Bullying report left out Memphis statistics

The scope of the bullying problem in Tennessee public schools was understated significantly in a report the state released Thursday, because it did not include Memphis statistics, according to the Commercial Appeal.

Memphis City Schools reported 1,982 confirmed cases of harassment, bullying or intimidation property during 2012-2013 school year — a figure that would have increased the statewide total by more than a quarter.

The report issued Thursday listed 5,478 confirmed cases statewide. Adding numbers from Memphis — by far the state’s largest school district — would bring that statewide total to 7,460. (Note: Previous post HERE)

An official for the state Department of Education said she doesn’t know how the error occurred, but speculated that data had been collected around the time the city-county school merger was completed last July, and may have been misplaced or lost.

“All directors received communication throughout the year. We held trainings on how to submit the data,” said spokewoman Kelli Gauthier.

But Shelby County Schools spokeswoman Stefani Everson said the former Memphis City Schools district was not asked to provide data.

The report was created by Peachie Jones in the Department of Education’s office of civil rights. She did not respond to an email seeking comment Friday.

Memphis, with 105,000 students, had the largest number of bullying incidents of any school district in the state. Metro Nashville, with 23,000 fewer students, reported 812 confirmed cases.

Rachel Shankman, executive director of Facing History, Facing Ourselves, suspects the actual number of cases is 10 times higher. “Most students never report it and simply don’t go to school, which affects attendance and retention.”