Education

7 guns in CMS last school year; 4 were at West Charlotte High

A new state report logs 86 guns in North Carolina public schools last year, including seven in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.
A new state report logs 86 guns in North Carolina public schools last year, including seven in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. AP

Note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly listed Independence High as a school reporting a gun.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools found seven guns in four high schools last year, up from a total of three the year before, according to a state report released Thursday.

Four of those guns were at West Charlotte High, with one each at Butler, Hopewell and South Mecklenburg.

Charlotte Learning Academy, a small middle-high charter school, also reported one firearm, a category that includes real guns and “powerful explosives” but not BB or pellet guns.

CMS officials declined to discuss details of the incidents Wednesday, saying only that guns at school reflect violence in surrounding neighborhoods.

“Children feel unsafe in their neighborhoods,” spokeswoman Renee McCoy said. “If there’s a problem in the neighborhood, some rift or beef, that tends to show up at school.”

The statewide crime and violence tally, which includes all district and charter schools, logged 86 firearms. Only one district, the smaller Durham County Schools, reported more firearms than CMS, with eight.

Wake, the state’s largest district (CMS is second), reported three.

Lower-level weapons, such as knives or pellet guns, are far more common, with 3,052 reported statewide and 315 in CMS.

The latest CMS gun tally is about average for the past seven years, when the district has logged three to 10 guns a year. From 2003 to 2007, however, the district’s annual gun count ranged from 17 to 28.

West Charlotte High has been the focus of intensive efforts to improve academic performance and school climate. It is in the fourth year of Project LIFT, a five-year effort funded with more than $50 million in donations that is designed to boost West Charlotte and its eight feeder schools to levels comparable with the district’s best schools.

One of the challenges, Project LIFT leaders reported recently, is that many of the most successful middle school students opt out of West Charlotte, seeking magnet or charter schools.

Ann Doss Helms: 704-358-5033, @anndosshelms

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