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Teacher background checks and school dropouts

The State Board of Education heard a presentation on criminal screening procedures during the second day of its meeting last week. This follows on a USA Today story that talked about problems with the procedures of screening teachers for criminal activity in the state.

In an introduction to the presentation, Superintendent June Atkinson mentioned a 2010 task force that looked at licensing procedures for teachers. “That group made some recommendations about how we could improve the process,” she said, adding that some of those recommendations have been implemented through the state’s electronic licensing system.

Watch the video on state statutes regarding criminal background checks for teachers below.

Crime and dropouts

The State Board also heard a report on crime in schools, dropouts, and suspension rates during the second day of the meeting.

Crimes rates in high schools went up 6.6 percent in 2014-15. The rate decreased in lower grades.

There was an overall increase of short-term suspensions of 5.2 percent.

Long-term suspensions went up in high schools only at a rate of 6.6 percent.

Expulsions went up 13.5 percent. But that percentage represents a relatively low number, 42 for 2014-15, up from 37 the previous year. High school students were responsible for 37 of the 42 expulsions.

The dropout rate for high schools increased to 2.39 percent, up from 2.28 percent. This was the first increase in the dropout rate since 2006-07.

Corporal punishment was used 147 times in North Carolina for 2014-15. It was used only in four counties:

  • Robeson County used it 88 times.
  • Graham County used it 47 times.
  • Macon County used it 11 times.
  • Swain County used it one time.

Here is the full report. Watch the video of the presentation below.

State Board Legislative Agenda

The State Board heard a presentation on the draft of the legislative agenda heading into this spring’s short session of the General Assembly. Increasing teacher pay is one of the priorities for the Board.

Here is the draft of the agenda. Below is the video of the presentation.

North Carolina Virtual Public School

Eliz Colbert, executive director of the North Carolina Virtual Public School, presented to the Board on a report about alternative funding for the Virtual Public School. Read our previous article about this for the background.

Colbert told the board that the Virtual Public School Advisory Council is recommending leaving the funding procedure the same. She also discussed with the Board coming up with a pilot that would experiment with alternative funding for the school. The advisory council is going to pick an alternative model for a pilot and report back to the Board.

Here is the document from the presentation.

Note:  The North Carolina Virtual Public School is the second largest state virtual school in the nation. The newer online charter schools in North Carolina are separate and different. 

Alex Granados

Alex Granados is senior reporter for EducationNC.