The overwhelming majority of school shootings listed in a Department of Education report never happened, according to an investigation by National Public Radio.
More than 100 reported a school-related “homicide involving a student, faculty member or staff member.”
But NPR contacted every one of the schools and found that more than two-thirds of the reported incidents never happened.
And it was able to confirm only 11 reported incidents, either through the school or media reports.
“How many times per year does a gun go off in an American school? We should know. But we don’t,” NPR said.
The Department of Education explained it simply reported the information provided by the schools.
Deborah Temkin, a researcher and program director at Child Trends, told NPR: “When we’re talking about such an important and rare event, [this] amount of data error could be very meaningful.”
‘Typical government fashion’
The Washington watchdog Judicial Watch observed that even though the Department of Education is the agency “responsible for disseminating the erroneous information, in typical government fashion, it shrugged it off as no big deal.”
“Evidently, the federal agency doesn’t bother checking data before publishing it as fact,” Judicial Watch said.
The Washington watchdog said it’s “hardly an isolated incident of government inefficiency, but the seriousness of the matter should inspire the feds to provide the public – and policy makers – with accurate information.”
“Instead, the DOE, a typical bloated agency with a $59 billion budget, passed the buck to the so-called civil rights data collection division which apparently plays fast and loose with facts.”
Judicial Watch did find it “amusing” that a government-funded news outlet debunked a government report.
NPR reported: “In 161 cases, schools or districts attested that no incident took place or couldn’t confirm one. In at least four cases, we found, something did happen, but it didn’t meet the government’s parameters for a shooting. About a quarter of schools didn’t respond to our inquiries.”
The agency cited a report from Everytown for Gun Safety that listed just 29 shootings at K-12 schools during the 2015-2016 time period at issue.
The federal agency listed 26 shootings in the Ventura Unified School District in Southern California.
However, NPR reported Jeff Davis, an assistant superintendent, said, “I think someone pushed the wrong button.”
Davis said outgoing Supt. Joe Richards “has been here for almost 30 years and he doesn’t remember any shooting.”