Education

How Miami-Dade schools made thousands of fights disappear

Students look on in Youtube videos of fights at two Miami-Dade middle schools. Dozens of similar videos were uploaded by users during the last school year.
Students look on in Youtube videos of fights at two Miami-Dade middle schools. Dozens of similar videos were uploaded by users during the last school year. Youtube

In the 2014-2015 school year, Madison Middle School reported 55 fights to the Florida Department of Education —nearly one for every three days school was in session. The next year, that number fell to zero, even though one fight made the news after a student landed in the hospital with a broken jaw.

The drop in reported fights was replicated at other schools across the district - a decline students and parents question.

In 2015-16, Miami-Dade County Public Schools reported a total of 311 fights to the state. The year before that, it reported more than 5,000. The difference does not come from a dramatic turnaround in student behavior at the district’s most troubled schools, but a reporting change that keeps the vast majority of fights out of state records.

In an email to WLRN, district spokeswoman Daisy Gonzalez Diego wrote that the reason for the big decline is that the district had previously been over-reporting fights in data sent to a statewide database known as the School Environmental Safety Incident Reporting, which track serious infractions on school grounds. See the rest of the WLRN story.

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