Local News

School Gangs Prompt Father to Send Son Out of Cumberland County

Posted February 10, 2007 12:11 a.m. EST

— A Fayetteville parent is so worried about his son's safety because of gangs in a high school that he has pulled his teenager out of class and sent him to another county.

Gangs are a dangerous trend that authorities say is only getting worse.

The case in point is Cape Fear High School. James Herring believes gangs are out of control there, and he pulled his 15-year-old son out of class after the boy was threatened by gang members.

"He was scared to go back in there," Herring said Friday. "These schools right here are getting bad."

He charged that school officials did nothing, even though there were witnesses to the incident with his son.

"These kids witnessed it and told the principal they saw it, and the principal said, ‘We'll talk to them.’"

Principal Jeffrey Jernigan declined to discuss the case with WRAL,

However, Tim Kinlaw, associate superintendent for auxiliary services for the Cumberland County Schools said there is an issue for educators to deal with.

"I think it’s getting worse throughout North Carolina, and we're seeing it at a younger age," Kinlaw said.

According to school records, nine students at Cape Fear High were punished for gang-related activities last year. It's easy to find evidence of those gangs’ “tags”—their markings—even on street signs just down the road from the school.

"There's no real wanna-be's. If they wanna be, they're gonna be," said Fayetteville Police Lt. Mark Bridgeman. “You have to take it seriously."

Police are working with schools to divert gangsters from a lifestyle of violence, and the student code of conduct now has a separate category for gang activity and says it is punishable under a zero-tolerance policy.

Herring is skeptical.

"The principal, teachers and officers on duty are scared of the gangs, or the don't have the resources to control the gangs,” Herring said. "If they can't handle it, the parents need to get more involved and take care of it."