A lot more violent and threatening behavior takes place in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C. schools than officials disclose, reports the Charlotte Observer. The state’s public report on school crime ranks Charlotte-Mecklenburg among the safest districts in North Carolina, with 537 serious crimes last school year among 113,859 students.
An Observer investigation found the state crime report vastly understates what’s going on in Mecklenburg schools. The report measures a fraction of incidents that pose a threat to students. The school system admitted that it failed to disclose some crimes the state report requires. The newspaper looked at police reports, arrests, and suspensions from the 2003-04 school year, and found 1,473 crimes reported to police at schools, 631 of them violent or threatening; 1,203 arrests at schools, mostly of students, 745 involving violent or threatening acts. Police estimate about 70 percent of those arrests were for crimes committed on campus; and 12,681 suspensions of students for violent or threatening acts. After hearing the Observer’s findings, incoming interim Superintendent Frances Haithcock plans to review what schools disclose about crime. “You have to discuss not only the great things,” she said, “but also the brutal facts about what is going well and what’s not.”