CMS slates 2 schools to test clear backpacks; district updates its security measures

MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. — Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is updating security measures across the district.

In a meeting on March 8, school officials announced clear backpacks are on their way to two schools to test how they work. Hopewell High School and Cochrane Collegiate Academy will be those first schools.

Superintendent Earnest Winston hopes the backpacks will make schools safer. Video captured a fight at Hopewell in November and showed a gun sliding across the floor inside the school. As of March 2, Channel 9′s records show so far, 26 guns have been found at CMS schools this year.

In February, Channel 9 reported thousands of clear backpacks the district ordered were sitting in a warehouse.

Superintendent Winston said he’s been getting feedback from students about the transition.

“We will be deploying the backpacks to every high school so that students have an opportunity to experience what the backpacks look and feel like,” Winston said.

He said the district hopes to roll out the rest of the clear backpacks sometime this spring.

Natasha Tate has a son in 11th grade at Hopewell.

“In a way, it’s kind of invading privacy but on the other hand, you’ve got kids that breaking the rules, bringing weapons for whatever reason,” she said. “As long as they are doing everything they can to keep our kids safe, that’s all I really care about.”

During the meeting, the district also finalized the contract for weapon detectors at some high schools. Officials are just waiting on signatures and the district says after the paperwork is signed, the scanners should be delivered within about 30 days.

In an update on March 15, CMS said all inspections are done at the high schools slated to get weapon detectors, and those detectors will be in schools as early as April.

The first seven schools to get weapon detectors are:

  • Hopewell High School
  • Mallard Creek High School
  • Garinger High School
  • Harding University High School
  • West Charlotte High School
  • North Mecklenburg High School
  • Julius Chambers High School

Superintendent Winston announced on March 8 the district didn’t get the American Recovery Plan money approved for the weapon detectors, so the district will use money from things like cell tower leases and auctions.

In addition to the weapon detectors, the district is looking to hire 53 campus security associates.

Before the detectors, the district has been doing random safety screenings. This year, there have been 60 of those so far as of March 9. The district hasn’t found any firearms but found vapes, tasers, over the counter prescription medications and pepper spray on students.

Additionally, CMS launched the See Something, Say Something app in January as a way to get students to report trouble. Since it launched, Winston said they’ve gotten 500 tips from middle and high school students, as of March 9.

(WATCH BELOW: 9 Investigates: Another parent says CMS bus driver swabbed kids’ cheeks for money)

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