Discrepancies between the number of incidents of violence reported by Pennsylvania school officials and by police agencies in that state raise questions about the validity of school safety date collected under Pennsylvania’s Safe Schools Act, says the Harrisburg Patriot-News. The newspaper compared violence figures collected by school officials with those compiled by law enforcement agencies for 2002-2003 and 2003-2004 and found that the school data substantially undercounted incidents of aggravated assault, assault, bomb threats, and weapons offenses.
In some cases, school officials left out incidents that were reported by law enforcement agencies; in others, they reported instances that were not required under state law. As a consequence, police reports showed incidents of violence had increased by 61 percent between the two periods, while school officials reported they had declined by 35 percent. The Patriot-News reported that the discrepancies do not reflect a long-term trend in school violence but do cast doubt on the validity of the reporting program which is used to distribute more than $20 million in grants aimed at improving student safety in the state’s schools.