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CMS Makes Security Adjustments After Fatal Shooting At Butler High School

CMS Superintendent Clayton Wilcox with CMPD chief Kerr Putney.
Cole del Charco

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Clayton Wilcox unveiled new plans to make schools safer with extra security measures that will include the random wanding of students and backpack searches.

This comes more than two weeks after one student was shot and killed by another at Butler High School. Seven guns have been found on CMS campuses this year. Wilcox says he also plans to expand the security camera system to include all mobile classrooms and over the next several months he says 9,000 panic cards will be given to teachers and staff.

"CMS will not tolerate weapons that are brought onto our campuses," Wilcox said. "The district will enforce the maximum penalties within the code of conduct. And we will work with law enforcement to prosecute any young person who brings a gun onto our campuses. We will go further than that. If we can assess responsibility beyond student for that student [to] access that gun, we will join with local law enforcement and the district attorney to prosecute even further down the line.

"This community has got to get a grip on what’s going on with guns that are obtained either illegally or guns that are legally obtained but misplaced by an adult who didn’t care enough to lock it up,” Wilcox added.

Wilcox says CMS also plans to limit access to school entrances. These and other security changes add to those already in place, such as cameras, visitor screening, school resources officers, lockdown drills and survival training. Wilcox says the district will now post videos of those trainings online so parents can see what they entail. He also plans to better communicate with parents during these crisis situations with text messages.

Wilcox was asked whether these new measures would be enough to protect students. 

“The difficulty that I have as superintendent, quite honestly, is I want school to feel like a safe place," he said. "I don’t want kids to think that I think it’s such a lawless place that I have to run them through so many different traps that they are just looking over their shoulder all the time. Finding that balance is going to be really important to the board, and to me and, frankly, to the school level leadership.”

He said that there will be new social media monitoring and threat assessment and warning notifications. He’s also planning to add guidance counselors, social workers and psychologists. The superintendent also says he will need more money to do all of this, but he plans to move dollars around until more are allocated to the district

Wilcox added that metal detectors weren’t a feasible option because of the lines they would cause outside schools and the multiple building designs at CMS schools.