Sheriff: Drugs go unreported in schools

November 5, 2010 3:26:46 PM PDT
An ABC11 Eyewitness News I-Team investigation reveals that there were 425 drug incidents reported in 2009 in Wake County Middle and High schools.

That's an average of 12 a week during the school year, and nearly 150 of those cases were serious enough to be passed on to police.

But Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison says the numbers don't tell the full story.

"A lot of times our school resource officers tell me that they are not notified. Maybe a teacher finds some drugs, they take it and they handle it themselves. Well, if we're not notified, we can't do anything about it," he said.

ABC11 went along with deputies who used drug sniffing dogs to search one school. One that day, the search turned up nothing. Harrison said on at least one previous search, a woman told him students were tipped off.

"Her son had come home and said the Wake County Sheriff's Office is gonna be in school next week and our coach told us if we had marijuana or any other drugs, don't have it there on Wednesday, because that's when they're coming," said Harrison.

"That really concerned me," he continued.

Harrison says he'd like to see a better relationship between the school district and law enforcement.

"I understand that the administration - they are like anybody else - they don't want drugs in their schools, but they don't want to get labeled if we find some, you know, you got drugs in your schools," he said.

Harrison says the school system and school administrators need to adopt a different mindset and that if they have a problem, they need to talk to him about it.

Wake County Principal of the Year Dana King - who leads Raleigh's Millbrook High - disagrees with Harrison.

"We want to win academically. We want to win athletically. We're not interested I believe in winning by under-reporting criminal behavior acts of our students," she said.

Millbrook had 26 drug incidents in 2009 - more than any other school in Wake County - followed by Sanderson, Wakefield and Broughton.

Click here to see the reports for middle and high schools in Wake County (.pdf)

King says she and her staff are not ignoring the problem.

"The sooner we get those criminal behaviors and students out of our system, the sooner our school is elevated," she offered.

ABC11 also spoke with Tripp Crayton, the principal of Wakefield High. He said he is not aware of any drug problem at his school, but he added if there is he's "not going to hide it."

The Poe Center has a lot of resources to help parents spot drug use among their teenagers and they have information that can help you keep your kids away from drugs.

Click here for more information from the Poe Center website.

Click here for part 2 of the I-Team investigation of drug abuse among students.

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