Official Delaware Bullying Report Shows Too Many Schools Are Fudging Numbers And Reasons For Bullying

The Delaware Dept. of Education officially released their 2015-2016 school bullying report.  The report has a lot of good information, but how they lumped certain schools together is just wrong.  One thing to keep in mind is that these reports only reflect what is submitted to the Delaware DOE through the eSchool tracking system.

Charter schools are listed in two categories: those in New Castle County and the rest that are in Kent and Sussex counties.  For the vo-tech school districts, they are listed as “technical” schools.  Which is ironic because there are more students in each vo-tech then in Delmar School District.  As well, the Vo-Techs are all high schools.  The report does not give a breakdown of schools or the grades for the students.  Those are pretty important parts which would give a more accurate picture about what goes on with bullying.

What this report does not reflect is the amount of times teachers may want to submit a bullying report but they are ignored by administration at the school.  Or if bullying is weighted less in an incident over something like offensive touching (most likely fighting) so a bullying incident is not reported by the school.  I believe if a fight starts because of bullying, that should be recorded as well.

The actual report by the DOE lists the alleged incidents over the past five years separately from the substantiated incidents.  This does not give a reader an accurate reflection of true trends within a district or the DOE’s own self-created “districts”.  For as much as the DOE brags about their data capabilities and need for tracking data, this report is lacking in a great deal of information.  Luckily for you, I spent a few hours breaking it down and putting it all together.  The first number for each year is the alleged number of bullying reports submitted by the school.  The second number is the amount of those reports that were substantiated as bullying.  I have some insight after the numbers…

Appoquinimink

12-13     233        73          31.3%

13-14     164        24           14.6%

14-15     237         32           13.5%

15-16     304        35           11.5%

Brandywine

12-13     108        93          86.1%

13-14     63          79           125.4%*

14-15     37          37           100%

15-16     49          21           42.9%

Caesar Rodney

12-13     211        32           15.2%

13-14     118        40           33.9%

14-15     75          14           18.7%

15-16     103        27           26.2%

Cape Henlopen

12-13     42          19           45.2%

13-14     39          13           33.3%

14-15     77          26           33.85

15-16     53          18           34.0%

Capital

12-13     80          28           35.0%

13-14     58          25           65.8%

14-15     51          18           35.3%

15-16     28          15          53.6%

Christina

12-13     130        65           50.0%

13-14     114        38           33.3%

14-15     183        65           47.1%

15-16     134        55           41.0%

Colonial

12-13     248        44           17.7%

13-14     97          37           38.1%

14-15     81          63           77.7%

15-16     116        50          43.1%

Delmar

12-13     90          10           11.1%

13-14     0              6              0 0.0%*

14-15     58          3              5.2%

15-16     25          2             8.0%

Indian River

12-13     215        39          18.1%

13-14     150        25          16.7%

14-15     92          21          22.8%

15-16     252        51          20.2%

Lake Forest

12-13     49          37          75.5%

13-14     30          12          40.0%

14-15     34          1             3.0%

15-16     58          12          20.7%

Laurel

12-13     18          23          127.8%*

13-14     37          18          48.6%

14-15     28          12          42.9%

15-16     27          16          59.3%

Milford

12-13     116        20          17.2%

13-14     31          26          83.9%

14-15     37          15          40.5%

15-16     43          23          53.5%

Red Clay

12-13     596        121        20.3%

13-14     453        132        29.1%

14-15     415        102        24.6%

15-16     428        61          14.3%

Seaford

12-13     28          16          57.1%

13-14     17          18           105.9%*

14-15     34          8              23.5%

15-16     40          21          52.5%

Smyrna

12-13     69          13          18.8%

13-14     47          18          38.3%

14-15     57          20          35.1%

15-16     55          19          34.5%

Woodbridge

12-13     34          8              23.5%

13-14     15          10           66.7%

14-15     4             1              25.0%

15-16     25          9              36.0%

Technical Schools (the three vo-tech school districts)

12-13     44          36           81.8%

13-14     30          67           223.3%*

14-15     18          67           372.2%*

15-16     37          42           113.5%*

Charters: NCC

12-13     89          9              10.1%

13-14     107        22           20.6%

14-15     134        28           20.9%

15-16     125        17           13.6%

Charters: Kent and Sussex

12-13     46          27           58.7%

13-14     72          22           30.6%

14-15     54          10           18.5%

15-16     69          20           29.0%

 

State Totals

12-13     2446      713         29.15%

13-14     1642      632         38.49%

14-15     1706      543         31.8%

15-16     1971      514         26.1%

 

Okay, first off, what the hell is up with the Vo-Tech numbers?  How can you have more substantiated bullying incidents and less actual reporting of alleged incidents?  It doesn’t make any mathematical sense whatsoever.  And the fact this has continued for three years in a row, someone at the DOE is dropping the ball.  Or the DOE messed up the report.  If it is the former, why isn’t the DOE giving technical assistance to the vo-techs on how to accurately report bullying?  If it is the latter, come on guys!  I’ve been asking for this report for weeks but you need to check your numbers.  Aside from the vo-techs, any of the above entries with an asterisk next to it shows the same mathematical anomaly.  With all due respect, John Sadowski runs the school climate and discipline unit at the DOE and I have always found him to be very helpful when I look for information.

I don’t trust a lot of these numbers.  I don’t believe many of our schools are actually reporting everything to the DOE.  Nor do I believe a lot of the substantiated numbers.  I will give a margin of error for students filing false claims or parents overreacting.  But not that big of a margin!  In the first year of this required reporting, I can give some slack as schools tried to figure it all out.  But it is three years later so there should be no excuses.  I don’t like the downward trend in substantiated bullying that is happening as a state, especially in districts like Red Clay, Appoquinimink and the New Castle County charters.  I don’t like the lack of consistency across the districts and charters.  I don’t believe any of the substantiated numbers that are below 35%, and that is stretching the credibility factor on my part.  I’ve always felt many schools in our state do less than the bare minimum when it comes to bullying reporting.  This report proves it.

What makes the reporting given by the schools even more unbelievable is the listed reason for the substantiated bullying incident.  “Peer Attention” and “Other” make up over two thirds of the listed reasons.  That sparks of laziness on the school’s part.  Almost anything could be put into those categories.  But they fail to capture a true reason for the victim of the bullying and why a bully would target someone.  For all the anti-bullying campaigns in schools, if we can’t get accuracy in the reporting of it we won’t be able to eradicate bullying unless we truly understand what is going on.  We need honesty and fairness.  If schools are operating in an environment of fear in reporting truthfully with bullying, then we need to tackle that as well.  But no school is doing anyone any favors by not reporting what is actually happening.  And if teachers continue to be ignored by administrators over bullying reporting, that is something legislation should take care of as soon as possible.

bullying5yrreasons

Here is the actual report issued by the Delaware DOE:

 

 

Delaware School Safety Report Shows Severe Limitations In Our Schools For Controlling Violence

If we are to have a chance to reduce and reverse this type of behavior, it is necessary to begin early and to start in the home. Efforts must be made to reach out students and to provide them with positive new directions in elementary school. Several committee members pointed out that “middle school is too late.”

“If joining a gang is the only way to survive, the kids will join gangs,” one committee member said, adding, “A lot of teachers don’t know who gang members are. You, as a teacher, should know how to interact with kids and parents because kids and parents may not have the ability to interact with us.”

The committee discussed the possibility of cell phone bans in schools, but public schools in Delaware have not done so because parents want to be able to reach their children by phone.

These were just a few of the topics discussed in the Special Committee on Public Safety.

School safety.  Two words that mean so many things to so many people.  To some, it means making sure every single student and staff member is protected from violence.  To some it means reporting requirements.  Many think of Sandy Hook or Columbine.  Others think of a mounting problem that can never be corrected.

Earlier this year, in the wake of two very violent deaths in Wilmington, a group was formed by Senator Robert Marshall.  Marshall is the Chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee.  He formed a group that met twice to discuss school safety issues with various topics introduced.  Out of these meetings, Senate Concurrent Resolution #83 formed a Special Committee on School Safety.  The final report was given to the President Pro Tempore of the Delaware Senate and Governor Markell yesterday.

The below report has a great deal of information.  It is very long but it is worth the read.  Take the time to read it.  Every single word.  Whether you are for or against School Resource Officers or Constables in Delaware schools, it is important to know what is happening out there.  It affects every single citizen of this state.  Issues in schools can explode outside of schools often, but issues outside of schools are brought into schools all the time.

The one thing I took out of this report is there are no easy answers.  Issues around funding and legality are some of the biggest obstacles to making schools safer.  Trauma plays a huge role in our high-needs schools.  Family issues outside of school are one of the biggest obstacles to safe schools.

There was one recommendation coming out of the final report that I didn’t see discussed anywhere in the meeting minutes.

Provide funding for the Delaware Department of Education to conduct a voluntary, statewide survey among students, parents, and teachers to get their thoughts on improving the learning environment and ways to make our schools safer.

It can’t be a report on education in Delaware without the Delaware Dept. of Education inserting something they want, which usually involves them getting more money.  One important thing to take note of in this report is that Delaware Senator David Sokola and State Rep. Earl Jaques were both listed as members of this committee but neither went to any of the meetings on it or bothered to assign a designee to attend in their absence.

