EDUCATION DEPARTMENT / THE UNIVERSITY
OF THE STATE OF
Jean C. Stevens
Statewide Compliance with the Uniform Violent Incident
Reporting System and Criteria for Designation of Persistently Dangerous
June 16, 2006
Goals 1 and 2
Issue for Discussion
Does the Board of Regents concur with the approach being undertaken to ensure statewide compliance with the uniform violent incident reporting system and designation of persistently dangerous schools?
Required by State and federal
This question will come before the Regents EMSC-VESID Committee on June 19, 2006.
The Board of Regents discussed unsafe school choice provisions under the No Child Left Behind Act and criteria for the identification of persistently dangerous schools in June 2003 and adopted amendments to Commissioner’s Regulations to comply with federal and State legislation. In June 2005, the Regents received a report on violent and disruptive incident reporting and the criteria for identifying persistently dangerous schools in 2005. It included information on the establishment of a school violence index and a supportive learning environment index.
In November 2005, the Regents discussed a proposed amendment to section 100.2 (gg) of the Commissioner’s Regulations that would provide a ranking system, standard for reporting, and more concise definitions of offenses for incidents that are required to be reported, pursuant to Education Law section 2802, by the uniform violent and disruptive incident reporting system by school districts, BOCES, charter schools and county vocational education and extension boards. It also established the use of a school violence index as a comparative measure of the level of school violence in a school. In January 2006, the Board of Regents discussed policy issues related to the designation of schools as persistently dangerous. Staff agreed to return in June 2006 to seek their consensus regarding the actions that are being proposed.
The major incident categories that are being
proposed for both the identification of potentially persistently dangerous
schools and designation of persistently dangerous schools have been identified
after consultation with executive branch, legislative, law enforcement and
education staff and the Division of Criminal Justice Services. The categories
represent serious offenses that threaten the safety and welfare of the student
body. They include, in order of weighting, homicide, forcible sex offenses,
other sex offenses, robbery, assault resulting in serious physical or physical
injury, arson, kidnapping, the use of weapons in lower level offenses and
weapons possession only. Reckless endangerment is not being proposed for use
this year in the calculation of the school violence transitional index as
reported incident counts in this category appear to contain anomalies. The
Department will concentrate efforts on ensuring that all districts report this
information consistently in subsequent years. Weightings were agreed to after
considerable conversation with local education agency staff and are responsive
to the concerns of schools that use proactive strategies to detect and
confiscate weapons. The proposed weightings for offenses are included in more
detail in the attached report.
The 2003-04 data indicated that schools with
large enrollments often appeared to have a very high tolerance for serious
incidents before they reach the index established both for identifying schools
as potentially persistently dangerous and designating schools as persistently
dangerous. The threshold was established based on incidents per enrollment. This
system allows many incidents to occur at a school with a large enrollment before
it reaches the standard threshold.
The Department is proposing a new system that factors both total incidents that occur in a building as well as those that reach a certain school violence index computed by enrollment. This dual system helps to eliminate any bias established by large enrollments and ensures that schools do not just qualify based on the size of their enrollment. The following chart compares the 2005-06 process used to identify schools as persistently dangerous schools with the proposed process for 2006-07.
Comparison of School Year 2005-2006 vs.
2006-2007 Process for Identification of Schools as Persistently
point values per incident
point values per incident
alignment of weighting to violent incident
for Preliminary Identification as Persistently
were identified as persistently dangerous based solely on their
are identified either based on their index or based upon their index and
the number of weighted incidents that occur at the
were permitted to revise 03-04 data upon phone contact or submission of a
letter documenting reasons for change.
are required to submit written documentation to change their
year data used for identification
for preliminary identification; 2004-05 for final
for preliminary identification; 2005-06 for final
based upon most recent school year performance
must demonstrate that its index has been reduced by a certain amount and
is below a specific threshold
must demonstrate that its index has been reduced by a certain amount and
is below a specific threshold or that it has fallen below the total
weighted incident threshold for preliminary
The approval of the above-referenced recommendations will result in a larger number of schools being both identified as potentially persistently dangerous and designated as persistently dangerous than in past years. It is important, therefore, to continue to employ a two-step process of identification that includes subsequent steps that acknowledge unique situations that may result in “false-positive” findings. Two new and two existing steps are provided for your review.
We seek the Committee’s consensus on the approach the Department has proposed.
Staff will report to the Regents in August 2006 on the identification of schools designated as persistently dangerous.
