MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. — The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district announced earlier this month a major security upgrade that it spent more than $1 million on doesn’t work.
Wednesday, county leaders called a special meeting to discuss how to move forward.
Superintendent Earnest Winston said if the system is not fixed by Feb. 10, he plans to end the relationship with the company and will try to get the money back.
The problem will be fixed, he said.
"You’ve given the company a deadline and an expectation,” At-Large commissioner Pat Cotham said Wednesday. “What if they don’t meet it? Do you have hope to get your money back?"
"If the company does not meet the Feb. 10 deadline, it’s our expectation that we will go in a different direction, and we will exercise a provision that will allow us to begin to recoup the fund that have already been paid for the project,” Winston said.
Winston said on Jan. 10 the district has been doing intense testing of the system and wanted to be transparent about what’s going on.
“At school, we found that the system didn’t perform as promised and it did not perform consistently. In other words, we had a system that did not work well all of the time and didn’t work at all some of the time,” said Winston.
Winston added that: "Everything that occurred was legal and followed board policy in terms of who’s at fault or who to hold accountable. What I want to convey is, as you alluded to, I inherited this particular situation. My job is to bring a resolution to the matter.”
The alert is triggered using a panic card that trained staff members have.
It sends out school-wide alerts lighting up a button in different colors associated with the type of emergency, whether it is medical, weather or a safety threat.
CMS has spent $1.3 million on the crisis alert system, so far.
“We have a substantial investment in it, more than $1 million with more than another half-million (dollars) expected by the vendor,” Winston said earlier this month. “Moreover, this system was installed with funds from our partners at the county.”
Winston said the vendor was selected before he became superintendent, and he was not part of the decision-making process.
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