CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The number of criminal and violent incidents in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools continued climbing in 2012, fueled partly by a large and steadily growing number of assaults on teachers and other school employees, a new state report shows.
The annual report on crime and violence in N.C. public schools tallied 1,552 such acts in 2011-12, including 512 incidents of students found with weapons other than guns, 434 drug possession incidents and 382 assaults on school employees. The CMS rate of 11.3 incidents per 1,000 students is well above the state rate of 7.6 per 1,000 and Wake County’s rate of 7.5 per 1,000.
CMS reported eight guns in schools last year, including two at Turning Point Academy, an alternative school for students with discipline problems, and one each at Collinswood Language Academy, Endhaven and Hidden Valley elementary schools and Hough, North Mecklenburg and West Mecklenburg High Schools. That’s the largest number in the last four years, but well below a peak of 28 in 2006-07, when the district had fewer students.
Wake, the state’s largest district, reported only two guns in schools last year. Wake tallied a total of 40 violent acts, compared with 124 in CMS.
For the last several years, through various changes in district leadership, officials have struggled to explain and address the high levels of crime and violence, and particularly the steep rise in assaults on staff. This year’s total of 382 is up from 305 the previous year and 104 five years ago.
Officials have noted that assaults on staff can include relatively minor incidents, such as young children striking out or students intentionally bumping teachers in the hall. Metro and Morgan, special schools for students with disabilities, accounted for 67 of this year’s assaults on staff, with a handful of elementary schools also logging 10 or more such assaults.
CMS reported 12 assaults resulting in serious injury, a category that can include students or adults as victims.
CMS also reported almost 50 short-term suspensions for every 100 high school students, well above the state average of 30 per 100 and Wake’s rate of 16 per 100. African American students, who made up 42 percent of CMS enrollment last year, accounted for 77 percent of the short-term suspensions.
Superintendent Heath Morrison, who started in July, has called on CMS to look at the causes of such racial disparities in schools.
Read more on this story as it develops.