union's claims that incidents like this are frequent and often unreported.
Marietta English, co-president of the Baltimore Teachers Union, said her office has been receiving two or three complaints a day of assaults on teachers, many of which are not reported to the school system or police, according to Sara Neufeld’s story.
The union has long claimed that administrators aren't reporting violent incidents or doing enough to punish children who are violent, for fear their schools will be labeled "persistently dangerous" under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, Sara’s story says.
A persistently dangerous school is defined in Maryland by the number of suspensions for violent offenses, not the number of offenses itself.
This isn’t just a problem in Baltimore.
My mother – a retired principal in Syracuse, New York – last night said she discussed this matter with some of her former peers, and it is common knowledge that some schools to not report certain disciplinary actions. (For the record, my mother detests this practice.)
Dr. Alonso has threatened to fire anyone in Baltimore city schools who does not report these incidents, Sara told me when I talked to her a few minutes ago.
The system says it has expelled students for assaults on staff members 112 times this school year, compared with 98 at this time last year.
School officials point to the slight increase in expulsions as a result of Dr. Alonso's policy, Sara told me.
Are schools are doctoring their discipline numbers to avoid: a negative community reaction, or an “unsafe schools” label?