CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Leaders randomly selected eight Charlotte-Mecklenburg high schools to undergo security screenings as part of the district's new safety plan Monday.
Two more high schools were screened Thursday as part of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools' new, bold security initiative.
No guns or knives were found at West Mecklenburg High School, but a container of nonlethal pepper spray was confiscated by school staff.
CMS student code of conduct prohibits any object or substance that will potentially cause harm, irritation or bodily injury.
The pepper spray was found during the random classroom version of the screenings, which was a safety procedure district officials said they were going to conduct.
District officials said they could screen an entire school when students walk in the building in the morning or select a classroom at random and screen all students inside.
Officials screened West Mecklenburg and Independence high schools Thursday morning. On Wednesday, Harding University and Mallard Creek high schools were screened, and the day before were Garinger and Rocky River high schools.
“I also saw a screening team that respected the dignity of all of the students they approached,” CMS Superintendent Clayton Wilcox said. “They were gracious even though it was very early in the morning.”
Officials said no weapons were found at any of the schools during the hourlong screenings and the classrooms screened within each school were selected by random drawing.
The district announced plans to randomly screen schools after several guns were found on CMS campuses and a student was shot and killed at Butler High School in Matthews last year.
“It's for your safety. It's for your safety,” parent Darrell Jenkins said.
The new security plan will test three different models. It will try screening students as they walk in, screening all of the students in a selected building and screening all students in randomly selected classrooms.
The district will use portable metal detectors, no-touch wanding and bag checks to search students.
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Eight of the district's 19 schools were selected on Monday. The names of the schools were placed in individual envelopes and randomly drawn by faith leaders.
CMS officials said parents of students at the schools will be notified when a screening begins and ends.
Channel 9 spoke with parents Tuesday morning who said they were happy about the searches.
“I’m all for it. These kids today are crazy. I would rather my child be safe and protected where he is than to wonder,” one parent, who didn’t want to be identified, said. “I’d rather them do a random search then have to identify her body. I’m all for that.”
Officials said no individual students will be selected randomly.
“We’re doing everything we can to help ensure safety screenings do deter anyone from bringing weapons to school and that they’re also conducted in a respectful manner,” said CMS Chief Communications Officer Tracy Russ.
During a screening, the school will be put on lockdown and no students will be able to leave until the lockdown is lifted.
A spokesperson for the district told Channel 9 that CMS isn’t worried about the screenings impacting class time because they’re designing a way to quickly move students through the security checks.
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