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Two more guns at CMS schools bring year's total to a record 30

Students go through a walk-through metal detector installed at Hopewell High this spring.
Ann Doss Helms
Students go through a walk-through metal detector installed at Hopewell High this spring.

The discovery of two more guns on Charlotte-Mecklenburg school campuses this week brings the year’s total to 30. That’s far above the previous record of 22 in one academic year, set in 2018-19.

On Monday, a gun was confiscated from a student at Coulwood STEM Academy, a northwest Charlotte middle school. CMS has not provided details about that incident.

On Tuesday, a gun was taken from a student's book bag at Harding University High in west Charlotte.

"During morning arrival, a book bag was found on campus with (an) unloaded firearm by a school administrator," Principal Glenn Starnes said in a message sent to families Tuesday morning. "The book bag was discovered before it was taken through our Evolv scanners. Law enforcement responded immediately and an investigation is ongoing. The owner of the book bag has been identified."

No one was injured in either incident, CMS officials say.

Wednesday is the last school day for CMS students.

The surge in guns at schools has coincided with a rise in gun violence among teens and young adults in the Charlotte area — and the return to in-person classes after a year of disrupted learning.

After 23 guns were confiscated during the first semester, CMS launched a series of measures designed to deter students from bringing guns into schools. Those include installation of body scanners at high school entrances and the launch of Say Something, an anonymous system for reporting any actions that put students at risk. Last month, a student at Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology was caught with a loaded gun going through the scanners there.

The district spent almost $442,000 to order 46,000 clear book bags, planning to require all high school students to carry them. They've been sitting in a warehouse since February. CMS put that plan on hold after students and educators voiced skepticism and district officials discovered warning labels required by California law that indicated the bags could contain hazardous chemicals.

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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.