Stanly County Schools sees uptick in reported crimes, dropouts compared with pre-pandemic numbers

Published 11:03 am Wednesday, March 29, 2023

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School crimes have increased dramatically above pre-pandemic levels in Stanly County, as have the number of dropouts, according to the annual Consolidated Data Report released earlier this month by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.

The number of school crimes in the 2021-22 school year was 116 — 300% more than before the pandemic in the 2018-19 school year (29), although it is still a small sample size. Only 13 crimes were reported during the 2020-21 school year, though many students were still working from home due to COVID-19.

This increase is consistent with statewide data: 11,170 crimes were committed in schools across North Carolina, a 17% increase from the 2018-19 school year (9,554).

The most frequently reported crime for schools in Stanly County was possession of controlled substances (60), followed by possession of a weapon, which excludes firearms and powerful explosives (30). Both are significant increases from the 2018-19 school year, when there were only nine reports of controlled substances and 12 reports of weapons.

The only other double-digit reported crime was assault on school personnel (12), which was an increase from five in 2018-19.

Stanly County Schools announced last month that it would soon be administering safety checks in the high schools and middle schools using metal detectors.

Stanly County Schools has been working with local law enforcement agencies, including Albemarle Police and Stanly County Sheriff’s Office, to bolster security within schools, including by recently purchasing portable metal detectors and by making sure school resource officers are placed within each of the district’s 10 elementary schools.

“We want our students and staff to feel safe so they can come to school to learn and to teach,” Jennifer Flowe, district director of safety and security, said last summer before the start of the school year.

Besides an uptick in reported crime, there was also an increase in the number of dropouts in grades 1 through 12. Stanly recorded 68 student dropouts in 2021-22. This is a 17% increase from the 58 reported in 2018-19. Of the 68 dropouts last year, 49 were male.

The high schools accounted for almost all of the dropouts last year. West Stanly had 19, Albemarle had 15, and North Stanly and Stanly Academy Learning Center each had 12. South Stanly had three.

The number of dropouts statewide (11,711) was 17% higher than before the pandemic in the 2018-19 school year (9,991), per the data.

While the number of short-term suspensions rose 7% statewide compared to the 2018-19 school year, suspensions actually decreased in Stanly. The number of short-term suspensions for the 2021-22 school year among all Stanly schools was 1,317 — 9% less than in 2018-19 (1,442).

The number of long-term suspensions among Stanly schools, which are for 10 or more days, was pretty comparable between the two school years. Nine students received long-term suspensions in 2021-22 compared with seven students who received the same suspensions in 2018-19.

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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