Largest School Districts Improve Compliance with Bullying and Harassment Reporting

April 24, 2014

A street sign that reads Bully Free Zone

According to an AAUW analysis, more of the nation’s largest public school districts are now complying with federal requirements to report incidents of sex-based bullying and harassment. In the second year that the U.S. Department of Education has collected such data, eight of the 10 districts that AAUW leaders contacted for having had no incidents during the 2009–10 school year — something that AAUW research shows is virtually impossible — began reporting incidents in 2011–12. This is a definite victory! Nevertheless, work remains. Six of the nation’s 21 largest school districts still reported zero incidents of bullying and harassment.

In 2012, for the first time, the U.S. Department of Education’s Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) included allegations of bullying and harassment on the basis of sex, incidents of discipline for harassment or bullying on the basis of sex, and students reporting harassment or bullying on the basis of sex at the nation’s public school districts. Since 1968, the CRDC has gathered data from schools to ensure equal educational opportunity for all children in public schools. A variety of information, including enrollment, educational programs and services is reported by the schools, and all data are disaggregated by race/ethnicity, sex, limited English proficiency, and disability. The 2012 data release contained information about the 2009–10 school year.

After the 2012 release, AAUW state presidents and public policy chairs contacted 10 of the nation’s largest districts that reported no incidents of sex-based bullying and harassment to demand that they remedy potential problems with the reporting methodology. These 10 school districts were Broward County Public Schools, Duval County Public Schools, Fairfax County Public Schools, Gwinnett County Public Schools, Los Angeles Unified School District, Miami-Dade County Public Schools, New York City Public Schools, Prince George’s County Public Schools, the School District of Palm Beach County, and the School District of Philadelphia.

The handful of responses AAUW received revealed confusion about the way data was reported and a misperception that data already reported to state agencies did not need to be reported to federal agencies. AAUW national staff shared our findings with the Department of Education, which increased technical assistance for the most recent CRDC survey, which used data from the 2011–12 school year. All the districts contacted by AAUW state leaders, except New York City Public Schools and Gwinnett County Public Schools, reported incidents in this year’s data collection.

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Six school districts in total — New York City Public Schools, Houston Independent School District, Gwinnett County Public Schools, Dallas Independent School District, Wake County Public Schools, and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools — still reported zero incidents of harassment or bullying. However, AAUW’s nationally representative survey of middle and high school students revealed just how pervasive bullying and sexual harassment are. Almost half of the students surveyed reported having been sexually harassed during the 2010–11 school year, and close to 90 percent said harassment had a negative impact on them. While the report showed that about half of students who were the target of sexual harassment did not tell an adult, there is still clear reason to doubt that no incidents of harassment or bullying based on sex took place over the course of a school year in the nation’s largest public school districts.

AAUW is pleased that many of the school districts listened to our state leaders and took advantage of the Department of Education’s additional technical support, which may have been a factor in the increased compliance among our small sample. AAUW is also pleased that the 2011–12 data release expanded the coverage of the survey. The 2009–10 data only covered about 7,000 school districts. This year, for the first time since 2000, the Department of Education compiled data from all 97,000 public schools and 16,500 school districts across the nation.

AAUW’s members have been fighting for educational equity since 1881. This data has proven to be a powerful tool for our members and anyone concerned about educational equity. Consult the CRDC for more information about your school district, and let us know in the comments section below what you find.

The results of AAUW’s updated analysis compared against the 2009-10 figures are shown in the table below.

 

11–12
Enroll Rank

District

Allegations, basis of sex

Disciplined for harassment or bullying on basis of sex

Students reported to have been harassed or bullied on basis of sex

Total Enrollment

09–10
Enroll Rank

09–
10

11–
12

09–
10

11–
12

09–
10

11–
12

09–
10

11–
12

1

New York City Public Schools

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

979,960

1,002,751

1

2

Los Angeles Unified School District (CA)

0

423

423

0

552

552

0

10

10

634,075

595,849

2

3

Chicago Public Schools (IL)

108

44

-64

95

76

-19

120

80

-40

410,680

400,579

3

4

Miami-Dade County Public Schools (FL)

0

0

0

0

191

191

0

0

0

345,815

350,522

4

5

Clark County School District (NV)

397

10

-387

350

50

-300

370

12

-358

311,950

313,557

5

6

Broward County Public Schools (FL)

0

0

0

0

263

263

0

16

16

256,140

258,757

6

7

Houston Independent School District (TX)

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

202,775

203,442

7

8

Hillsborough Independent School District (FL)

0

7

7

30

131

101

0

88

88

193,275

197,155

8

9

Hawaii Department of Education

0

16

16

3390

60

-3330

0

32

32

180,595

183,441

9

10

Orange County Public Schools (FL)

43

30

-13

0

662

662

50

0

-50

173,275

178,648

13

11

Fairfax County Public Schools (VA)

0

40

40

0

58

58

0

0

0

173,035

177,820

10

12

Palm Beach County Public Schools (FL)

0

0

0

0

259

259

0

258

258

172,910

177,075

12

13

Gwinnett County Public Schools (GA)

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

159,195

162,462

14

14

Dallas Independent School District (TX)

0

0

0

0

N/A

N/A

0

N/A

N/A

157,090

157,969

15

15

Wake County Public Schools (NC)

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

141,185

147,882

17

16

Montgomery Country Public Schools (MD)

4

25

21

0

24

24

5

44

39

142,015

147,033

16

17

The School District of Philadelphia (PA)

0

0

0

0

6

6

0

0

0

167,710

146,509

11

18

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (NC)

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

134,900

141,357

19

19

San Diego Unified School District (CA)

620

703

83

430

889

459

5

34

29

136,050

135,954

18

20

Prince George’s County Public Schools (MD)

0

162

162

0

0

0

0

0

0

126,660

130,165

20

21

Duval County Public Schools (FL)

0

0

0

0

162

162

0

22

22

122,595

124,955

21

Sources: U.S. Department of Education (ED) 2009–10 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), http://ocrdata.ed.gov
U.S. Department of Education (ED) 2011–12 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), http://ocrdata.ed.gov

This post was written by AAUW Public Policy Temp Emily Pfefer.

By:   |   April 24, 2014

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