COVINGTON, Ga. - The Newton County School System (NCSS) and the Newton County Sheriff’s Office (NCSO) do what they can to prevent crime at Newton County’s public high schools. But unfortunately, criminal activity does occur.
This is the first of two stories on crime and prevention at Newton County’s public high schools. Today, The Covington News reports crime statistics, next week’s story will cover crime prevention.
Table 1 shows the number of times a call for service was placed from one of the high schools to the NCSO and the number of crimes reported by school resource officers to the NCSO for each high school for each of the past three years. These data were provided by the NCSO in response to open records requests. A breakdown of these numbers by type of crime was not readily available.
High school students appear to be much safer in-school than they are outside-of-school within Newton County. number of crimes per thousand students and employees in the high schools is significantly lower than the number of crimes in the entire county per thousand citizens. During the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 academic years, the high school crime rate was about 69 percent lower than the county-wide crime rate.
Furthermore, the NCSO received more than 10 times fewer calls for service from the high schools relative to the number from people in the county.
According to a report provided by Sheriff Ezell Brown, the NCSO received about one call for service for every two county citizens between May 25, 2016 and May 25, 2017. During the 2016-2017 academic year, it received about one call for every 22 students plus employees in the high schools.
To provide a point of comparison with another school district, The Covington News reached out to Cindy Ball, chief of strategy and innovation for Rockdale County Public Schools (RCPS). Due to reporting and enrollment differences, exact comparisons are not possible. NCSS enrolls more than 19,000 and the RCPS more than 16,000 students.
However, the information supplied by Ball verifies that high school misbehavior and crime is not unique to Newton County high schools.
Rockdale County’s three high schools experienced a total of 223 and 172 “high priority discipline” incidents in 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 respectively. In its system, high priority discipline incidents include bullying, fighting, drugs, weapons, gangs, assault on staff and criminal law violations. According to Ball, all of these incidents except bullying are reported to law enforcement.