New school violence data raises more questions about self-reporting at schools

1400 weapons reported at Aurora Public Schools

DENVER - Note: The Colorado Department of Education later retracted previous statements confirming that the data released on August 5, 2014 was accurate, blaming a "processing error." The Department said Littleton Public Schools had in fact reported the December 13 fatal shooting at Arapahoe High School as a first-degree assault. The error also led to incidents of "3rd Degree Assaults/Disorderly Conduct" being listed as "Dangerous Weapons."

 

In an analysis of new 2013-2014 school violence data, the CALL7 Investigators have found what's reported to the Colorado Department of Education can vary significantly from district to district and even school to school, making it difficult for parents to obtain an accurate picture of what’s really going on in their child's school.

For example, according to records obtained by CALL7, the Aurora Public School District reported 1,426 "dangerous weapon" incidents last year.  That's more than one-third of all dangerous weapons reported last year by Colorado schools. Denver Public Schools, a district that is twice Aurora's size, reported just 165 dangerous weapons.

The data also reveals the Douglas County School District -- which contains about 7 percent of Colorado's total student population -- accounted for 60 percent of all "Other Felony" reports statewide.

In May 2014, a CALL7 Denver Post joint investigation found CDE has never audited a school district on its violence reporting to ensure the data is accurate or that under-reporting is not occurring. Now, state legislators are taking a look at the law -- which was created in 2001 -- to fix the loopholes in the system.

Currently, serious incidents such as the fatal shooting at Arapahoe High School in December 2013 are not required to be included in the annual report because no student was disciplined.

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If you have a news tip or follow-up to this story, e-mail Keli Rabon. You can also connect with me on Facebook or through Twitter @KeliRabon.

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