• Middle school principal says safety program makes difference

    By: Tenikka Smith


    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - While Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools waits to find out how much money it will have for safety upgrades for the upcoming school year, one northeast Charlotte middle school has spent the last two months implementing a pilot security program paid for with funds from the previous budget.

    Police and staff tell Channel 9 it's already making a difference in safety.

    You cannot get through the front doors of James Martin Middle School without being buzzed in by school staff.

    The secure door is just one element of a pilot security program launched at the school in March.

    Principal Jeremy Batchelor's first day on the job was the Monday after the Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut.

    "Having three children of my own, I was floored and hurt by all that and I knew that we had to do some things to make sure our parents and our students felt safe," Batchelor said.

    The pilot program also includes an electronic ID badge system. Staff and students are required to wear a badge at all times while on school property.

    Surveillance cameras have also been installed at the school.

    "We can see what's going on and we can see if there are patterns of students milling around in the hallways not moving directly to class," Batchelor said.

    Batchelor said his staff has already made adjustments to students' schedules and how they move throughout the buildings.

    Eighth-grader Karl Soliman said the cameras make students think twice about their behavior.

    "If you think someone is going to see you doing something bad then you're probably not going to do it," he said.

    CMPD said between March 15 and May 3, arrests and incidents at the school are both down more than 50 percent compared to the same time last year.

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