Project SAVE (Safe Schools Against Violence
in Education Act) was passed by the New York State Legislature and signed into
law by Governor George E. Pataki as Chapter 181 of the Laws of 2000 to address
issues of school safety and violence prevention. Among other things, the SAVE legislation
added a new section 2802 to the Education Law requiring the establishment of the
uniform violent incident reporting system (UVIRS).
of Regents, in response to the legislation, amended Section 100.2 (gg) of the
Regulations of the Commissioner of Education in 2001 to establish the uniform
violent incident reporting system. The regulation was developed in consultation
with the Division of Criminal Justice Services and legislative and executive
staff. The regulation used
definitions of crimes taken from the Penal Law and required schools to record
information on violent and disruptive incidents beginning with the 2001-02
school year. Each school is
required to complete and maintain a record on each reportable violent or
disruptive incident. In addition,
each school must provide a summary of these incidents by using a Summary Form
for Reporting Violent and Disruptive Incidents that is submitted as part of the
Basic Educational Data System (BEDS). Each school district and BOCES is required
to include a summary of the data in its school district or BOCES report card.
The following is a list of policy issues that were initially shared with
the Board of Regents in January 2006. At that time, staff indicated that they
would return in June with more detail and recommendations for the designation of
persistently dangerous schools. The policy issues are:
1. The timely, accurate and
consistent reporting of data by school districts.
2. The establishment of an
incentive/sanction system that promotes the accurate reporting of
incidents and effective interventions in schools.
The identification and weighting of
incidents used in designating a school as potentially persistently
The elimination of identification bias
due to large or small enrollments.
The process to determine which schools
that have been preliminarily identified should be designated as
The support to be given to schools
participating in violence reduction initiatives and those identified as
Detail on each of the
policy issues is provided below.
Policy Issue #1: The timely, accurate and
consistent reporting of data by school
2006 is the first year that school buildings were asked to submit data electronically to the Department. The form has been completed by school buildings across the State and there has been minimal or no confusion in its use. The guidance provided to districts in completing the form is generally considered to be user friendly. We expect to continue to refine the electronic submission process as we move forward and will continue to solicit feedback from the field to improve the process.
Despite an extensive staff development
initiative targeted at providing district staff the necessary information
required to report violent and disruptive incidents accurately and thoroughly, a
recent audit conducted by the Office of the State Comptroller raises serious
concerns about the reporting of violence and disruptive incidents. These
concerns confirm some of the issues previously identified by the Board of
Regents. In response, the Commissioner sent a letter to school district
superintendents identifying a series of steps that will be taken to ensure the
safety of children. The steps
Convening a representative group of school
leaders to advise about actions that the Department and local education staff
can take together to correct these issues;
Requesting additional cooperation from
superintendents and their staff in ensuring that school data are accurate and
complete by carefully reviewing the data that are required to be submitted under
the Safe Schools Against Violence in Education Act;
· Reminding schools of the availability of resource tools that are accessed through the web page such as definitions and a glossary of terms, the forms, and instructions for filling out the forms;
· Scheduling additional training for school officials across the State beginning this summer. In addition, as questions arise over time about the recording of data, Department staff will be available to answer them; and
· Scheduling visits to various schools that will serve four purposes:
-- Review violent and disruptive
incident data reported by selected school districts;
-- Provide technical assistance
that will improve data reports for 2005-2006;
-- Identify what additional
professional development is needed; and
-- Identify further actions that
can improve our reporting system.
In addition to these steps, intensive monthly discussions between SED and New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) staffs, including Commissioner Mills and Chancellor Klein, have resulted in the following:
· On March 30, 2006, the NYCDOE submitted to SED the information required for the 2004-2005 federal Guns-Free School Report.
On April 7, 2006, the NYCDOE submitted a UVIRS
database for all
· NYCDOE submitted to SED a narrative to be included in the required Project SAVE report to the Governor and the Legislature discussing NYCDOE’s data collection strategies and challenges.
As a result of a June 2006 conversation between
Commissioner Mills and Chancellor Klein, agreement was reached that the NYCDOE
will devote all necessary resources to provide a full UVIRS submission to
Policy Issue #2: The establishment of an
incentive/sanction system that promotes the accurate reporting of
incidents and effective interventions in school.
The issue of both under and inaccurate
reporting of data are best addressed through the development of a system that
provides the appropriate blend of incentives and sanctions that helps win school
district compliance in responding to the requirement to report violent and
disruptive incidents. The efforts described above – which include refinement of
the reporting system, continuing to provide professional development and
conducting site visits to select schools – should help move schools towards the
full compliance goal.
Another incentive for reporting accurately
is the awareness that the reporting will be audited on a regular basis. The
Department expects to use the combined capacity of the SED statewide and
regional networks and SED staff to conduct audits of violent and disruptive
incident reporting. The final incentive for reporting accurately is very strong
disciplinary measures that will be enforced if a school official is discovered
to be willfully under and/or inaccurately reporting data.
Policy Issue #3: The identification and weighting
of incidents used in designating a school as potentially persistently
The major incident categories that are used
for the identification of potentially persistently dangerous and designation of
persistently dangerous schools have been identified after consultation with
executive branch, legislative, law enforcement, education staff and the Division
of Criminal Justice Services. The categories represent serious offenses that
threaten the safety and welfare of the student body. They include, in order of
weighting, Level 1 offenses such as homicide, forcible sex offenses, other sex
offenses, robbery, assault resulting in serious physical or physical injury,
arson, kidnapping, and Level 2 offenses such as the use of weapons in lower
level offenses and weapons possession only. Reckless endangerment, which is a
Level 1 offense, is not being proposed for use this year in the calculation of
the school violence index as reported incident counts in this category appear to
contain anomalies. The Department will concentrate efforts on ensuring that all
districts report this information consistently in subsequent years.
Weightings were agreed to after considerable
conversation with local education agency staff and State partners and are
responsive to the concerns of schools that use proactive strategies to detect
and confiscate weapons. Throughout the process of establishing the
weightings, certain assumptions remained constant:
As discussions with the field continued,
additional areas of consensus emerged:
Proposed Weightings for Identification of Persistently Dangerous Schools
Homicide, Forcible Sex Offenses, Other Sex Offenses, Robbery, Assault with Serious Physical Injury, Assault with Physical Injury, Arson, and Kidnapping
Disruptive Incidents With Weapons
Minor Altercations, Intimidation, Harassment, Menacing, Bullying, Burglary, Criminal Mischief, Larceny, Riot, Weapons Possession
Level 1 incidents are weighted the same regardless of whether they occur with or
without a weapon (i.e., kidnapping with a weapon and kidnapping without a weapon
will have the same weight). Level 2 incidents are weighted only if they occur
with a weapon. Level 2 incidents that do not involve the use of a weapon are
given a weighting of zero (i.e., burglary without a weapon is not weighted but
burglary with a weapon would be weighted). Weapons possession incidents receive
a lower weighting than incidents that involve the use of weapons. This is
responsive to the concerns voiced by school districts that use proactive means
to detect and confiscate weapons.
Issue #4: The elimination of
reporting bias due to large or small
The index threshold established by the
Department to both identify schools as potentially persistently dangerous and to
designate schools as persistently dangerous is computed based on enrollment.
When applied using 2003-04 data, it was evident that a very high number of
incidents would have to occur at a school with a large enrollment before the
index threshold was reached. This reporting bias needs to be
States such as Georgia, Idaho,
Massachusetts, Missouri, and Nebraska have provisions that are not enrollment
sensitive, and others, such as Nevada, Oregon and South Dakota, have established
lower tolerance factors for larger schools or have established a violent
incident threshold that, once met, results in a school being designated as
The Department is proposing a new system
that factors both total incidents that occur in a building, and the index
computed by enrollment. This will help to eliminate any bias established by
large enrollments and ensures that schools are not identified based only on the
size of their enrollment.
#5. The process to determine which schools that
have been preliminarily identified should be designated as persistently
In seeking to develop a method and a
threshold for determining which schools should be identified as persistently
dangerous, the Department worked within the following
To the degree practicable, the weightings
developed as a result of consultation with the field should be employed to
The use of weightings must have face validity
(i.e., homicide must be rated higher than weapons
The methodology should take into account the
special circumstance of both large and small
It was anticipated that an appropriate methodology would likely yield a preliminary group of schools that would:
Include schools from all need-resource categories
and from all geographic regions.
Include schools from all grade configurations but
would have proportionally more high schools than middle schools and more middle
schools than elementary schools.
Have proportionally more large schools than small
Identify a significant number of schools that are
known through media reports and other means to have had school violence issues.
The Department explored various data models,
each with various degrees of success in achieving the above-mentioned
parameters. Among the models
considered were those that based preliminary
on the use of a school violence index based on weighting developed after
consultation with the field;
on the use of a modified school violence index developed after review of data
submitted by school districts.
on the number of serious offenses at a school regardless of the school violence
combination of the school violence index and the number of serious incidents
that occurred at the school.
The combination model produced the results
that were most consistent with the above parameters. To determine whether a
school is preliminarily identified as persistently dangerous, the Department
should calculate an index for each school.
