How CMS plans to stem the tide of guns in schools

How CMS plans to stem the tide of guns in schools
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Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will begin random screenings on high school campuses in an attempt to catch guns before they make it into the school.

Starting after winter break, the district plans to use metal-detecting wands to check students for weapons as they move through campus, Superintendent Clayton Wilcox announced Friday.

The new plan comes two weeks after a Butler High student was shot and killed by a classmate in the hallway. Since then,  guns have been found at East Mecklenburg, Olympic, Hopewell and Garinger high schools.

Here’s what you need to know.

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How will CMS screen students for weapons?

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will visit the district’s 27 high school campuses at random intervals, sending teams of two to three dozen people. They’ll pick a specific part of campus and wand students as they come through.

Initially, CMS will use school security employees to do the wanding. On standby will be Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers to confiscate any weapons found. Eventually, the school could contract with a company like Show Pros, which does similar work around sports and entertainment events.

The idea is that each campus will get wanded several times per month.

Will it just be high schools?

At first, yes. Wilcox expects the program to soon expand to middle schools, as well.

Why not use metal detectors?

Metal detectors are commonly used in urban school districts across the country, but they are not being considered in Charlotte.

Wilcox said that having hundreds or even thousands of students lining up to pass through a limited number of metal detectors could pose problems. It’s easier to have larger numbers of hand-held wands.

What else will CMS do?

Here’s what else CMS will implement by the end of the current school year:

  • Random backpack and bag searches
  • “Panic cards” like a panic button that can attach to teacher and staff ID badges
  • Electronic keyless entry systems on every door
  • More monitoring of entrances to athletic events
  • Cameras for outdoor areas on campus, including mobile classrooms
  • More social media monitoring to identify threats

What else is CMS considering?

Wilcox said the district will likely pilot a program to provide students with clear plastic backpacks. It’s unclear whether the cost would be feasible.

CMS will also be lobbying Mecklenburg County to provide more money for guidance counselors.

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