NYS Comptroller: Some schools are under-reporting bullying, harassment

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WIVB) — New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli says some New York schools are under-reporting bullying and harassment incidents.

Auditors visited 20 schools, outside of New York City, in the state. Here is what they found:

  • Some schools underreported incidents or failed to report them at all, including one case in which a school failed to report cyberbullying despite the fact that police were involved;
  • Another school failed to report a pattern of bullying that had persisted since the victim’s prior attendance at another school;
  • Some incident reports were so short on important details — one report only referred to “name calling,” for example — that it was impossible to determine if they were reportable under the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA);
  • Seventeen of the schools said they struggle with interpreting or implementing DASA guidance and reporting requirements;
  • At one school the person responsible for electronically entering DASA incident information was unable to demonstrate how to enter a DASA incident;
  • Schools said they continue to have difficulty identifying what comprises a material incident that needs to be reported and they struggle with differing conceptions of what constitutes “bullying,”
  • Several schools did not train non-educational staff on DASA, creating a risk that bullying incidents that these staff witness or learn about may not be addressed appropriately, if at all; and
  • Although each school has a Dignity Act Coordinator trained to mediate incidents in areas of race, religion, gender, and sexual orientation, most of the schools did not provide the Coordinator’s name and contact information to staff, students and parents.

According to DiNapoli’s audit, the problems were caused by “school personnel’s lack of knowledge, experience, and training in identifying, documenting, investigating, and reporting DASA incidents.”

MORE | See the report from the Comptroller’s office here.

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