WAKE COUNTY, N.C. (WNCN) — Wake County Public School System leaders met Tuesday afternoon to take a hard look at their school-security procedures.
This meeting came coincidentally after a series of lockdowns and threats last week, causing parents to wonder if their children are safe in the classroom.
Wake County Sheriff Willie Rowe told CBS 17 he is concerned.
He said so far this school year there have been 346 incidents reported, including assaults, possessions of weapons on campus, threats, and more.
Rowe said there are procedures in place to keep students and staff safe after a threat is reported, but more needs to be done.
It’s a scene becoming all too familiar for Wake County parents: waiting with worry, outside of their child’s school, after learning about a lock down.
“I was texting [my daughter] are you ok? Where are you at? What’s going on?” recalled Deana Faison, a Zebulon Magnet Middle School parent, last week. “It was scary. We did not know if there was an active shooter or not.”
It happened several times during the first week of February.
Zebulon Middle School and Rolesville High School had to close their classroom doors, while law enforcement officers searched for danger inside.
“My heart breaks for you. Know that we’re doing the best we can, but we want to do it right,” officers were heard telling scared parents on Friday.
A Wake County Public Schools representative told CBS 17 the district does not track how many times these threats or lockdowns have happened.
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction only requires school districts to report 16 different safety concerns, including bomb threats or incidents with weapons.
Social media or verbal threats of violence are not included in the list.
Rowe told CBS 17 they have seen an uptick of threats made, especially on social media.
He said the threats are coming from both locally and from abroad.
“Until we identify if it’s a threat or not a threat, we have to be cautious,” Rowe explained. “It only takes one incident to become a disaster and result in a loss of life.”
Under North Carolina law, making a threat of violence on educational property is considered a low-level felony.
Sheriff Rowe told CBS 17, depending on the age of the person and how the threat was made, it could even be classified as a misdemeanor and dealt with in juvenile court.
“If we can find a way to put more teeth in the bite with punishment, I think that will help derail these types of threats,” he explained.
A WCPSS representative told CBS 17, on their end, when it comes to disciplinary action regarding threats made, they look at each one on a case-by-case basis.