Buffalo school isn’t reporting incidents correctly, says State

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A Buffalo high school isn’t correctly reporting violent and disruptive incidents, according to an audit by the New York State Comptroller’s Office. Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli audited seven schools in the state and found six of them had 935 unreported incidents.

The audit said Burgard Vocational High School, in Buffalo, used incorrect recording and reporting methodology. It couldn’t be studied correctly because of this and therefore it is not known by how much the school under-reported incidents. However, auditors still found Burgard should have reported more incidents than it did.

Burgard was one of two schools found to exceed the threshold the State Education Department uses to identify whether a school is potentially persistently dangerous.

DiNapoli recommended the State Education Department review Burgard’s incident records for the 2011-12 school year to determine if it should have been designated as persistently dangerous.

Other findings across NYS include:

  • East High School in Rochester reported 256 VADIR incidents, but auditors determined it should have reported 769, including two sex offenses that involved inappropriate sexual contact and 11 unreported weapons possession incidents
  • Schenectady High School failed to report 290 of the 1,824 incidents identified by auditors, including an arson and 11 drug possession incidents
  • Fulton Junior High School is Oswego county reported 289 incidents, but should have reported 368
  • Castleton Academy High School of Oceanside in Nassau County, did not report seven of the 15 incidents it should have
  • The Institute of Technology at Syracuse Central failed to report 26 of the 163 incidents it should have, including 11 incidents of intimidation, harassment, menacing or bullying
  • Pleasantville High School in Westchester County did not report 20 of the 36 incidents it should have, including ten incidents of intimidation, harassment, menacing or bullying

DiNapoli recommended the State Education Department:

  • Conduct and document a risk assessment related to compliance with the SAVE Act and VADIR requirements. Decide where to best focus limited resources to help schools enhance school safety and  improve the completeness and accuracy of VADIR reporting
  • Comply with provisions of the SAVE Act and the corresponding regulations that require SED to annually designate persistently dangerous schools, notify local educational agencies of the designation so they can notify parents timely of the option to transfer to a safe public school, if one is available
  • Report annual VADIR results to the Governor, the Legislature and the Board of Regents. Improve and enhance training efforts to reach more schools and provide targeted assistance to higher risk schools and school districts
  • Review Burgard’s and Fulton’s incident records for the 2011-12 school year and other years as applicable to determine if either school should have been designated persistently dangerous for 2011-12 or subsequent years and take appropriate corrective action

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