Most high schools in western Wake County saw an uptick in the number of reported crimes last school year.
Five high schools that draw students from western Wake saw increases in school crimes: Apex, Cary, Green Hope, Middle Creek and Panther Creek.
Athens Drive, Fuquay-Varina and Holly Springs high schools saw decreases during the 2012-13 school year.
Panther Creek saw the most reported crimes, 43. Thirty of the crimes involved possession of a controlled substance. Four cases involved possession of alcohol, and nine were for possession of a weapon.
During the 2011-12 school year, Panther Creek had 21 reported crimes.
Green Hope High School saw the fewest reported crimes among western Wake County high schools last year with 14. Most of those cases involved possession of a controlled substance.
The year before, Green Hope had nine reported crimes.
Wake County, which is the state’s largest school system, saw an overall decrease in the number of reported school crimes.
Last school year, there were 1,037 reported crimes in elementary through high schools. The prior year, there were 1,099.
Last week when the state numbers were released, Wake school leaders focused on improvements in the dropout rate and school crime rate. But the new state numbers also showed that Wake, whose suspension policies are under federal review, issued 1,155 more short-term suspensions last school year than the previous school year.
During the 2012-13 school year, Wake issued 15,378 short-term suspensions, in which students were kept out of school for 10 or fewer days. That was an 8.1 percent increase in Wake from the 2011-12 school year at the same time there was a statewide 4 percent drop.
Wake school officials pointed to the changes in recent years that have reduced the number of short-term suspensions from a high of 22,707 in the 2007-08 school year. Wake had taken steps such as creating a five-tier system of offenses and encouraging principals not to issue suspensions for minor infractions.
“(The) Wake Board of Education has been reviewing policy and making changes intended to keep more students from facing out-of-school suspension,” Renee McCoy, a Wake schools’ spokeswoman, said in a statement last Wednesday. “WCPSS will continue to review this recently released data in our efforts to continue to make progress toward the academic achievement goals for all of our students.”
In addition, McCoy said, Wake administration and staff have been making more alternative settings available, to keep students attending school while still maintaining a “safe and orderly learning environment.”
In western Wake, Athens Drive High School had the most short-term suspensions last school year with 550. Green Hope had the fewest with 60.
Meanwhile, Middle Creek had the most long-term suspensions among western Wake high schools, with 16. Green Hope and Panther had the fewest, with three each.