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Report shows crime, violence and misbehavior surged in NC public schools in 2022

LA Johnson

A report presented to the state Board of Education Wednesday confirms what teachers and parents have been saying: Crime, violence and misbehavior in North Carolina’s public schools surged last year, as students returned after pandemic disruptions.

Crime, violent incidents, suspensions and expulsions in public schools dropped when classrooms closed in March of 2020. The number stayed low the following school year, when many students remained in remote learning. But the latest annual report shows the rate of criminal and violent acts hit a 10-year high in the year that ended last June, when all schools reopened for in–person classes.

Karen Fairley, director of North Carolina’s Center for Safer Schools, said, "11,170 acts of crime and violence were reported across the state in 2021-22, which is over 1,600 more than what it was in 2018-19."

The rate of crime and violence per thousand students, which accounts for fluctuations in enrollment, was up 19% over the last full pre–pandemic year. The state saw increases in possession of guns, other weapons and controlled substances, as well as assaults involving use of weapons.

Suspensions and expulsions were also more frequent last year than they were before the pandemic.

State officials didn’t talk about what drove the spike. But across the country, educators reported a surge of discipline problems and mental health challenges as students returned to school buildings after their lives had been upended.