Suspecting that school administrators are underreporting violence, the New York State Education Department plans a hot line on which people could report stabbings, rapes, robberies, and lesser assaults in local schools, says the Albany Times Union. Officials hope to have the hot line running by September, allowing anonymous phone calls and e-mails. The reports would be considered in determining whether a school should be designated as “persistently dangerous,” and subject to sanctions.
A state report issued in January noted that early 25 percent of schools did not report any incidents of violent or disruptive behavior in mandated annual reports. Some local school officials fear that, without adequate safeguards, the state could be deluged with false reports from angry teenagers trying to settle scores against one another. “Things will be reported that didn’t actually happen,” said Jonathan Parks, principal of Saranac High School in Clinton County. Others welcomed the hot-line concept, assuming the state takes measures to verify the reports. Others welcome the idea. “I always cringe” when a school appears to be covering up or hiding a problem, said Alan Lubin of New York State United Teachers, the state’s major teachers union. A hot line, he said, should make it harder for schools to ignore problems and hope they go away.