CMS superintendent addresses ‘crisis of student violence,’ orders clear backpacks for high schools

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is facing a crisis of student violence. That’s the message from school leaders after yet another incident at a local high school.

Officials say one person was detained after an incident involving pepper spray Friday at Harding University High School. After an uptick in fights and guns on campus, school leaders released new details on what they plan to do to keep students safe.

A message was sent to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools parents on Friday, saying clear backpacks have been ordered for high schools in the area. Those bags aren’t set to get here until February 2022.

School leaders stress random safety screenings have been doubled and that a team is working on putting a tool in place for students to make anonymous reports.

School officials said while they’ve spoken with manufacturers about metal detectors and wands, they’re still working on the next steps. Below is the full message sent out to CMS families on Friday:

“Hello CMS Families, 

This is Superintendent Earnest Winston. The news of the tragic shooting this week in a Michigan school is disturbing and hits close to home as we see increased fights in schools and more guns on our campuses. This is unacceptable. We are facing a crisis of student aggression and violence within our community and our schools. Guns do not belong in schools or in the hands of children.

Yesterday, I met with the district attorney, Charlotte-Mecklenburg chief of police, sheriff, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, district court judges and city and county leaders to discuss solutions to this growing crisis.   

Recently, I directed a workgroup to evaluate all possible options for our schools and develop and prioritize short- and long-term solutions. We have ordered clear backpacks for high schools and have been told that delivery is delayed until February. We have dedicated a team to implement a tool for middle and high school students to report anonymously. We have doubled the number of random safety screenings in our secondary schools.

We have spoken with screening equipment manufacturers regarding metal detectors and wands to determine next steps. We have been engaged with city and county partners to share strategies like the Alternative to Violence program that reach out into the community. There is more work to do.

We are all concerned for the safety of our students and staff. 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.”

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