Crime, dropout rates increase in NC schools

Posted February 24, 2016
Updated March 3, 2016

— Crime and dropout rates in North Carolina public schools increased last year, according to a state report.

The state's overall crime rate in schools increased 1.5 percent from 2013-14 to 2014-15 and 6.6 percent at the high school level. The dropout rate increased 4.8 percent during the same time period.

State Superintendent June Atkinson said the state "must renew efforts to bring these students back into the school system so they can graduate." She called the rise in crime "a trend in the wrong direction," saying she is "particularly concerned that these increases are among the same groups of students at the same grade levels."

Among the report's findings:

Reportable crimes

  • The high school crime rate increased 6.6 percent. However, there was a decrease in crimes by students in lower grades.
  • Crimes were most frequently committed by students who were ninth graders and male. Among ethnic groups in high school, American Indian students had the highest rate of school crimes, followed by black students.
  • School districts reporting zero grade 9-13 crimes were: Elkin City, Jones County, Tyrrell County and Washington County. Grade 13 includes students in early college high school.
  • Of the school districts with more than zero crimes, those with the lowest rates of grade 9-13 crimes were: Cherokee County, Columbus County, Bertie County, Roanoke Rapids City, Dare County and Gates County.
  • School districts with the highest rates of grade 9-13 crimes were: Transylvania County, Warren County, Perquimans County, Yadkin County, Asheville City, Greene County, Chatham County, Brunswick County, McDowell County and Buncombe County.
  • School districts reporting the largest three-year decreases in rates of grade 9-13 crimes were: Elkin City, Jones County, Tyrell County, Washington County and Cherokee County.
  • School districts with the largest three-year increases in rates of grade 9-13 crimes were: Swain County, Newton Conover City, Warren County, Edenton/Chowan and Greene County. Although Newton Conover City and Edenton/Chowan had large increases, their 2014-15 grade 9-13 crime rates were below the state average.
  • The most frequently reported crimes in high school were 1) possession of a controlled substance in violation of the law, 2) possession of a weapon excluding firearms and powerful explosives, and 3) possession of an alcoholic beverage.

Short-term suspensions

  • There were 86,578 grade 9-13 short-term suspensions reported statewide in 2014-15, an increase of 2.7 percent from the 2013-14 total of 84,295.
  • One of nine North Carolina high school students received at least one out-of-school short-term suspension in 2014-15. Many students received only one suspension each year, but a number of students received multiple short-term suspensions.
  • High school students who received short-term suspensions in 2014-15 averaged 1.83 suspensions each. The average total duration of short-term suspensions for high school students who received at least one suspension was 6.44 days.
  • The average duration of a single short-term suspension was 3.51 days. The grade 9-13 short-term suspension rate was 1.95 suspensions per 10 students.
  • Ninth grade students received the largest number of short-term suspensions.
  • The rate of short-term suspensions for male students was 2.8 times higher than for females.
  • Black students received the highest rate of short-term suspensions followed by American Indians.
  • Short-term suspension rates increased in 2014-15 for black, Hispanic, multiracial, and white students. Rates decreased for American Indian, Asian, and Hawaiian/Pacific Islander students.
  • Lexington City Schools reported zero short-term suspensions in 2014-15. Other school districts reporting the lowest rates of grade 9-13 short-term suspensions were: Watauga County, Clay County, Granville County, Asheboro City, Mooresville City, Elkin City, Alexander County and Ashe County.
  • School districts with the highest rates of grade 9-13 short-term suspensions were: Halifax County, Anson County, Weldon City, Richmond County, Caswell County, Robeson County, Hertford County, Edgecombe County, Whiteville City and Northampton County.
  • School districts reporting the largest three-year percentage decreases in rates of grade 9-13 short-term suspensions were Lexington City, Roanoke Rapids City, Watauga County, Tyrrell County and Granville County.
  • School districts with the largest three-year percentage increases in rates of grade 9-13 short-term suspensions were Clinton City, Graham County, Caswell County, Brunswick County, and Richmond County. Of these with large percentage increases, only Richmond County and Caswell City had 2014-15 rates that were above the state average.

Long-term suspensions

  • The number of long-term suspensions (11 or more days) for all students declined slightly from 1,088 to 1,085. Average school days per suspension increased from 62.6 to 72.4 school days. High school students received 761 long-term suspensions, a 6.6 percent increase from 2013-14.


