The state’s Board of Regents approved changes Tuesday to the much-criticized reporting system schools use to track violent incidents ranging from bullying to homicide.
Changes to the “Violent and Disruptive Incident Reporting” system, known as VADIR, have been in the works since last year, when the state’s education policymaking body proposed shrinking the number of incident categories from 20 down to just nine.
The new categories are meant to provide “a greater degree of clarity and are better aligned with the intent of VADIR, which is not to be punitive but rather to inform policies for reducing school violence,” according to state documents.
The eliminated categories include robbery, arson, kidnapping, burglary and reckless endangerment. Incidents such as homicide, sexual offenses, harassment, and bullying remain on the list, along with new ones like “physical injury.” (You can find the complete list of category changes here.)
A spokesperson for the State Education Department told Chalkbeat back in September that the changes were meant to “include the most violent incidents,” along with those, like bomb threat and drug use, required by the federal government.
Educators have repeatedly criticized the system, noting that seemingly benign incidents, such as throwing a ball at another student, have reportedly been logged as assault.
The system is used to compute which schools are considered “persistently dangerous,” a list required under state and federal law. The city has complained that the current system overstates the lack of safety in New York City’s public schools.
It was not immediately clear what effect the changes might have on the number of schools given the persistently dangerous label — a list that fell from 27 in the 2015-16 school year to just four this year.
And while the proposed changes have been celebrated by some student justice advocates, the pro-charter group Families for Excellent Schools — which often plays up the dangerousness of traditional public schools — warned that the new categories could mask serious incidents.
“These changes, which fail to distinguish between bruises and horrifying assaults, will sweep violent acts under the rug and keep parents in the dark about their children’s safety,” wrote Jeremiah Kittredge, the organization’s CEO.
The changes are set to go into effect next school year.
Correction: A previous version of this story stated that changes to VADIR were introduced in September. They were actually proposed in 2015.