CMS lobby guard system flags two sex offenders at school

by: Tenikka Smith Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - In a month's time, two sex offenders were flagged by the lobby guard system installed in the front office of every Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools.

Some schools have had the ID scanning system for years, but as of January this year it was expanded to all CMS schools.

Millions of dollars have been spent to upgrade security at CMS leaders told Channel 9 it's paying off.

Anyone who enters any CMS school must scan their ID through Lobby Guard.

The system scans information from the ID through the National Sex Offender Registry.

If you're in the clear, the system will print out a visitor's badge.  If not, the badge returns voided and the district is immediately alerted.

"There's lots of bells and whistles that go off when that voided sticker comes out of Lobby Guard,” CMS Police Chief Randy Hagler said.

Two sex offenders were recently picked up by the system.  Raymond Murray faces charges after he came into the office at Nation Ford Elementary two weeks ago. 

He was convicted of criminal sexual conduct against a 16-year-old girl in 1987.  He's been charged with violating terms of the registry twice since then.  Hagler said Murray claimed he came by the school to see his girlfriend's child.

In February CMS police said Carl Witherspoon was flagged at Oakdale Elementary. He was convicted of sexual battery in 2008.  He told police he was at the school to have lunch with a grandchild.

Witherspoon was not charged, but warned he cannot return to the school. 

Hagler said registered sex offenders who are parents or guardians must notify the school before their visit to make an appointment and are escorted around the entire time they are on school property.

Hagler said Lobby Guard helps to make sure no one slips through the cracks.

"We certainly think it's been a worthwhile expenditure," said Hagler.

Lekeisha Lynch is a parent in Cabarrus County schools but used Lobby Guard during a visit to Nation Ford Elementary today. 
"I think that it's great that the schools see the importance of having the system here to keep our children safe while they are here to learn,” she said.
 
Hagler said the district investigates about 200 hits a day from Lobby Guard.  He said most cases it's due to a typo and not because the person is on the sex offender registry.

Not all parents and guardians have state-issued IDs.  In those cases, school employees can use other documents to verify their identities and then Lobby Guard can create a more permanent ID they can use for future visits to the school.

The expansion of Lobby Guard into all CMS schools was paid for by $19 million the county gave to CMS last spring.

Other security upgrades include new door locks, cameras, and panic alarms.

Sex offender registry: