Department of Education failed to report hundreds of violent, disruptive incidents: new audit

The report analyzed 10 schools — two in each borough — from 2011 to 2013.

The city’s Department of Education didn’t report more than 400 violent and disruptive incidents, and several schools didn’t prevent students from leaving without permission, according to a audit released Wednesday by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

The report analyzed 10 schools — two in each borough — from 2011 to 2013, concluding that several may have received an incorrect school violence rating as a result of the misreported information. Of those incidents, about a third were considered violent, including assaults, sexual offenses, and weapons possession.

Of the about 50 incidents the education department did report, DiNapoli said they were reported in a less serious category.

“The clear concern here is that when incidents don’t get reported, or are in effect downgraded, school children are put potentially in harms way,” said DiNapoli, a Democrat. “And from our point of view, the Department of Education can’t risk leaving parents uniformed about what’s going at their child’s school.”

The audit also found that students left nine of the schools without permission on 184 different occasions. In more than 96% of those instances, the school didn’t show any documentation that it tried to look for those missing students.

Jason Fink, a school’s spokesman, said the education department is fully compliant with Avonte’s Law. The law was approved by the City Council in July 2014 after 14-year-old autistic boy Avonte Oquendo ran away from his Long Island City school and was later found dead.

“We have completed a survey of all schools to determine where door alarms are needed and we have begun the work of installing them,” Fink said in a statement. “These alarms will provide schools officials with an additional tool that will allow them to respond quickly and ensure safe communities. With the partnership and support of the City Council, we have taken another step forward in our effort to provide safe, supportive and challenging learning environments for every student.”

Fink also said the methodology used to determine which incidents were reportable was flawed and they did indeed report all violent and disruptive incidents.

The report found the DOE reported 637 incidents during the 2011-2012 school year, but only reported 352 incidents during the 2012-2013 school year.

In one incident that was not reported a student in Manhattan punched another in the face and threw him into desks and onto the floor, according to the report.

Reporting these incidents is required under the state’s Safe Schools Against Violence in Education Act.

(With James T. Madore)

Alison Fox