12/09/07 — Goldsboro High tops list for crime stats

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Goldsboro High tops list for crime stats

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on December 9, 2007 2:01 AM

Crime and violence are down in the public schools during last school year, with two of the 33 county schools reporting the highest incidents locally.

According to the annual Report on School Crime and Violence presented this week to the State Board of Education, Wayne County had 93 incidents reported for 2006-07, including 34 drug possession charges and 29 weapon possessions.

Goldsboro High School topped the local list with 20 incidents, while Grantham had 19. The bulk of the schools trailed far behind, with 17 schools reporting three or fewer incidents, and 11 boasting none.

At Goldsboro, the breakdown included 12 cases of controlled substances, three weapon possessions, possession of a firearm and assaults resulting in serious injury, two each, and one possession of an alcoholic beverage.

Grantham's incidents included five cases of weapon possession, four cases each of assault on school personnel and possession of a controlled substance, three sexual offenses and one case each of sexual assault, possession of a firearm and assault involving a weapon.

Allison Pridgen, director of student support services for Wayne County Public Schools, cautioned against targeting individual schools because of the behavior of a few.

"We can't control what children bring to school and unfortunately we do have children that make bad decisions," she said.

She called it "happenstance" that Goldsboro and Grantham had the highest numbers last year. In previous years, she noted, it had been other schools.

"Bad decisions on the part of children can happen at any schools, so you can't say one school is worse than the other."

In fact, Mrs. Pridgen said, oftentimes the incidents don't even occur on school grounds. School officials periodically have to handle cases where youths are involved in felonies, far more serious and yet not included on the state's crime and violence report.

School systems by law are required to report any incidents regarding infractions by students.

Still, she noted, "That's not to say that any of our schools are dangerous or have done a poor job of educating our children. While we're always looking for a reduction in every school, that doesn't happen."

Education of another sort is helping reduce some of the numbers, Mrs. Pridgen said.

"Usually we learn of these illegal possessions from other students, so I think Wayne County staff and students have done a terrific job with regard to reporting, and I think our staff members in general have done a tremendous job in educating children about the dangers of weapons and the importance of reporting it to an adult, a staff member or administrator," she said.

While efforts to reduce crime and violence in the schools will continue, Mrs. Pridgen said it is important not to grow discouraged over the latest report.

"We don't take these incidents personally. We take it as a sign that the children have made a bad decision and it's a learning opportunity, not only for the offender but for the others at the school," she said.