South Dakota School Report Cards Show Inaccurate Safety Data
RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota's recently released report cards on schools are filled with inaccuracies in safety data, according to state education officials.
For the first time, the report cards required under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act include information on school safety from a federal Civil Rights Data Collection survey. But the findings show 65 percent of statewide school-related arrests occurred in the Rapid City district during the 2015-16 school year, the most recent period such data was collected.
A breakdown within the Rapid City district's data shows over half of students arrested were Asian Americans, the Rapid City Journal reported.
Rapid City district spokeswoman Katy Urban said the district is unsure why the report card doesn't reflect information submitted to the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights.
According to the report card, 79 Asian students were arrested in 2015-16. But the district's data shows zero Asian students arrested.
The state report card said zero Native American students were arrested in the 2015-16 school year. Meanwhile, the Rapid City district reported 93 Native American students were arrested during that time.
Sioux Falls, the state's largest district, reported zero arrests despite making 194 referrals to law enforcement during the 2015-16 school year.
"We're not trying to make ourselves look better than any other school district. We just didn't collect the data, so we don't have outputs on arrests, for 2015," said DeeAnn Konrad, the Sioux Falls district's spokeswoman.
The report cards have a handful of other inconsistencies, such as "incidences of violence" seemingly fluctuating arbitrarily between schools.
"There is likely inconsistency in how districts are reporting some of that civil rights data," said Mary Stadick-Smith, the state's interim secretary of education.
Stadick-Smith said another issue is that the state education department's small staff must handle a massive amount of new data.
"I don't know that we're short-handed," said Stadick-Smith. "But we have a pretty lean staff, and we have to follow all the federal requirements. Larger states have huge staffs and entire divisions devoted to data management. We don't have that luxury."
Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.