  • The number of expulsions increased to 42, a 13.5 percent increase from the 37 reported for 2013-14. High school students received 37 of the 42 expulsions.

Alternative schools and programs

  • Alternative schools and programs (ALPs) reported 13,448 student placements in 2014-15, an 8.4 percent increase from the 12,403 reported in 2013-14. There were 12,657 individual students placed in ALPs during the 2014-15 school year. Schools made 4,023 assignments of students to ALPs as disciplinary actions.


  • High schools in North Carolina reported 11,190 dropouts in 2014-15. The grade 9-13 dropout rate in 2014-15 was 2.39 percent, up from the 2.28 percent reported for 2013-14. The increase in the dropout rate was 4.8 percent.
  • There were increases in the dropout count in 58.3 percent (67 of 115) of the school districts. Four districts stayed the same as the previous year. There were decreases in 38.3 percent (44 of 115) of the districts.
  • The 11,190 dropouts recorded in grades 9-13 represented a 7.6 percent increase from the count of 10,404 recorded in 2013-14.
  • School districts reporting the lowest high school dropout rates were: Newton Conover City, Hyde County, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City, Union County, Macon County, Clinton City, Washington County, Graham County, Currituck County and Yadkin County.
  • School districts reporting the highest dropout rates were: Warren County, Person County, Lexington City, Thomasville City, Scotland County, Halifax County, Lenoir County, Franklin County, Swain County and Caswell County.
  • School districts with the largest three-year percentage decreases in high school dropout rates were: Newton Conover City, Washington County, Hyde County, Macon County and Yadkin County.
  • School districts with the largest three-year percentage increases were Pamlico County, Hertford County, Warren County, Tyrrell County and Alleghany County. Despite the large three-year increase, Tyrrell County’s rate is still below the state average.

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  • Doug Smallen Mar 3, 2016
    user avatar

    More money, that's always the solution. How about holding the parent accountable for the little Devils.

  • Roy Hinkley Feb 25, 2016
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Not answering for yoshi, but you should know that the NC constitution mandates that all children be provided a sound basic education (that has been interpreted as K-12, as far as I know). So, in this state it is indeed "we, the people's" responsibility.

  • Brandon White Feb 25, 2016
    user avatar

    Yashi, what part of public schools are privatized? can you give us specifics? If you are going to make dogmatic accusations, then let's compare the crime statistics at private schools. Plus, when did it become "we the people's responsibility," to educate your children. If parents had to "PAY" to educate their children there would be an amazing turnaround in the number of children procreated. Plus, the discipline problem would be non-existent, and you can bet parents would be involved. Is that not want the public schools keep saying they want? Government spending does not improve anything, especially education. I suspect you think the "war on poverty," and social security are outstanding ideas. It is time "we the people," return to American, Judeo-Christian values and quit subsidizing "poor freedom of choice."

  • Fanny Chmelar Feb 25, 2016
    user avatar

    "That’s the standard technique of privatization: defund, make sure things don’t work, people get angry, you hand it over to private capital." - Noam Chomsky

    Vote out the incumbents and lets get We the People's voices back in government.

  • Roy Hinkley Feb 25, 2016
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    The article is quoting from the report. The report (since it's produced by a state agency that reports to the Feds) is very likely using the Federally defined racial categories.reporting up to the Feds..

  • Frank Curcio Feb 25, 2016
    user avatar

    "American Indian"? What happened to "Native American"? Did I miss an update to the Dictionary of Political Correctness or is this article using an expired phrase?

  • Matt Nickeson Feb 25, 2016
    user avatar

    I, for one, am glad to see some good reporting on WRAL for once. Thank you Kelly for providing some actual data instead of the generalities and unsubstantiated claims and comments that most writers seem to favor at this organization.

  • Sue Sloan Feb 25, 2016
    user avatar

    just so much smoke and mirrors...

  • Shannon Speil Feb 25, 2016
    user avatar

    Perhaps you didn't read the article before posting this mini rant. So I'll refer you back to said article under REPORTABLE CRIMES. Have fun ;)

  • Hamilton Bean Feb 24, 2016
    user avatar

    I guess that nobody will identify the groups responsible for the increase of dropouts, or the increase of crimes in the schools. To do so would be truthful, but racist. Screw the racist language--lets tell the truth..