Crime Is Decreasing in N.C. Schools, But Not in Wake or Durham | News
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Friday, March 2, 2018

Crime Is Decreasing in N.C. Schools, But Not in Wake or Durham

Posted by on Fri, Mar 2, 2018 at 9:31 AM

This post is excerpted from the INDY’s morning newsletter, Primer. To read this morning’s edition in full, click here. To get all the day’s local and national headlines and insights delivered straight to your inbox, sign up here.

Here’s some good news, especially in light of recent events: reported crime in North Carolina schools dropped almost 2 percent in the 2016–17 school year and almost 5 percent in high schools. The biggest drop: an 11 percent decrease in possession of a firearm, with a total of 105 cases statewide.
  • From the N&O: “State Board of Education members said the new report is timely with the nation’s attention focused on school safety following the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida that left 17 people dead. … Much of the statewide decrease was fueled by fewer cases of possession of drugs or alcohol. There were statewide increases in several categories, including assaults on school personnel, assaults resulting in serious injury, sexual assault and bomb threats. ‘Crimes now are basically at sort of historical lows in terms of what we have seen this century since we’ve been tracking them,’ said Ken Gattis, a consultant with the N.C. Center for Safer Schools.”
  • The bad news: “While the crime figures improved statewide, they worsened in Wake County, the state’s largest school system. Wake saw increases in both the number of crimes reported and the number of cases of possession of a firearm.” Wake schools “seized nine guns, up from just one the year before. The schools reported 31 sexual assaults, up from nine the year before. Overall, Wake schools reported 967 incidents of crime in 2016-17, up from 829 the prior the year, an increase of 16.6 percent. … The numbers rose while Wake’s school enrollment grew modestly, from 156,612 students in 2015-16 to 158,394 this past year, an increase of 1.1 percent.”
  • “Among other crimes, Wake schools in 2016-17 reported 499 cases of drug possession, up 25.6 percent from the 397 cases reported the year before. … Wake reported 55 assaults on school personnel last year, up from 46 in 2015-16.”
  • Crime in Durham schools, meanwhile, rose 17 percent even as enrollment fell.
  • The high school dropout rate rose slightly, to 2.31 percent from 2.29 percent, and the number of statewide dropouts rose by about 2 percent. Much of that is due to Wake County, which saw “a 70 percent increase in dropouts to 1,302 students. Gattis said the increase was due to Wake’s ‘noble effort’ to bring back students who had dropped out. He said those students previously would not have been counted in Wake’s numbers.”

WHAT IT MEANS: When a horrific tragedy like Parkland happens, we can lose sight of the fact that schools are, on the whole, getting safer. To reiterate Gattis’s point: “Crimes now are basically at sort of historical lows in terms of what we have seen this century since we’ve been tracking them.” Other good news: school suspensions, both long- and short-term, are down across the state, the former owing to a change of Wake County classification policy. However, black students are still suspended at much higher rates than their peers; they make up a quarter of the school population but account for more than half of suspensions.

Related: Students in two N.C. school districts—Robeson and Graham—are still being paddled. In Robeson, more than half of all corporal punishments were administered to American Indian students. Statewide, 13 percent of paddlings were administered to students with disabilities.

Related: The sheriff of Rockingham County wants to have armed volunteers guard schools.

Related: Police arrested a Knightdale High School student who allegedly posted two Twitter messages, one with him pointing a gun at the camera, urging students not to let the system make them “normal.”

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