The index is calculated by multiplying the number of incidents in each
category by the weighting for the category and dividing the sum of these results
by the school’s enrollment. The index will
be used to identify schools in the following manner:
reaches or exceeds a threshold index score;
The school has
an index score of a certain level and its total number of violent incidents has
reached or exceeded a specified total incident number
The approval of the
above-referenced steps would result in a larger number of schools being both
identified as potentially persistently dangerous and designated as persistently
dangerous than in past years. It is important, therefore, to continue to employ
a two-step process of identification that includes subsequent steps that
acknowledge unique situations that may result in “false-positive” findings. This
is accomplished through a system that provides school districts with the
a review of 2004-2005 school year data to ensure that it has been accurately
reported. The Department remains
significantly concerned with the issue of districts that underreport violent and
disruptive incidents. At the same time, it also appears that some districts in
2004-2005 may have classified some incidents as serious that more appropriately
should have been reported in less serious categories or may have submitted
duplicate counts of incidents. Districts that are concerned that this occurred
may request that SED review their data submission.
a second year of violent and disruptive incident data using the most current
data available (see, 8 NYCRR §120.5[a] ). Those data will also be analyzed before
a final designation is made.
school districts with the opportunity to submit additional appropriate data to
explain why the designation is not appropriate (see, 8 NYCRR §120.5[a]
). School districts may wish
the Department to consider such factors as:
school has an aggressive weapons scanning program that results in the school
reporting many incidents of weapons possession but few or no incidents of other
violent or disruptive behavior.
school serves primarily or exclusively students with severe emotional
disabilities or histories of violent and/or aggressive behavior and has
well-developed behavior management systems in place.
school has a small enrollment and the actions of a single student or a few
students, who may no longer attend the school, were sufficient for the school to
be preliminarily identified.
school, effective with the 2006-2007 school year, will be significantly
redesigned or restructured.
The additional data submitted will be
assessed by a panel with expertise in school safety and student support
services. The panel will make a
recommendation to the Commissioner regarding whether a designation of the school
as persistently dangerous is warranted.
Issue #6: The support to be
given to schools participating in violence reduction initiatives and those
identified as persistently dangerous.
The designation of a school as a persistently dangerous location should
trigger a series of responses by the Department to assist the school. Currently,
district staff develops an Incident Reduction Plan (IRP) for schools identified
as persistently dangerous. The IRP identifies the activities that the district
will adopt to correct the situation at the school. Often these districts lack
the resources to meaningfully confront the “root causes” of the problems. The
Department has for years assisted schools that have been identified as under
registration review because of low academic performance. The Department has a
similar responsibility to schools designated as persistently dangerous and is in
the process of committing staff and financial resources to these schools. The
Department has identified a pool of resources that are available to districts
with persistently dangerous schools. These resources are available through an
application process that identifies the activities that the districts will take
to correct the situations. The activities are required to be tied into the IRP.
In addition, the Department proposes to make available significant support and
assistance to districts that self-identify schools for participation in a
violent incident reduction program.
Time Line for
Persistently Dangerous Designation
Pursuant to State regulation and federal guidance, the timeline for designating persistently dangerous schools is as follows:
Section 120.5 (a) of the Commissioner’s Regulations
· Each year the Commissioner shall notify the local educational agency (LEA) of those schools which may be persistently dangerous by July 1st.
· The LEA is then provided an opportunity to present evidence to the Commissioner that conditions in the school do not unreasonably threaten the safety of students, that it has taken appropriate action(s) to improve the safety at the school, and any other evidence in support of its position that the school should not be designated as persistently dangerous.
· The Commissioner shall request that the LEA submit, by a prescribed date, uniform violent incident reporting (UVIR) data for the current school year.
· After reviewing two years of UVIR data and any evidence presented by the LEA, the Commissioner must make a final determination as to whether the school is persistently dangerous and notify the LEA of this determination by August 1st.
· When transfer options exist, the LEA shall notify the parents of their right to transfer their child or children to a safe public school within the LEA and procedures for such transfer no later than 10 days after being notified by the Commissioner that the school has been designated as persistently dangerous.
According to USDOE’s Unsafe School Choice Option Non-Regulatory Guidance, May 2004, LEAs must offer students who attend persistently dangerous schools the opportunity to transfer to a safe public school, when transfer options exist, at least 14 calendar days before the start of the school year.
Preliminary list established
July 1, 2006
Letter sent to schools on preliminary list requesting 2005-06 data and other data for the Commissioner to consider that would mitigate the designation of the school as persistently dangerous
July 1, 2006
Complete review of 2005-06 and additional data
July 28, 2006
Final determination of persistently dangerous schools
July 31, 2006
Final Notification of persistently dangerous schools
August 1, 2006