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City schools see spike in crime, report says

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Between July and October 2006, 348 serious felonies were reported in schools, compared with 287 in the same period of 2005, according to the Preliminary Mayor's Management Report. But the most recent period included five school days more than the year before, the report also noted.The biggest rise was in grand larcenies - thefts of property worth at least $1,000 - which increased from 119 to 197, according to statistics provided by the mayor's office. Robberies, which unlike larcenies involve the use or threat of force, declined from 62 to 44.But the question of how many crimes occur in city schools and how many are reported is not cut and dry. A state Department of Education report in June 2006 showed fewer reports of violent crimes in New York City schools than in the state's other large cities and rural districts. A separate audit last year by the state comptroller, which did not cover the city, found many districts were under-reporting crime in schools by as much as one-third.In response to those reports, the United Federation of Teachers began an online reporting system for teachers to record incidents. Although the types of incidents tracked in that data do not directly correspond to the crimes monitored by the city, the differences are stark.The teachers union reported 704 assaults - including 511 against teachers - from September 2006 to Feb. 9, 2007. That compares to 321 assaults recorded by the Department of Education in the same period of the prior school year.A UFT spokesman said the union has verified 4,537 of the more than 6,000 incidents recorded in its online system. In addition to felony crimes, the union is tracking occurrences such as verbal harassment."One of the reasons we began the online reporting system at the start of the current school year was because we felt that many incidents were going unreported," UFT President Randi Weingarten said in a statement. "To his credit, the chancellor has told principals to report everything, and that's good."Mayoral spokesman Jason Post said in every major category except grand larcenies, crime dropped or held steady during the reporting period when adjusted for the extra five days of school."The increase in school crime is driven totally by the increase in grand larcenies - which is cause for concern but at least grand larcenies are not disruptive to the learning environment," Post said in an e-mail.Reach reporter John Tozzi by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300 Ext. 174.

Posted 7:16 pm, October 10, 2011
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