FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 16, 2019
CONTACT: Peter Giunta, (347) 621-8031
Assemblymember Michael Reilly (R-South Shore) proposed today introducing legislation that would require enhanced utilization of the Online Occurrence Reporting System (OORS) used by New York City public school administrators, which is designed to track all student-involved incidents occurring at school in accordance with Chancellor’s Regulation A-832 requiring the documentation and investigation of incidents within 24 hours.
The OORS currently allows administrators to track those incidents on a year-to-year basis, meaning that a student-involved incident occurring in grade four would not show on that student’s record in grade five. Reilly’s proposal would require the city Department of Education to enhance their utilization of the system by tracking incidents throughout a student’s academic career, from kindergarten through twelfth grade, to provide administrators with vital information and improve their ability to deliver services that support a safe learning environment.
“Transitions from grade to grade, and even school to school, present a gap in monitoring of incidences, which can defeat establishing a safe learning environment for all students. By allowing school administrators the ability to track student-involved incidents over a greater span of time, we are essentially giving them the power to identify students that may need extra support or intervention,” said Reilly.
Reilly previously made this same proposal as President of Community Education Council 31 on Staten Island, and once again submitted it for consideration to the New York City Department of Education as they considered changes to their student discipline code earlier this year. His proposal for it to become law now follows a report from the Special Commissioner of Investigation for New York City schools regarding an incident at a Bronx school two years ago which resulted in the death of a student.
The Special Commissioner had discovered that an Assistant Principal responsible for student discipline at the Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation in the Bronx had failed to enter a report in the OORS system about Abel Cedeno after receiving a call from the student’s mother that she found a knife in his backpack and she was concerned he may use it at school. The incident, which occurred in 2014, resulted in the search of Cedeno’s backpack and the threat was determined to be unfounded since no knife was found; however, in 2017, Cedeno stabbed two of his classmates in the chest, killing one of them – he later accused them of bullying him. It was the first time in 20 years that a student killed another in a New York City public school, and this month Cedeno was sentenced to 14 years in prison.
While the Special Commissioner’s report does not lay blame on the administrator’s failure to enter the information to the OORS, Reilly believes that this is an example of how the system could be better utilized by school administrators.
“If the first incident had been tracked in the OORS when it was reported, along with any other incidences that may have occurred between the three students, perhaps the loss of life could have been prevented in this case. Expanding the tracking capability of the OORS to span years as opposed to just one school year would enable administrators to prevent violent incidents like this or non-violent ones that may affect a student’s ability to do well,” said Reilly.