Fatal Arapahoe High shooting not reported to Dept. of Education

Apparent loophole in reporting found

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 reported the December 13 fatal shooting at Arapahoe High School as a first-degree assault.

A CALL7 Investigation reveals the fatal shooting at Arapahoe High School last December was apparently not included in the state's annual school violence report, likely due to a loophole in Colorado's law that only requires incidents in which a student is disciplined be disclosed to the public.

The shooting claimed the life of 17-year-old Claire Davis, and the gunman,18-year-old Karl Pierson, killed himself shortly after.

Arapahoe High reported "0 1st and 2nd Degree Assaults" and "0 Dangerous Weapons" incidents to the Colorado Department of Education for the 2013-2014 school year.

"There's obviously a problem in the reporting system if it doesn't show up on this report," State Representative Polly Lawrence said. "That doesn't reflect what actually happened at that high school, and it raises questions about other schools across the state."

Since 2001, the Colorado Department of Education has overseen the program designed to alert parents about incidents like serious assaults, drugs, and robberies on school campuses across the state. But a May 2014 CALL7 Denver Post joint investigation found the system is plagued with wide-spread underreporting by schools and a state education department that fails to hold those schools accountable.

On Monday, Rep. Lawrence called the first of series of anticipated meetings involving education officials, law enforcement, and school administrators to begin overhauling the law. Rep. Lawrence decided to bring together various stakeholders to hear from multiple sides what parts of the current system are working and how to best fix the problems moving forward. The next meeting will likely occur later this month.

The omission of the fatal shooting exposes yet another apparent weakness in the current law, according to Rep. Lawrence.

"They did have that incident. And it was very well documented. I don't know how you can go without reporting that," Lawrence said.

The school violence reporting law was created in the wake of the Columbine High School shooting, but like the 2013 Arapahoe High School shooting, the Columbine incident would not have counted under the law because the shooters died in the attack and thus, were unable to be disciplined.


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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