CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte-Mecklenburg School (CMS) Superintendent Dr. Clayton Wilcox says the district is working on procedures to prevent racial profiling of students when the district starts wanding them this January.
The concern mentioned at a recent school board meeting is African American and Hispanic students could get checked more often than other races.
“I am worried that in the pursuit of safety - the reactive heavy-handed security measures proposed by Superintendent Wilcox will ultimately racially profile and unfairly target black and brown students,” Speaker Jonathan Peeples said.
Peeples addressed the school board and superintendent. He asked the school district rethink implementing the plan to wand students. He compared the plan to New York’s Stop and Frisk policy. That policy gave police the authority to search a person where there was reasonable suspicion. It was revealed minorities were targeted more often.
“At best, this policy wastes time and resources due to its random nature with the hope of getting lucky by catching students with a weapon," Peeples said. "At worst, this policy violates the constitutional rights of minority students with security officers illegally detaining and frisking minority students in the schools over the coming years.”
Wilcox understands the fear and hopes the training and procedures that will be put in place will prevent singling students out. He hopes that will be the case but he admits there could be problems along the way.
“There is the possibility that you are going to have somebody say I was targeted,” Wilcox said. “And how do you react. We are thinking about that - we’re trying our best right now to make sure we design protocols where it doesn’t happen but we are always subject to human frailty.”
The superintendent says individually checking students hand-held detectors will start at schools where guns were found and then schools where there is a threat of a gun being on campus. Wilcox says all students will be checked and says profiling students is not the intent. He says the purpose of wanding students is to provide an extra layer of safety. This school year guns have been found and there was one fatal shooting inside a school.
“We’re very cognizant of the constitutional rights,” Wilcox said. “Our students don’t give up their rights when they come through the schools doors.”
Peeples told the school board that wanding students could cause problems and do more harm than good.
“Not only does this encounter demean, humiliate a student in front of their peers,” Peeples said, “it could also have detrimental impact on their academic performance.”
Wilcox says it was a tough decision to implement this safety plan, but he says the times we live in warrant action on the school district's part.
“There’s a piece of me that says I hope the threat of these searches,” Wilcox said. “Is enough to say to kids I am not going to risk this.”