CMS explains why principal had a bat while students were fighting

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte Mecklenburg School System (CMS) says things were calm 24 hours after seven students were arrested and a Charlotte high school was put on lockdown after "multiple fights" occurred on campus.

West Mecklenburg High School administrators were busy Thursday bringing peace to the school. WBTV obtained video of one of the fights. It shows the school principal with a bat in his hand as he confronted the disruptive students.

In the video, you can hear one of the students yell, "He has a bat." CMS is responding to the principal and his bat.

CMS didn't call it a bat but referred to it as an object the principal was carrying. The district responded to the reason why the principal was carrying it during a disruptive time.

"West Mecklenburg High School administrators would like to solicit the support of parents to encourage students to leave inappropriate items at home," Executive Director of Communications Renee McCoy said. "The object that you observed a school administrator holding during yesterday's incident was removed from a student by school leadership during the disturbance."

"There is no policy that calls for staff to leave the scene of an incident for the purpose of storing items away, which are taken from students involved in a disturbance.  This level of decision making is at the discretion of school leadership, in the interest of restoring calm to any situation, as an immediate priority."

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The fights happened around 12:45 p.m. Thursday at West Mecklenburg High School. School resource officers called for backup as the fights broke out. CMS said in a statement that arrests were made, but did not give further details.

Students say the fights were possibly gang-related, but police have not mentioned what caused the fights.  The investigation continues.

Charlotte police said a total of six students were arrested and charged with public affray. A seventh student, who police say pushed an officer assisting with the lockdown process, was charged with assault on a government official.

Officials said one student also suffered minor injuries when a window was smashed during one of the fights.

CMS will also review surveillance footage from school cameras to determine if other students need to be punished. Soon after the arrests, the school district issued this statement:

"CMS is committed to a safe learning environment at all of its campuses and the district takes any incident that threatens the safety and well-being of students and staff or disrupts the learning environment very seriously. Multiple fights occurred on the campus of West Mecklenburg High School today. Following CMS procedures, the West Mecklenburg campus was placed on lockdown and CMS PD and CMPD were called. Arrests were made by CMPD this afternoon and CMS PD and CMPD are investigating the incident. Students involved in today's incident will be disciplined according to the CMS student code of conduct. Extra security will be on hand tomorrow at West Mecklenburg, and CMS will respond further and as needed to protect the safety and well-being of students and staff."

Extra security was at the school on Friday.  CMS Superintendent Dr. Clayton Wilcox and area superintendent Dr. Curtis Carroll were at school Friday morning. No issues were reported.

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