The parts about Senate Bill 207, which I also issued severe problems with, were echoed by many in regards to future under-reporting of incidents in schools.  I thank God the House added an amendment to the bill that still requires mandatory reporting to the Delaware DOE.  But there is one line about Senate Bill 207 in the final report which will give any Delaware citizen severe anxiety.

Smyrna Assistant Superintendent Patrik William’s Hysterical Letter To Delaware DOE

This regulation, in my view, is akin to a bunch of model rocket enthusiasts crafting a regulation for NASA astronauts governing their space missions.

I love this!  I have never met the Assistant Superintendent of the Smyrna School District, but when I do I am certainly going to shake his hand!  Thank you Patrik Williams!  The below letter is in regards to a pending regulation coming before the State Board of Education at their meeting next week.  It deals with “Uniform Due Process Procedures for Alternative Placement Meetings and Expulsion Hearings”.  Mr. Williams definitely didn’t like the way this regulation was worded, but some of his comments had me rolling on the floor!

And to see the full regulation, please read below:

Only in Delaware…

Glitch In DOE Reporting Fails To Show School Offenses & Crimes Data For Charter School of Wilmington, Delaware College Prep, & Delaware Military Academy

How about those apples? I actually found a huge technicality in the DOE reporting system for bullying and the DOE fixed it in record time.  Contrary to popular belief, things at the Red Clay charter schools are NOT as rosy as the past couple years of bullying and discipline reports provided by the Delaware Department of Education would have you believe.  I was very puzzled when I saw, for two years in a row, none of these three charters had their individual reports come up on the DOE School profiles website.  I emailed John Sadowski, the Program Manager for Climate and Discipline at the DOE this morning and advised him of this.  As of 12 noon, the reports are now available.

I’m not sure what happened, and it didn’t change the Annual bullying report I posted this morning, but it does show some things parents would not have seen before this fix.  I would like to believe this happened because of the odd nature of Charter School of Wilmington, Delaware College Prep and Delaware Military Academy being the only charters in the state authorized by a school district.  In this case, the Red Clay Consolidated School District.

Using Delaware College Prep as an example, this is the only information parents could see for them on the School Profiles page of the DOE website:

Number of Reported Offenses (2014-15)
School District State
School Crimes (Title 14, Delaware Code, §4112) 1 74 678
Department of Education (DOE) Offenses 23 1,239 10,432
All School Safety Policy in Place N/A
Suspensions and Expulsions
2014-15
Number of Suspensions 44
Number of Expulsions 0
Count of Students Suspended/Expelled 23
September 30 Enrollment 569
Percent of Students Suspended/Expelled 4%
District Percentage 11%
State Percentage 12%

When you hit the tab for details in both these sections you get to see a breakdown for this data as you can see in the below reports. But before 12 noon today, it didn’t come up for the three Red Clay charters while it did for every other public school in the state.  I put up both the reports for Red Clay, before and after so you can see the difference.

Red Clay Consolidated Combined Report 2014-2015, 6:59am, 10/7/15.
Red Clay Consolidated Combined Report 2014-2015, 12:25pm, 10/7/15
Charter School of Wilmington Combined Report 2014-2015
Delaware College Prep Combined Report 2014-2015
Delaware Military Academy Combined Report 2014-2015

So what got me all interested in Red Clay charters and these reports?  It had a lot to do with this article.  I knew the student was suspended for many days over suspected drug activity. I wanted to be sure Charter School of Wilmington reported it right to the state since that was part of the issues at the time. I believe they did, because it shows 20 students were suspended from the school for a total of 118 days.

I don’t believe this was an intentional mistake on the DOE’s part, but oversight and making sure all the reports came up would have been prudent. I’m glad they fixed it though and parents can see what actually happens in terms of reportable offenses at these three schools.

With the current issues Delaware College Prep is going through, knowing they have had 18 fights and a violent felony might be something the Red Clay Consolidated Board of Education may want to know about. Although I am curious what the two Delaware DOE offenses are for Delaware Military Academy with nothing checked off in the sections for that category.  Maybe they aren’t done fixing it…

Bullying in Delaware: What is real and what isn’t?

Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn came out with a 2015 report on bullying a few weeks ago.  While he noted a decrease in the amount of bullying substantiated incidents, he also found there to be such a huge decrease that the question of reported incidents is suspect.  Basically, he is stating schools aren’t reporting the reality on the ground.

In looking at the 2013-2014 Annual Bullying Report, as seen below, there are seven charter schools in Delaware with NO substantiated bullying reports.  Of particular interest are two out of the three charter schools that belong to the Red Clay Consolidated School District.  Red Clay authorizes and monitors these charters, and the two charters in this district with no substantiated bullying incidents, Charter School of Wilmington and Delaware Military Academy, do not update their websites with minutes of their board meetings as well.

Once again, in 2012-2013, 8 charters reported NO substantiated bullying incidents.

