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Charlotte Observer: Myers Park High Absences Soared After Gang Talk On Social Media

Almost 700 students, or one-fourth of the student body, stayed home from Myers Park High on Friday when talk of gang threats were relayed by social media, according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools numbers released Tuesday. Myers Park is among five high schools where extra police have been stationed since a Vance High student was shot to death on March 17. The shooting happened on a Saturday night away from any school, but CMS police and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department became concerned about school violence because of threats being tweeted and posted on Facebook pages. They have not given specifics about those threats, but said schools got extra scrutiny if they were mentioned in threats and/or had students involved in making them. Police and CMS leaders held a news conference Friday, after a vigil for slain student John Darrell Kempson Jr. drew hundreds on Thursday night and people began talking about staying home from school. The attendance report released Tuesday shows 683 absences at Myers Park, which has about 2,700 students. That was far higher than any other CMS high school that day and almost three times the normal absence rate for Myers Park this month. West Charlotte (307 absences), West Mecklenburg (208) and Vance (213) topped 200 absences on Friday, well above the normal levels for each school. Those schools have also had strong police presence since the shooting because of threats. Harding, the fifth school being watched for violence, was slightly above normal with 197 absences Friday.