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CMS superintendent says 'crisis of student aggression' requires new safety measures

Superintendent Earnest Winston talks about guns in schools at Tuesday's CMS school board meeting.
Superintendent Earnest Winston talks about guns in schools at the Nov. 9 CMS school board meeting.

Superintendent Earnest Winston sent a message to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools staff and families Friday saying the district is facing "a crisis of student aggression and violence within our community and our schools."

He said he has ordered clear book bags for all high schools students but they won't arrive until February. Winston said CMS is also doubling random safety screenings, working on an anonymous reporting tool for students to report guns and considering the use of metal detectors and wands in schools.

The message comes in a week where two more guns were confiscated at CMS schools, including one found Thursday morning at Garinger High. It's the 18th found at CMS this school year, with the halfway mark still weeks away. That’s more than the district encounters most school years, and is nearing the 2019 record of 22 guns in an entire year.

The killing of four teens in a school shooting in Michigan added to fears.

"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 campus," Winston wrote.

Winston met with police, prosecutors and other government officials Thursday to talk about youth violence.

Three weeks ago, Winston announced that the total had hit 15, and called that “unacceptable.” This week some board members said they were pushing Winston to address the matter quickly.

A Nov. 17 town hall meeting in Huntersville drew hundreds of concerned families to talk about safety concerns at Hopewell High.

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Ann Doss Helms has covered education in the Charlotte area for over 20 years, first at The Charlotte Observer and then at WFAE. Reach her at ahelms@wfae.org or 704-926-3859.
Lisa Worf traded the Midwest for Charlotte in 2006 to take a job at WFAE. She worked with public TV in Detroit and taught English in Austria before making her way to radio. Lisa graduated from University of Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in English.