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State Education Department Issues Report on School Violence

By Mark Scott

Buffalo, NY – The State Education Department released its first annual report Thursday on violence and disruptive incidents in public schools in New York.

The report is required by the Governor and State Legislature under what's known as the "SAVE" or Safe Schools Against Violence in Education Act. But even the Education Department itself cautions the data are "unreliable."

For instance, it lists the Cattaraugus Little Valley Middle School as having the most reports of violent and disruptive incidents during the 2002-2003 school year. But Department spokesman Tom Dunn says there's a valid explanation for that.

"One thing we found is that the tolerance and acceptance level in smaller school districts was significantly lower than it was in larger districts," Dunn said. "So, you may be finding that smaller rural districts have a different threshhold for what they would report."

Dunn says the Education Department hopes to more clearly define what is violent and what is merely disruptive or horse-play for use in future reports.

"We hope that working together with the Legislature, we can develop more reliable categories and definitions for them," Dunn said.

The State Education Department report shows that during the 2002-2003 school year there were 643 violent or disruptive incidents in the Buffalo Public School System. The district also reported 176 incidents of weapons possession.