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State Audit Faults Schools for Failing to Report Violence

By Mark Scott

Albany, NY – The state comptroller in a report Monday says schools across New York are failing to report violent incidents and the state Education Department is doing little to fix the problem.

Comptroller Alan Hevesi says educators are denying parents the data they could use to transfer their children to safer schools.

Auditors from Hevesi's office reviewed the data kept by 15 school districts, including Niagara Falls, and compared it to what they reported to the state Education Department. Ten districts didn't report at least a third of violent incidents, and five didn't report at least 80 percent.

Niagara Falls High School failed to report 553 of 624 violent incidents, or 89 percent.

"We simply cannot ignore the fact that violence is occurring in schools in urban, suburban and rural settings all around the state. It is essential to get information about this problem so that we can work to make our schools safer for all children and to direct young people who are involved in violence toward productive and law-abiding adulthood," Hevesi said.

Education Commissioner Richard Mills says his department is taking a series of actions to improve the reporting of violent and disruptive incidents.

"Creating a safe environment is critical and fundamental for learning," Mills said. "More must -- and will -- be done to get full compliance."

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