Student caught with a gun at CMS school, despite district’s random searches

CMS talks about random gun searches after a CMS student was shot

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools superintendent Clayton Wilcox says the school system will be conducting random searches.
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Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools superintendent Clayton Wilcox says the school system will be conducting random searches.

A student was caught with a gun at South Mecklenburg High on Tuesday - less than three weeks after Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools conducted a random gun screening at the school.

No one was injured and no threats were made, according to a message sent to families by Principal Maureen Furr.

CMS began random gun screenings in late January, in the wake of a fatal shooting at Butler High on Oct. 29. The first round included searching students in four classrooms at eight randomly-chosen high schools. The search turned up no guns or weapons beyond a can of pepper spray, according to CMS.

Students in four South Mecklenburg classrooms were searched Feb. 1.

Superintendent Clayton Wilcox has said repeatedly that he hopes the screenings will act as a deterrent to students who might bring a firearm.

Last week, district officials drew the names of 10 more schools from a pool of 23 high schools. That round of screenings, which is expected to include searches of an entire building and/or campus, has not yet begun.

CMS routinely leads the state in the number of guns confiscated in schools, but until this school year, those guns were generally confiscated without incident. The Butler shooting happened outside the school cafeteria just before the morning bell. It left one student dead and another charged with his murder.

In the ensuing three weeks, guns turned up at four other high schools scattered around the county. Wilcox reluctantly launched the random searches amid calls to take action to make schools safer. He and his staff have yet to figure out the logistics of school-wide searches on campuses with large numbers of students, between 1,500 to 3,500.

South Mecklenburg is one of the state’s biggest schools at approximately 3,100 students.

Few details were immediately available about Tuesday’s incident. CMS Police Chief Lisa Mangum declined to answer questions from the Charlotte Observer, saying the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is still investigating. A copy of Furr’s message provided to the Observer said only that “a firearm was located in possession of a student today on our campus and was immediately turned over to the school resource officer.”

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Ann Doss Helms has covered education for the Observer since 2002, long enough to watch a generation of kids go from preK to college. She is a repeat winner of the North Carolina Press Association’s education reporting award.