State approves Peach ‘unsafe’ appeal

Make an appeal and it will be heard.

The Peach County school system’s appeal of the status of Byron Middle and Peach County High schools concerning an annual school safety report has been accepted by the state Department of Education, according to Charlie Waters, the system’s director of technology services.

Jeff Hodges, a specialist with the department’s Title IV-A, Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities, wrote Waters on Monday that the schools’ status was incorrect.

“Although we cannot change the data that was submitted in error in school years 2006-2007 and 2007-2008, we will add an amendment to your file that will explain the reporting errors,” Hodges wrote in an e-mail to Waters.

The school system had complained that the software used in compiling data for the Unsafe Schools Choice Option Report was flawed, incorrectly assigning incidents the district said never happened.

“The state reports we had five incidents of aggravated battery in 2008, and we say we had none,” Jim O’Shields, assistant superintendent for administrative services, said earlier.

Four of the episodes were reported at Peach County High and one at Byron Middle, according to the state.

The 2008 report for Byron Middle and Peach County High came on the heels of a 2007 report that listed both as having aggravated battery incidents — four at the middle school, one at the high school.

If a certain number of reports or students are recorded in violation of specific offenses three years in a row, according to the state, the school is labeled as “persistently dangerous,” and parents can send their children to other schools.

Waters added that his analysis showed, for example, that there was no way to distinguish between simple battery and aggravated battery in the state’s software.

To contact writer Jake Jacobs, call 923-6199, extension 305.