Friday, November 9, 2007

New York State School Report Card 2005-2006 North Tonawanda High School

The Standards: The Safe Schools Against Violence in Education Act (SAVE) was passed by the New York State Legislature and signed into law by then Governor George E. Pataki on July 24, 2000. In response to the legislation, the New York State Board of Regents amended the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education, Section 100.22 (gg) by emergency action, and made permanent in June 2001, to provide specifications for the creation of a uniform violent incident reporting system. The Regulations were developed in consultation with the Division of Criminal Justice Services and with legislative and executive staff. The Regulations make use of definitions of crimes taken from the Penal Law and require schools to record and report information on violent and disruptive incidents to New York State Education Department.

Six (6) years later, in a press release dated May 22, 2006, "Commissioner Mills Announces Actions To Improve School District Reporting of Violent Incidents". Commissioner Mills' press release was spawned by "a new audit of school district data for 2003-2004 recently conducted by the State Comptroller and by increasing concerns among the Regents and State Education Department officials that data reporting by schools is irregular and inadequate."

State Education Commissioner Richard Mills said, "The Comptroller's audit confirms our increased concerns about underreporting in schools,"... "Creating a safe environment is critical and fundamental for learning. More must - and will - be done to get full compliance. The Board of Regents and the State Education Department are taking aggressive actions to ensure accurate reporting and compliance." (For Immediate Release, May 22, 2006, Commissioner Mills Announces Actions to Improve School District Reporting of Violent Incidents).

The Truths: Commissioner Mills had knowledge of the violence occurring against Michael while Michael was in attendance at North Tonawanda High School as early as November 7, 2005, including a copy of the written death threat against Michael, and Commissioner Mills failed to take the actions he claims "to improve school district reporting of violent incidents."

Further, John H. George, former Superintendent of City of North Tonawanda School District, held knowledge of both the death threat against Michael's life due to Michael's sexual orientation and gender expression, and a "series of six (6) or seven (7) bomb threats", all occurring (upon SWORN Affidavit of James V. Fisher, Principal North Tonawanda High School) between October 7 and October 12, 2005. Dr. George was responsible for compliance with the requirement of superintendents' certification of districts' violent and disruptive incidents reports to New York State Education Department for the 2005-2006 school year; Dr. George was also responsible for the accuracy of the data reported for the 2005-2006 New York State School Report Card.

A complaint has been filed with New York State Office State Comptroller Investigations and Accountability Divisions against City of North Tonawanda School District for under-reporting its violent incidents for the 2005-2006 school year; a complete investigation into this matter is expected.

A comprehensive list of New York State Comptroller's recommendations and State Education Department actions can be read at

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