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CMS Says Harding Problems Have Been Dealt With

Campus security personel keep eye on students.

Campus security personnel keep eye on students. Harding University High School in Charlotte has had lots of unwanted attention this school year. A series of fights and a five-hour lock down have lured reporters to the school's gates. After barring them from a parent meeting this week, CMS invited reporters into the school Thursday for a press conference to talk about efforts to keep order there. Harding's population doubled this year with the closing of Waddell High. The student body now stands at about 1,800. Security officer Diana Mayfield spends her day trying to keep an eye on all those kids. She monitors cameras placed throughout the campus. "You can go right up on them and see what they're doing," says Mayfield. Security officer Diana Mayfield spends her day monitoring cameras placed throughout campus. Harding and other CMS high schools have long had these cameras, but not often someone to continually monitor them. After several fights at Harding, the school's principal asked Mayfield to do so. So far this year Harding has had what the district calls 42 incidents. That can include possession of a knife, disorderly conduct, and larceny. That's the second highest count in the district. This time last year there were only four incidents at Harding. Interim Superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh says a school-wide search during a lockdown a few weeks ago resulted in a quarter of those incidents. "We're not going to allow a few students to disrupt the learning of all the others at any school. This is not acceptable. So we've increased the number of campus security associates from 2 to 10," says Hattabaugh. Harding principal Alicisa Johnson says the media has overblown the problems at Harding. She says it's just a few troublemakers causing problems and they've been dealt with. "The bulk of our students are doing exactly what they need to do and that's being overlooked," says Johnson She says Harding is adapting from being a magnet school. It's now a neighborhood school with an International Baccalaureate program. She says the disruptions are to be expected. "I'm not surprised at all. We are a traditional high school. At a traditional high school you have things that will occur," says Johnson. The district invited three students to the press conference. Junior Aubrey Hall and the others all stood up for Harding. She says she feels safe there now. "It was pretty bad, like stuff happening every day. But they've gotten really strict, like security and new rules and stuff, so nothing really bad has been happening lately," says Hall. She says she just wants to focus on her classes now.