CMS Launches Safety Screenings To Check High Schoolers For Weapons
In an effort to bolster school security measures, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has now launched safety screenings in the district’s 19 high schools.
“Our goals for safety screenings are one, to keep weapons out of schools and two, to minimize classroom disruptions and distractions from teaching and learning during screenings as much as possible,” CMS spokesman Tracy Russ said at a news conference Monday afternoon.
Russ said for each screening, school names will be drawn at random in groups of eight. The first group was drawn Monday. Those schools will then be screened one of three ways: either by wanding, portable metal detectors or bag searches. According to Russ, the screenings will be conducted by school staff, who will be trained and advised by law enforcement.
He said parents will be notified anytime a screening is conducted and when it’s completed. The schools will be on lockdown during the screening process.
Russ says weapons are the focus of the screenings, but that CMS officials “cannot ignore things that [they] find.”
“But we want to make sure that everyone knows that this is not a search to find anything and everything,” he said. “This is a search to deter weapons from being brought onto school campuses.”
Russ did not say exactly when the first screening will take place but said parents and students should expect them to start soon.
The bolstered security measures follow a fatal incident last October when a 16-year-old shot and killed another student in the hallways of Butler High School in Matthews. The shooting shook the school community, spurring the district to seek new measures to make sure weapons stayed off school campuses.
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In addition to the new screenings, Russ said the district has enhanced other security measures — including expanded video surveillance, fortified locks and additional digital technology to monitor school entrances.
Russ said CMS is also looking into hiring additional personnel, like a crisis response coordinator who will streamline communication between the district and parents when a crisis occurs. The district, Russ said, is also planning to ask for more resources to hire professionals to “increase mental health support” at CMS schools.