Alternative high school in west Charlotte struggling with safety concerns, teachers say

Charlotte — Turning Point Academy in west Charlotte is an alternative school for students who’ve violated the code of conduct for students in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

The goal is to redirect students’ behavior, putting them on a better path to get their education.

But teachers at the school on Moores Chapel Road told Channel 9′s Jonathan Lowe the lack of structure at the school has led to at least three large fights here in just a week.

A video Channel 9 received moments after on of those fights at Turning Point Academy showed students yelling and ignoring staff.

We were outside the school on Tuesday when a large number of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department officers responded.

“All the kids was out, and they could not be contained, I could show you security not knowing what to do,” said Nikia Nivens a teacher at Turning Point. “Then somebody’s pulling mace out they bra.”

Another video appears to show a ransacked classroom with tape strung out and graffiti on walls.

“They barricaded the room so that the teacher that’s on the other side can’t get through,” Nivens said.

She’s taught at the academy for six years, but after only nine days in the new school year, she said staff are fearing for their safety.

“I walked out on Wednesday, there were staff members that walked out on Thursday,” Nivens said.

Channel 9 asked CMS for an interview with the principal or area superintendent, but received a written statement instead.

In it, CMS confirmed three fights have required police intervention at the school and a domestic situation in front of the school earlier this week ended with an arrest.

The district said law enforcement and behavior modification technicians are on campus at all times. Students are also searched daily and must pass through weapons detectors as part of the school’s security measures.

“They know that this is school, but they run it, they control it, it’s supposed to be a redirection place, but we’re not equip to handle what we are receiving,” Nivens told Channel 9.

Teachers who contacted us said there are more students this year at Turning Point and gang activity has also increased.

Niven says she feels like the students know they have the staff outnumbered. The teachers say they’re frustrated by administration’s response.

“Deflecting, not acknowledging our concerns, at all,” she said. “We need more staff and structure.”

Nivens says this year she hasn’t seen anything resembling Turning Point’s mission of turning kids around.

“I’m talking to protect them too,” she said. “There are some of us that care enough about them that come there and empower them, I’ve done that to the best of my ability.”

In a statement, CMS said Turning Point is an alternative school for students who have violated the CMS Student Code of Conduct.

There is law enforcement, as well as behavior modification technicians, on campus at all times, according to CMS. In addition, the school currently has handheld scanner and Evolv scanners are on the way. The school district says they conduct student searches daily. When necessary, additional law enforcement resources are quickly available.

(WATCH BELOW: As CMS expands weapon detectors, history shows implementation won’t be without hiccups)

Jonathan Lowe

Jonathan Lowe, wsoctv.com

Jonathan is a reporter for WSOC-TV.

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