WILSON’S LOCAL PRINT AND DIGITAL COMMUNITY INSTITUTION SINCE 1896

Wilson County school crime sees slight increase

Alcohol possession, bomb threats down; guns, drugs up

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Discipline data gathered by Wilson County Schools show reportable offenses increased slightly in three years of analysis submitted to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.

Data from the 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years was presented to the Wilson County Board of Education on June 10.

“We noticed that through those three years there was some fluctuation, but within a reasonable range,” said board member Henry Mercer, speaking on behalf of the school board’s Administrative Services Committee.

The data covers a wide range of situations including assault resulting from serious injury, assault involving the use of a weapon, assault on school personnel, bomb threats, burning of a school building, death by other than natural causes, kidnapping, possession of alcohol, possession of a firearm, possession of a controlled substance, possession of a weapon, rape, robbery with a dangerous weapon, sexual assault, sexual offense and taking indecent liberties with a minor.

“While these data are reported annually to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, we review our patterns and numbers on a regular basis,” said Lane Mills, superintendent of Wilson County Schools. “Like other school systems across the state, we too experience some issues that must be reported. Our overall discipline infractions have been reduced this year, and we will continue to get feedback from our students, teachers and principals regarding behavior and expectations in our schools.”

Over the entire three-year period, there were no instances reported of assault resulting in serious injury, burning of a school building, death by other than natural causes, kidnapping, rape, robbery with a dangerous weapon, sexual assault, sexual offense or taking indecent liberties with a minor at any schools in the district.

The data shows the overall number of reported offenses for 2016-17 was 70, for 2017-18 was 64 and for 2018-19 was 77.

In 2016-17, the schools with the highest number of reportable offenses were Hunt High School with 21, Darden Middle School with 15 and Beddingfield and Fike high schools tied for third with seven.

In 2017-18, schools with the most reportable offenses were Hunt High School with 14, Beddingfield High School with 11 and Fike High School with 10.

In 2018-19, schools with the most reportable offenses were Beddingfield High School with 16, Fike High School with 11 and Toisnot Middle School with 10.

Over the three years, there was one instance of assault involving use of a weapon and that occurred at Barnes Elementary School in 2018-19.

Assaults on school personnel have generally increased, with nine occurring in 2016-17, four in 2017-18 and 11 in 2018-19.

Bomb threats have decreased, from seven in both 2016-17 and 2017-18 and two occurring in 2018-19.

Possession of alcohol instances have decreased, from four in 2016-17 to one in 2017-18 and zero in 2018-19.

By contrast, instances of possession of controlled substances have increased, from 36 in 2016-17, with a dip to 27 in 2017-18 and a bounce back to 39 in 2018-19.

Among middle schools in the county, the instances of possession of a controlled substance have bounced back up. In 2016-17, there were 13, in 2017-18 there were four and in 2018-19 there were 12.

Occurrences of firearm possession increased dramatically. In 2016-17, there were none, in 2017-18, there was one and in 2018-19, there were seven.

Instances of possession of a weapon were down following a spike last year. In 2016-17, there were 14, in 2017-18 there were 24 and in 2018-19 there were 17.

For middle schools, possession of a weapon went from nine in 2016-17 and 2017-19 to seven in 2018-19.

Elementary schools saw nine instances of weapon possession in 2017-18 and seven in 2018-19.

“In some cases, for example, possession of a weapon, it may show three offenses, but it may be one weapon where there were several people involved with it,” Mercer said. “The numbers have not, by and large, changed a lot, but they have fluctuated.”

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