Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Clayton Wilcox says he plans to rethink using metal detectors at schools in light of Monday’s fatal shooting at Butler High School in Matthews.
Wilcox said at Tuesday night's school board meeting that after the fatal shooting of Bobby McKeithen, 16, by Jatwan Cuffie, also 16, all security plans will be reviewed.
While fencing at schools, electronic door locks and digital cameras were included in the original plans to spend the $9 million in additional funds approved by county commissioners for school security, metal detectors were not. Wilcox says he plans to review the entire security plan he presented to county commissioners earlier this month, including the possibility of installing metal detectors.
“We would be negligent if we didn’t talk about it and experiment with it a bit. That’s where we are today,” Wilcox said. “We need to review our processes, and will probably look at wands and random searches of kids and perhaps only clear backpacks.”
Wilcox says 17 guns were brought onto school property two years ago, but that he felt security measures were working because the guns were confiscated without being fired. He says the Butler shooting has shown that there are weaknesses in the existing security plan.
“One of the things that we know now is that we have some access control issues that we didn’t know before, so we will review those things. We also know that our investment in high-end technology, though timely, is after action. It doesn’t stop the intruder from coming in,” Wilcox said.
School board members held a moment of silence for both students involved in the shooting and their families. Luke Drago, a student at Ardrey Kell High School, spoke angrily about the Butler tragedy and told board members that he came to beg for his life.
“Members of the board, we have no metal detectors, we have no panic buttons, we are sitting ducks,” Drago said. “And there is nothing in my school from preventing a student or stranger from walking in and the same events from yesterday from occurring again. Moments of silence do not bring back dead kids. So yeah, I’m angry, and you should be too.”
Drago complained of too many unlocked doors in schools in areas where large numbers of students congregate before school and during meals. Wilcox says that’s why they have teachers assigned to those areas and police at all high schools, but he agreed that more needs to be done.
Some parents, including McKeithen's mother, complained that district officials were slow in providing them with information about the shooting. Wilcox says communication should have been better between school officials and parents. He also acknowledges that there was confusion during the lockdown and that the dismissal was less than orderly but worked.
“I can’t find fault with what our team and the Matthews police did. It was just a situation no one was really fully prepared for in terms of managing a large crowd that was really anxious,” Wilcox said.
Wilcox did not provide any updates on what started the fight between the two students. He says that while he’s meeting with police investigators, there is still a lot they don’t know.