Growing concerns over potential for targeting with CMS safety measure changes

Published: Jan. 3, 2019 at 7:16 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - It’s the first day back for many students across Charlotte in the new year. That means we’re getting closer to seeing more safety and security changes in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS). But questions are swirling for parents and advocates, about these new safety checks.

“But now does the safety of others outweigh that expectation of privacy for the individual students?," says Attorney Mark Jetton of Jetton & Meredith.

Jetton says with changing times, both in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and across the country, tightened security measures are now the new norm.

“The challenge is going to be taking some privacy rights away, how do you do that to where its not a discriminatory thing?" says Jetton.

After October’s deadly shooting at Butler high and guns found at multiple schools in the past year - the district decided it was time to enhance safety measures, including random wand screenings. That raises questions for some.

“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," said advocate, Johathan Peeples at previous school meetings.

In December CMS Superintendent Dr. Clayton Wilcox disagreed with Peeples perspective.

Wilcox says all students will be randomly checked.

(Student being wanded.)
(Student being wanded.)((Source: WBTV))

Attorney, Anastasia Cowan says randomizing wanding and backpack checks at the schools are necessary to avoid the potential for racial profiling or targeting..

“If you are targeting child that’s when it comes into you have to have that reasonable suspicion to search that child," says Cowan. “You have to be able to show that you have a reasonable suspicion that you’re going to find something on that child.”

Cowan says a parent does not have to consent to having their child wanded, since the student is on school property.

“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," says Wilcox.

“The balancing approach is going to be so important," says Jetton.

CMS officials previously said those changes would go into effect once students return from winter break but still have not given out an exact date.

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