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Pleasantville Claims Petty Politics Behind Audit On School Violence

The Pleasantville School District said state politics are behind a comptroller's report over the reporting of school violence.
The Pleasantville School District said state politics are behind a comptroller's report over the reporting of school violence. Photo Credit: File Photo

PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. -- The Pleasantville School District is disputing an audit from the State Comptroller's Office that accused the district of not properly reporting incidents of school violence.

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli audited seven districts in the state, including Pleasantville, to see how they complied with the Safe Schools Against Violence in Education Act during the 2011-12 school year.

The report said Pleasantville High School did not report 20 of the 36 incidents it should have, including ten incidents of intimidation, harassment, menacing or bullying.

"It appears that many schools are failing to live up to the reporting requirements, leaving parents in the dark about violence and other incidents that affect the classroom learning environment," DiNapoli said.

The school district said Pleasantville's "School Violence Index" before the audit was a zero, making it one of the safest schools possible, and after the audit, it remains a zero.

Pleasantville Board of Education President Shane McGaffey said the district reported the incidents, which included a student spraying another student with a water bottle, a student using a cell phone in class and a student failing to comply with a teacher request, just not in a category the state would like.

"I don't think someone squirting a water bottle is headline news," McGaffey said. "It would be one thing if there were stabbings."

McGaffey believes the state chose to audit the district over Schools Superintendent Mary Fox-Alter's opposition to the state outsourcing school data to a third party, which was later dropped.

"This is politically motivated," McGaffey said. "This is an attempt to get us on something. It's a political gotcha and it's pretty pathetic. There's nothing there."

McGaffey said state rules about reporting school incidents are confusing and don't make much sense. 

"Do I think the state is ridiculous? Yes. Do I think they should be ashamed of themselves? Yes," McGaffey said. "This is New York State politics at its petty low. This is the state being upset that they didn't get their way and they are trying to stick it to Pleasantville here."

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