Winston-Salem, NC-- Friday, the Winston-Salem Forsyth County School System (WSFCS) was given a thumbs up by the State Bureau of Investigatons and the Forsyth County District Attorney Office for changes it made when it comes to reporting crimes that happen within the school system.
In September 2010, the Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O'Neill requested that the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) conduct look into into whether WSFCS staff were properly reporting school crimes and inappropriate teacher behavior to law enforcement authorities, as was required by statute.
During that investigation, the SBI seized numerous records and teacher personnel files. Agents discovered that the former record keeping system maintained by WSFCS, as to the existence of complaints and alleged crimes occurring at school campuses, was inadequate and unreliable. The SBI then began a tedious and arduous process of attempting to review files and personnel records by hand which were kept at the WS/FCS.
As a result of their investigation, the SBI discovered certain unreported alleged crimes and turned those files and records over to the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office (FCSO) for follow-up investigation. The FCSO attempted to investigate many of these allegations and brought charges where they could. In other instances, detectives were unable to find witnesses or parties interested in pursuing any action.
While the SBI was conducting their investigation, North Carolina lawmakers changed the reporting requirements statute which applied to state run school systems, so that a principal who failed to immediately report a crime to authorities could no longer be held criminally liable.
The SBI finished its investigation and as a result WSFCS changed their record keeping system to help track alleged crimes occurring on campuses. In its final report the agency said WSFCS is now doing a thorough job in reporting alleged crimes to the proper authorities so that trained law enforcement professionals can conduct criminal investigations into serious matters. They also noted the cooperation of school officials saying many of the reviewed files and records would not have been found had it not been for their help.
*Information provided by the Forsyth County District Attorney's Office.