‘Our kids’ lives are on the line:’ Townhall held to discuss CMS school safety, solutions
There have been fights, lockdowns and guns found on campuses. On Wednesday night, parents and school leader held a town hall to discuss the next steps
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) – Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools officials held a town hall Wednesday night to discuss the current violence happening in schools.
Over the past three months, WBTV has talked about violence on school grounds in Charlotte.
There have been fights, lockdowns and guns found on campuses. On Wednesday night, parents came together to help find a solution.
LaTasha Earl’s son is a senior at Hopewell. She says while tonight provided a space to discuss concerns it’s a slow approach to an urgent problem.
“Our kids’ lives are on the line, staff lives are on the line and we need action. Get out from behind your desk and do something,” Earl said.
Earl and dozens of other Hopewell High School parents, staff, students, and community members attended Wednesday’s town hall sharing their concerns, suggestions, and questions.
CMS has several on-campus safety procedures including lockdown procedures, campus security associates, school resource officers, security screenings which include K9s and metal detectors, and security cameras.
Off-campus security procedures include bus cameras, partnership with Huntersville Police, support from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, and the Cornelius Police Department.
Parents WBTV spoke with said they’re alarmed. Fifteen guns have been found on multiple CMS campuses over the last three months.
“I would just like to know in addition to the parents volunteering what the school is going to do to provide a more safe environment and some more details. I think that would suffice,” said Hopewell parent Leonard Hilliard.
The town hall included comments from District One Board Member Rhonda Cheek, Superintendent Earnest Winston, the North West Learning Community Superintendent, Hopewell High School principal and assistant principals.
Superintendent Earnest Winston says school district staff are gathering feedback from high school principals, learning community superintendents, school employees, and students.
“We are committed to doing everything we can to help keep our schools safe,” Winston said.
Cheek says Wednesday’s town hall will be the start of a series of town halls including other high schools. She says there needs to be a multifaceted approach to safety and stopping violence at the root.
“One single thing is not going to fix this it’s got to be a multidisciplinary, multi-community, multiple layers, multiple things, it’s going to take a village to turn this around,” Cheek said.
When asked about clear backpacks Cheek says all of the principals in her district are interested but, but supply chain issues are a hang-up in getting all of the students their own backpack.
Earl is pushing CMS to add more school resource officers and campus security associates along with community mentorship opportunities and programs focused on conflict resolution and coping techniques.
“We need to get more CSA’s trained in the school, we need to implement programs to teach kids how to problem solve.”
Students also spoke at Wednesday’s town hall.
Hopewell senior Luke Settlemeyer encouraged community organizations and mentors to lend a helping hand.
“In order to conquer this violence, community support and engagement is crucial,” Settlemeyer said.
Eleventh-grader Logan Henderson says Hopewell High School’s accolades, accomplishments, and current programs should not be tarnished by recent incidents.
“This school has worked hard to build the name that we have today and we will not be defined by a few small incidents at our school,” Henderson said.
Earlier this week, the parent-based volunteer program 56 Titan dads and Mom’s on a Mission started in Hopewell High School. It’s a pilot program to bring more eyes and ears into the school by having parents monitor classrooms, hallways, and bathrooms during the day.
Hopewell principal Tracey Pickard says until solutions are implemented, parental help continues to be needed.
“It’s a thin line in how much we can push parents but we do take pride in having those hard conversations,” Pickard said.
Overall Wednesday, parents say every school needs this same attention, not just Hopewell.
“It’s not a Hopewell issue it’s CMS, and something needs to be done,” Earl said.
At previous CMS school board meetings, parents have brought up other ideas like clear backpacks, metal detectors and parent support groups.
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