A recently released report by U.S. Education Department on school safety has been riddled by those who found that most of the cited shootings never occurred, according to a review by National Public Radio.
The report, the 2015–16 Civil Rights Data Collection, is a compiled survey of all public schools in the country. Some 18-pages in length, it highlights everything from instances of bullying to school homicides. For one of the metrics, nearly 240 responding schools reported at least one incident involving a school-related shooting. This, multiple sources found, was far from accurate.
NPR contacted the schools over a three-month period and discovered that “In 161 cases, schools or districts attested that no incident took place or couldn’t confirm one.”
The squishy figure was further undermined through an effort by the ACLU of Southern California who digested more than just the school shooting numbers. In their own research, the civil liberties group found that 138 of the schools contacted confirmed errors, with only 11 confirming school shootings.
Even gun control group Everytown gun control group cite 52 incidents of” gunfire on school grounds” in 2016 and 65 in 2015.
NPR reported that the discrepancy in many cases could be chalked up to confusion with the CRDC’s data collection process both by schools and within the Education Department.
Liz Hill, an Education Department spokeswoman, told NPR that any “misreporting” is the schools’ responsibility, not the department’s, saying, “As always, data reported by recipients is self-reported and self-certified.”
The trade organization for the gun industry, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, pointed to the NPR report as highlighting, “just how difficult it can be to collect and track data on firearms-related violence at schools and how researchers, educators, and policymakers are hindered by a lack of data.”