Bibb County school crime, discipline data questioned with multiple safety reports

Posted by on September 19, 2012

The Bibb County (GA) school district remains under fire as two versions of a school safety assessment consultant’s report, along with state safety incident data, bring into question the district’s accuracy and consistency in reporting fights and weapons.

The Macon Telegraph on Tuesday ran a story entitled, “Bibb school fights, weapons reported tallies differ widely.” The report claims that statistics on fights and weapons included in a school security consultant firm’s report varies widely from data the school district reported to the state Department of Education.

The news story also indicated that the consultant’s “final” report contained incident data that a previous “draft” version of the report said the consultants had been unable to obtain data from the district.

The Bibb County schools have been under intense media and public scrutiny on discipline, school crime reporting, and questions arising from two different versions of a school safety consultant firm’s report. See earlier blog articles entitled Draft school safety reports jeopardize integrity of security consultants, school boards and Safety report blasts Bibb County school discipline; Judge blasts security consultant.

Several important lessons seem to apply based on the ongoing series of news reports:

  1. School districts need to create and maintain an accurate mechanism for reporting discipline and school crimes;
  2. Accurate internal data should be reflected in accurate reports made by local school districts to state education agencies and the community;
  3. “Draft” reports by school safety consultants can risk  jeopardizing the integrity of the safety assessment process and may lead to further politicizing school safety; and
  4. Politicizing school safety leads to adverse media and public attention, and can easily undermine the credibility of school leaders in the eyes of their school community.

Having extensive professional experience working in the media both on-air and as a news producer and writer, I am fortunate to have the skills to help client school districts first focus on school safety best practices, and then effectively communicate their efforts to their school community.

In our media training designed for schools, I always say that good school community relations is “good behavior, well-communicated.” School districts must first do the right thing and have the good behavior in place. Only then can their good behavior be effectively communicated to earn good school community and media relations.

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