Senate, Assembly Pass Dueling Crime Reporting Bills

The state Assembly and Senate yesterday (Feb. 16) passed competing bills relating to having schools track and report crimes and other incidents that occur in schools, on school transportation and at school-sponsored events.

Whether either or both of the bills will make it to the governor’s desk is unclear at this point.

The Assembly version (Assembly Bill 517) authored by Rep. John Jagler (R-Watertown) is the more encompassing of the two. As amended on the Assembly floor by a substitute amendment to that bill and a simple amendment to the substitute, the bill requires both public and voucher high schools to collect and report to the DPI statistics on the incidents of certain crimes or ordinance violations that meet all the following: occur on Mondays through Fridays between the hours of 6:00 am and 10:00 p.m.;  occur on property owned or leased by the governing body of the school or on pupil transportation either provided by or contracted for by the school;  are reported to law enforcement and for which, as a result of the incident, a charge was filed or a citation was issued.

No additional funding is provided to school districts under Assembly Bill 517 to cover the additional costs and responsibilities the bill mandates.

Statistics of incidents of the following must be collected and reported under Assembly Bill 517: homicide, sexual assault; burglary, robbery, or theft; battery, substantial battery or aggravated battery; arson; use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance; possession of a firearm in a gun-free school zone; or disorderly conduct in violation of a municipal ordinance.

The DPI must include the following information derived from these reports on the school’s report card under the accountability system:

  • The total number of incidents per 100 pupils reported by the school or school district;
  • The average total number of incidents per 100 pupils reported statewide.
  • The total number of incidents of “violent offenses” (homicide; sexual assault; battery, substantial battery or aggravated battery, as those crimes are defined under state statutes; and incidents of disorderly conduct as defined by municipal ordinance) per 100 pupils reported by the school or school district.
  • The average total number of incidents of “violent offenses” (homicide, sexual assault; battery, substantial battery or aggravated battery, as those crimes are defined under state statutes; and incidents of disorderly conduct as defined by municipal ordinance) per 100 pupils reported statewide.

Under AB 517, the DPI may not factor the statistics reported by a school into the school’s accountability rating.

The competing proposal (Senate Bill 492) passed by the Senate yesterday (Feb. 16) is authored by Senate President Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin). It would provide for similar reporting but only by those districts participating in a voluntary one-year pilot program. The bill provides limited funding for the pilot program.

Under Senate Bill 492, reporting would be required only by districts (one urban, one suburban and one rural) that voluntarily choose to participate in the pilot program.

A school district that participates in the pilot program under Senate Bill 492 would have to report its aggregate data on crimes and other incidents to DPI twice: once halfway through the school year and once at the end of the school year. Incidents that must be reported under the pilot program created by this bill include those involving bullying or harassment.

After receiving the participating school districts’ reports, DPI would be required to report to the Legislature aggregate data derived from the reports submitted by the participating school districts. A participating school district must omit or redact any personally identifiable information before releasing any records it maintains under the pilot program and may not include the identity of any individual involved in a crime or other incident in a report submitted to DPI under the pilot program.