CMS board delays discussing issues at Harding, parents upset

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CHARLOTTE, N.C.,None — The Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board decided to delay discussion of a new report that may offer insight into problems at schools that recently merged with others.

After a gun threat forced a lockdown at Harding University High School last month, outgoing board member Kaye McGarry requested to get a better idea of what's happening at schools that recently had a shift in student population because of last year's controversial school closures.

Harding took in students from its now-closed rival Waddell. Since then, it's been the scene of fights, threats and tension.

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"The kids are scared; the parents are scared," McGarry said. "This has become a security issue, and we needed current information on the status."

Colleague Joyce Waddell supported McGarry's request, but had a change of heart about releasing the report Wednesday night. Waddell said the delay would give staff members more time to collect information and newly elected board members a chance to get up to speed.

"It will give them an opportunity, if they want to, to look further into what's going on," Waddell said.

McGarry disagreed. "When three new members come in, you don't think they're not listening tonight, that they can't absorb this report? I think so," she said.

Incoming board member Ericka Ellis-Stewart thought so, too.

"I would have liked to see the report tonight," she said. "I think that it would not preclude us as new board members, in December, from having input on that and even putting together a plan of action."

Harding parent Sabrina Ross wasn't happy to hear about the board's decision. She believed putting off the discussion about the problems will only delay finding solutions.

"It should have been put out if they said they were going to do it," Ross said. "We're talking about the children's safety. That's most important."

The board has delayed discussing the report until Dec. 13, when the newly elected board members are sworn in.

Previous Stories: November 8, 2011: Harding graffiti taken as threat during tense year November 8, 2011: Students launch bank at Harding High School October 27, 2011: Harding High School steps up security after lock-down October 27, 2011: Harding spends day on lockdown after gun threat made