Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Earnest Winston announced new safety measures as the district is on pace to confiscate a record number of guns this school year
So far, at least 18 guns have been found on CMS campuses this academic year — the latest two confiscated last week. That compares with a record 22 guns confiscated during the entire 2919 academic year.
In a memo to CMS families on Friday, Winston said last week’s mass shooting at a high school in Oxford, Mich., which left four students dead and several injured, “hits close to home.”
In addition to gun confiscations, the district has reported group fights at some of its schools.
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“We are facing a crisis of student aggression and violence within our community and our schools,” Winston said in the letter. “Guns do not belong in schools or in the hands of children.”
To combat on-campus guns and violence, Winston said the district:
- has ordered clear backpacks for high schools students, with delivery scheduled for February.
- is working to implement a system so that middle and high school students can anonymously report guns or violent threats
- has doubled the number of random safety screenings in secondary schools.
Winston said the district remains in talks with screening equipment manufacturers regarding metal detectors and wands.
In addition, he said, CMS is engaged with city and county partners to share strategies such as the Alternative to Violence program, which uses “violence interrupters” to combat crime in the Beatties Ford Road/Lasalle Street corridor.
Earlier last week, Winston said, he met with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police chief, sheriff, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and city and county leaders “to discuss solutions to this growing crisis.”
“We are all concerned for the safety of our students and staff,” he said in the letter. “Addressing this crisis is a top priority, and we will communicate more actions as our team takes an all-hands-on-deck approach to new school safety measures and preventing further violence.”
A recent timeline
Monday, Dec. 6: Extra police were sent to Alexander Graham Middle School after officials got word that some students there had shared a “snapshot of a gun” and told fellow students to stay home “if they want to be safe.”
On Dec. 2: A gun was reported at Garinger High School. Officials sent parents a note saying, “A student entering campus was found to be in possession of a firearm. Law enforcement was on scene to ensure the safety and security of our students and staff.”
Dec. 1: Multiple fights broke out at Chambers High School, formerly Vance High School. As a result, the school was on a modified lockdown for part of the day.
Winston said CMS has implemented a workgroup to develop and prioritize short- and long-term solutions to address school safety.