City council member Robert Jackson spoke a rally for the Student Safety Act last week.
City council member Robert Jackson spoke at a rally for the School Safety Act last week.

Nineteen schools in New York state – including 16 from the city – were deemed “persistently dangerous,” down from 27 last year, the state department of education announced today. Eight schools are new to the list, while sixteen were removed as a result of reporting fewer incidents. The list is based on the number of serious incidents relative to the number of students, and the seriousness of those incidents.

Under the No Child Left Behind act, students have the right to transfer out of persistently dangerous schools, although the late-summer release of this list would seem to make transfer difficult for many families. NCLB requires that the list be released no more than two weeks before the start of the school year.

According to the state, schools removed from the list improved safety by developing and enforcing a code of conduct, creating and practicing plans for responding to serious situations, increasing personal support for students, and using data to target interventions.

In its announcement, the state emphasized site visits and other steps taken to ensure accurate reporting. Critics have charged that the city under-reports serious incidents, and a 2007 report from the public advocate’s office found that principals surveyed reported more incidents than the city did.

Here in the city, in response to concerns about misconduct by school safety agents, the Student Safety Act was introduced to the City Council last week. The bill would require quarterly reporting of school safety incidents and provide additional oversight of school safety agents by the Civilian Complaint Review Board.

Meanwhile, GothamSchools has been looking at ways educators can work towards safer schools – more on that tomorrow.