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Crime numbers up in schools

By Holly Fesperman Lee

Salisbury Post

School crime and violence is up in North Carolina and the Rowan-Salisbury School System, according to a report released Thursday from the Department of Public Instruction.

Crime numbers have increased in most neighboring school systems as well.

The latest annual Report on School Crime and Violence indicates that Kannapolis City, Iredell-Statesville and Stanly County school systems all saw increases in crime and violence this past school year. Cabarrus County was the only district that reported a decrease.

According to the report, there were 118 acts of school violence in the Rowan-Salisbury System this past school year. That’s 47 more than the previous year.

“Anytime you see these numbers increase you’re disappointed and concerned,” said Dr. Alan King, Rowan-Salisbury assistant superintendent for administration. “As a result of more national problems, more school violence is being reported nationwide. As a result of that, we’re continuing to put more and more emphasis on our safe schools.”

King said the increase in school crime and violence last school year could be attributed to two things: more problems or a school’s administration doing a better job of documenting things that happened. Schools are most likely documenting more now than ever because of the increased concern on safety, he said.

All Rowan-Salisbury schools have practiced at least one lockdown drill at this point in the school year, according to King. The system works closely with the Rowan County Sheriff’s Department to conduct these drills and monitor other aspects of school safety, King said.

“Safety of our students is one of our very top priorities,” he said.

Cabarrus County reported 172 incidents, Kannapolis City reported 24, the Iredell-Statesville system had 103 and Stanly County had 102.

Statewide there were 7.9 acts of violence per 1,000 students, a slight increase from the 2004-2005 school year when that number was 7.49.

“As in past reports, four categories of incidents are responsible for 93 percent of all reported offenses. They are possession of a controlled substance in violation of the law, possession of a weapon excluding firearms and power explosives, possession of an alcoholic beverage and assault on school personnel not resulting in serious injury,” the report said.

The school crime and violence report tracks incidents by school and type.

Of the 118 incidents in the Rowan-Salisbury System, offenses reported include:

n One bomb threat.

n One case of assault resulting in serious injury.

n Two cases of fire arm possession.

n Three sexual assaults.

n Three cases of sexual offense.

n Six instances of assault on school personnel.

n 17 cases of alcohol possession.

n 28 cases of weapons possession.

n 57 cases of possession of a controlled substance.

In a news release issued Thursday, the Department of Public Instruction stated that “although the 2005-06 Report on School Crime and Violence shows increases in the number of acts reported by local school districts, it’s important to note that nearly one-half (43 percent of 998 schools) of all schools reported no acts of crime or violence. In fact, 75 percent (1,746 schools) of all schools reported five or fewer acts last year.”

Many Rowan-Salisbury Schools were crime and violence free in the 2005-2006 school year.

All but one of the system’s elementary schools were incident free this past year. Overton Elementary reported one act of school crime or violence.

According to the report, China Grove Middle School is the only Rowan-Salisbury middle school that was violence free last year.

Total number of incidents reported at other middle schools include:

n One at Erwin Middle.

n One at Southeast Middle.

n Seven at North Rowan Middle.

n Seven at West Rowan Middle.

n 10 at Chorrier-Lipe Middle.

n 14 at Knox Middle.

West Rowan High School was the only Rowan County high school that didn’t report any violent acts. Salisbury High had only one incident reported.

There were 12 acts at Henderson High, 14 at South Rowan, 15 at East Rowan and 32 at North Rowan, according to the report.

Contact Holly Lee at 704-797-7683 or hlee@salisburypost.com.

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