NYC School Crime Numbers Challenged by Pro-Charter Group

Published: August 4, 2017

While New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio claims that the 2016-2017 school year was the safest school year since 1998, a pro-charter school group claims at least 10,000 crimes were left out of the reported figures.

On Tuesday, Mayor de Blasio, New York Police Department Commissioner James O’Neill and Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina addressed the controversial issue of student safety in city schools, according to ABC 7 NY.

The meeting was held at the MS 88 School in Park Slope, a school which de Blasio says exemplifies safety.

The Department of Education and the New York City Police Department reported a five percent decrease in the number of major assaults in schools from the previous year, an eight percent decrease in school-related arrests, and an eleven percent decrease in summonses.

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Conflicting Opinions

On the same day, Families for Excellent Schools, a charter-school advocacy group, claimed that the state reported approximately 10,000 more school incidents in the 2015-2016 school year than the NYPD is claiming.

The state’s 2016-2017 figures are not yet available for comparison, reports the New York Post.

“Contrary to what Mayor de Blasio would have families believe, state data clearly shows that schools are less safe than ever before,” says the group’s CEO, Jeremiah Kittredge. “Failing to report 10,000 violent incidents covers up a crisis of this administration’s own making.”

De Blasio dismissed the discrepancy in data, claiming that trivial matters are often categorized in the state’s reporting system as serious.

Department of Education officials fought back against the claims as well, pointing out that a thrown milk carton was counted as an assault in the state’s 2016 data.

“We believe in the NYPD numbers,” says de Blasio. “The state of New York is going to have its own standards. That’s great. I believe in the way the NYPD handles public safety in the city of New York’s schools.”

How is Data Collected?

The data collected by the state comes from school employees who are mandated to report all incidents involving students to school administrators. The reported incidents are then handed off to Department of Education officials who categorize the reports according to state guidelines.

The Department of Education says revisions have been recently made to those guidelines as to “better reflect school conditions”.

The data collected by NYPD only includes incidents that involve school safety personnel or police. Incidents involving anyone outside of those roles are not included.

Gregory Floyd, president of the NYPD School Safety Agents Union, says his members often feel pressured to not report crimes.

The NYPD School Safety Division employs approximately 5,000 school safety agents and 200 police officers.

In 2016, Floyd claimed his agents were threatened with punishment from members of the NYPD after sharing information on weapons seizures with local media outlets.

“The mayor’s plan of deception is working,” says Floyd. “You have an underreporting of what is going on in schools, and the public has no way of knowing what’s going on because they’re covering it up.”

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