Out of the local school districts, the following had the biggest decreases between 2012-2013 and 2013-2014:

Appoquinimink: down 67%

Christina: down 42%

Colonial: down 15%

Indian River: down 36%

Lake Forest: down 68%

Laurel: down 22%

New Castle County Vo-Tech: down 22%

But where this gets really interesting is when you take a look at the percentages compared to the entire student body for each district or charter of reported bullying incidents (SBI) in comparison to offensive touching of a student (OTS) and fighting/disorderly conduct (FDC) reports:

Academy of Dover: .64% for SBI, 0% for OTS, .32% for FDC

Appoquinimink: .25% for SBI, 2.1% for OTS, .72% for FDC

Brandyine: .73% for SBI, 5.4% for OTS, 2.2% for FDC

Caesar Rodney: .51% for SBI, 1.0% for OTS, 1.7% for FDC

Campus Community: 2.2% for SBI, 7.7% for OTS, .49% for FDC

Cape Henlopen: .26% for SBI, .20% for OTS, .85% for FDC

Capital: .38% for SBI, 1.1% for OTS, 1.9% for FDC

*Charter School of Wilmington: 0% (970) (School Code Parameter is Missing A Value)

Christina: .23% for SBI, 4.6% for OTS, 4.3% for FDC

Colonial: .37% for SBI, .40% for OTS, .70% for FDC

Delaware Academy of PSS: 0% for SBI, .33% for OTS, 2.1% for FDC

*Delaware College Prep: 4.5% (218) (School Code Parameter is Missing A Value)

*Delaware Military Academy: 0% (568) (School Code Parameter is Missing A Value)

Delmar: .44% for SBI,  .14% for OTS, .16% for FDC

East Side: 1.7% for SBI, 1.5% for OTS, 8.2% for FDC

Family Foundations: .61% for SBI, 1.5% for OTS,  5.1% for FDC

Gateway Lab: 3.8% for SBI, 11.5% for OTS, 4.8% for FDC

Indian River: .26% for SBI, .79% for OTS, .88% for FDC

Kuumba Academy: 0% for SBI, 2.0% for OTS, 2.9% for FDC

Las Americas Aspiras Academy: 0% for SBI, 0% for OTS, 0% for FDC

Lake Forest: .32% for SBI, .48% for OTS, .95% for FDC

Laurel: .84% for SBI, 88% for OTS, . for FDC 2135, 2.6% for FDC

Milford: .62% for SBI, 1.9% for OTS, 1.3% for FDC

MOT: 1.0% for SBI, 0% for OTS, 0% for FDC

Moyer Academy: 0% for SBI, 2.2% for OTS, 17.2% for FDC

Newark Charter: .17% for SBI, .39% for OTS, .11% for FDC

New Castle County Vo-Tech: .15% for SBI, . for OTS, . for FDC

Odyssey: 0% for SBI, .71% for OTS, .14% for FDC

Polytech: .17% for SBI, .17% for OTS, .09% for FDC

Positive Outcomes: 1.7% for SBI, 4.2% for OTS, 1.7% for FDC

Prestige Academy: 5.6% for SBI, 10.1% for OTS, 23.3% for FDC

Providence Creek:  1.1% for SBI,  5.9% for OTS, .28% for FDC

Reach Academy For Girls: .85% for SBI, .85% for OTS, 1.3% for FDC

Red Clay: .80% for SBI, 2.4% or OTS, .23% for FDC

Seaford: .51% for SBI, 1.3% for OTS, 2.8% for FDC

Smryna: .34% for SBI, .68% for OTS, .84% for FDC

Sussex Academy: .24% for SBI, .48% for OTS, 0% for FDC

Sussex Tech: .13% for SBI, .26% for OTS, .07% for FDC

Thomas Edison: .94% for SBI, .13% for OTS, 1.2% for FDC

Woodbridge: .43% for SBI, 1.1% for OTS, 1.2% for FDC

STATEWIDE AVERAGE Substantiated Bullying Reports: .47%

STATEWIDE AVERAGE Alleged Bullying Reports: 1.2%

STATEWIDE AVERAGE Offensive Touching: 2.0%

STATEWIDE AVERAGE Fighting/Disorderly Conduct: 1.9%

While this may seem like very odd data, it tells us many things.  About half the schools report fighting as fighting, while the other half reports it as offensive touching.  So which is it, and why is it not uniform across all schools in Delaware?  Both are reportable offenses in Delaware.  And how many schools aren’t reporting anything?  It sounds like something needs to be put in place to hold these schools in check.  Unfortunately, relying on the Delaware DOE to accurately convey data to the general public is a lesson in futility.  But the schools have a responsibility in this as well.  Parents need to know which schools are safe for their children, and this data is underrepresented and does not give a clear picture.  To be continued I’m sure…