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Bill would add crime data to report cards for schools

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A bill being circulated in the Wisconsin Legislature would change the state’s school report cards to include information on crimes committed at high schools, their events and on school buses.

The proposal authored by state Rep. John Jagler, R-Watertown, would require public, public charter and private voucher high schools to track criminal activity beginning with the 2017-18 school year. Schools would have to provide that data to the state Department of Public Instruction.

Jagler said the idea came after a large fight at a Milwaukee school in September. He said he learned from police department employees that police are often called to the school, but that he couldn’t find related data.

“I was kind of surprised that the information wasn’t there, or wasn’t easily available — and I was kind of surprised the data wasn’t being tracked,” Jagler told the Wisconsin State Journal. “To me, I don’t know how anybody can think this information shouldn’t be available to parents.”

State report cards have data such as graduation rates and test scores, and each school and district receives a score. Jagler’s bill would keep crime data from being included in the report card score.

“I don’t want anyone to use it as a stick,” Jagler said.

Schools are currently required to track incidents resulting in suspension or expulsion, with data on the Department of Public Instruction’s website.

Department spokesman Tom McCarthy said in an email that Jagler’s proposal could be costly for schools and law enforcement “in staff time for reporting and the creation of data systems.” Jagler said for parents it would be “worth whatever burden.”

Crime tracked under the bill would include ones that occur on school grounds outside school hours. Wisconsin Association of School Boards lobbyist Dan Rossmiller said the measure could “give a wrong impression if it requires reporting on things schools have little control over,” and that schools don’t control their location.

The proposal has the backing of Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, his spokeswoman Kit Beyer said.

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