After decline, reports of violence back up in Rowan schools

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 12, 2013

After two years of decline, the Rowan-Salisbury School System saw about a 37 percent increase in the number of reportable acts of crime and violence during the 2011-12 academic year, according to data released Thursday by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.
A total of 104 incidents were reported, up from 76 the previous year for a rate of 5.2 acts per 1,000 students. The rate was 3.9 during 2011-12.
The Kannapolis City school system experienced the opposite trend.
The district saw a 20 percent decrease in the number of reportable acts of crime and violence, which fell from 35 to 28.
The rate per 1,000 students dipped from 6.8 to 5.5.
Kannapolis is among the five school systems in the state with the largest three-year decrease in rates for high schools, according to the education department.
Statewide, the total number of reported incidents dropped by about 4 percent from 11,657 to 11,161. The rate fell from 8.03 to 7.63 acts per 1,000 students.
The Safe Schools Act requires districts to report 16 specific acts of crime and violence to the State Board of Education. Those range from alcohol possession to burning a school building to homicide.
Locally, the most frequently reported incidents involved illegal possession of controlled substances, weapons (excluding firearms and powerful explosive) and alcoholic beverages. Statewide, those account for 84 percent of the total number of reported offenses.
Possession of a controlled substance was reported 70 times in the Rowan-Salisbury district, including 13 times at North Rowan High, 15 at Carson and 18 at South Rowan. That number jumped by 89 percent from 37 incidents the previous year.
There were 22 reports of possession of a weapon, five of which were at Koontz Elementary and four at South Rowan High. The number of such incidents grew by about 29 percent from 17.
Alcohol possession was reported eight times, including three at China Grove Middle, twice at Salisbury High and West Rowan High and once at North Rowan High. That’s a 50 percent increase from four times the previous year.
There were three reports of possession of a firearm, two at Erwin Middle and one at Overton. Two were reported during the 2010-11 school year.
The district had one report of assault on school personnel at Landis Elementary, that’s down by 85 percent from seven.
Although there were fewer incidents reported at Henderson Independent this year, the alternative high school had the highest rate of crime and violence in the district at 87.7 acts per 1,000 students, an increase of 5 percent from 83.3 the pervious year.
All five acts reported were of students in possession of a controlled substance.
South Rowan High had the highest rate of any regular school at 24.5 per 1,000 students. A total of 24 acts were reported, 18 for possession of a controlled substance, four for possession of a weapon and two for possession of alcohol.
North Rowan High followed with a rate of 21.3, Carson High with 14, Koontz Elementary with 12.6, China Grove Middle with 11.8 and East Rowan High with 10.4.
Nineteen of the district’s 35 schools reported no incidents. That includes Bostian, China Grove, Cleveland, Shive, Enochville, Faith Granite Quarry, Isenberg, Hanford Dole, Knollwood, Morgan, Rockwell, Mount Ulla, North Rowan and Woodleaf elementary schools; Knox and Southeast middle; and the Rowan County Early College and West Rowan High.
District officials did not return requests from a Post reporter for comment on the data Friday.
There were 20 reports of possession of a controlled substance in Kannapolis, including 13 at A.L. Brown High and seven at Kannapolis Middle. That figure climbed by almost 18 percent from 17 the previous year.
The district had four reports of possession of a weapon, including one at A.L. Brown, one at Kannapolis Intermediate and two at Kannapolis Middle. The occurrence of such incidents fell by 67 percent from 12 the previous year.
There was one report of assault on school personnel at Kannapolis Middle. The district reported two incidents during 2010-11.
Kannapolis Middle had the highest rate of crime and violence at 17.2 per 1,000 students. A total of 13 incidents were reported including seven for possession of a controlled substance; two for both possession of a weapon and possession of alcohol; and one for both assault involving use of a weapon and assault on school personnel.
A.L. Brown had the next highest rate at 10.2 with 14 total reported acts.
Kannapolis Intermediate was the only other school to report an incident. The school had one act of possession of a weapon.
District Spokeswoman Ellen Boyd said the school system attributes the drop in crime and violence to a number of things.
“We’ve got really good resource officers in grades five through 12,” she said. “They are a really great partner.”
Boyd said the Sgt. Daniel Wallace, who supervises the resource officers, has taken proactive approach rather than reacting to situations later.
“He’s just got a passion for that,” she said.
Boyd said the districtwide uniform policy might also be a factor in the dip in violence.
“It allows for really good monitoring of students,” she said. “Overall, we have effective procedures in place in all the schools.”
The alternative learning program, now in it’s third year, is another possible factor in the decline.
“Students can be moved from main campuses over there before problems happen,” Boyd said.
Boyd said the latest data shows that district puts an emphasis on safety. “That’s always been the case,” she said. “I think all schools are focused on student safety and I feel sure that’s the case in every school district.”
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.