Buffalo school officials respond to state audit

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – An audit from the New York State Comptroller Office says Buffalo’s Burgard Vocational High School isn’t properly reporting violent and disruptive incidents.

The audit of the 2011-2012 school year looked at seven schools outside of New York City. It identified 935 unreported incidents at six schools.

It states that Burgard’s incorrect recording and methodology prohibited the state from knowing how much the school documented in the 2011-12 school year.

“In 2011, when the district was converting from a paper system to an electronic system we were not keeping all of the records for incidents that did not result in a suspension, “ Dr. Will Keresztes, the associate school superintendent of the Buffalo Public Schools, said.

State records indicate that Burgard High School had 766 overall incidents in the 2011 school year. They also state that Burgard had more than 1000 incidents the next year.

However when you look at the stats for violence, the numbers decreased from 2011 to 2012. Thirty seven violent incidents took place in 2011. In 2012, 15 were reported.

“Burgard High School is one of our high schools on the rise. So we’re very proud of the progress that they’ve made over the years,” Dr. Keresztes said. “And even the governor’s office has recognized the great partnerships that are going on in Burgard high school.”

“We don’t have that many violent incidents like people think here at Burgard,” Tom Romano, a teacher at Burgard said. “I haven’t seen a fight in a long time. We really don’t have violent incidents.”

The President of the Buffalo Teachers Federation, Phil Rumore believes the incidents are more prevalent than what’s reported.

“That’s not the only school. I wish they had the capacity to do all of our schools. Because for example Riverside High School, they have a lot of incidents that are not reported there,” Rumore said. “I think the most important thing is for people to know the facts.”

Even though the district said their numbers are off because they were transferring from one system to another, Rumore said that’s not an excuse. “I don’t care what the system was. The bottom line is this. There should be no difference between the paper system and any other system. The facts are the facts.”

The Comptroller’s Office asked the State Education Department to review Burgard’s records to determine if it should be listed as a persistently dangerous school.

Dr. Keresztes said they welcome the state to come in and do a review. “We have asked State Education Department to come in and double check our scoring of those incidents. If they disagree with anything that was scored, they’ll let us know and we’ll make those corrections.”

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