Across Illinois, school districts are failing to comply with an incident-reporting law that has been in effect since 1999, according to a report from the Chicago Tribune.
The law requires that the schools disclose drug, weapon and teacher assault incidents to the state in order to give the public a clear picture of crime at neighborhood schools. But thanks to lax oversight and no enforcement from the very state agencies that built it, thousands of incidents have gone unreported, the article says.
A review of municipal records in the Chicago area shows that school districts often report crime to the local police, but not to the state. By skipping this extra step, the information cannot be compiled and made widely available to parents, residents and law enforcement agencies, which would use the data to identify crime trends and get resources where they need to be.
Some of the state's largest high school districts have not reported a single incident to the state's database in six years, records show. Yet, during that same time, local police have responded to more than 100 drug cases and other serious incidents at those school districts that should have been reported to the state, the article says.
The biggest hole in the system, the article says, is Chicago Public Schools. The mammoth school system, with 675 schools and more than 400,000 students has not reported a single incident to the school-crime database since its inception in March 2006, according to the Tribune.
Over that same period, Chicago police have logged about 9,000 drug offenses on or around school grounds, including hard drugs such as heroin, hallucinogens and crack cocaine. There were more than 1,200 infractions involving guns, and at least 20 teachers have been beaten so severely by students on campus that they've missed months or years of work in the last five years alone, the article says. None of those cases were reported to the state.
Overall, only 40 percent of Illinois school districts have reported even one incident to the state's database, and only a few private schools have done so, even though they are also required to do so under the law.
Neither the Illinois State Police not the Illinois State Board of Education has cracked down on districts that don't report as required, claiming they don't have the resources or personnel to enforce it. According to the article, many school district representatives claim that they weren't aware that they were out of compliance, as no one ever notified them.
Some schools prefer to keep small drug incidents in-house, preventing students from getting a permanent record, the article says.
The mismatching reports between state police and the School Incident Reporting System show conflicting information about crime in schools. For example, the article says, police numbers show 13,016 attacks against school personnel happened from 2006 to 2009, the latest figures available. The reporting system shows just 1,648 cases from march 2006 through early May 2012.