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Body scanners installed at Hopewell High School as CMS rolls out test program

Hopewell High was one of the first CMS schools to receive new body scanners that district leaders believe will reduce on-campus violence.

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. — Students at Hopewell High School in Huntersville spent their first day going through newly installed body scanners Wednesday morning, as Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools seeks solutions for violence on its campuses

Hopewell is one of seven schools piloting the scanners to test how CMS handles them before they're rolled out at every high school in the district. The decision to install the scanners came after a record number of guns were found on CMS campuses this year.

CMS took a hit earlier this week when it had to half the rollout of clear backpacks after they discovered at the last minute that multiple bags that sat in a warehouse had a Proposition 65 label about possible cancer-causing materials in them. The body scanners now join the anonymous reporting app that was introduced earlier this year as new tools to make schools safer. 

According to a CMS purchase order, $1.6 million was spent on equipment needed for the body scanners in all seven schools. Students said the scanners caused a significant slowdown at the start of the day Wednesday. CMS did not respond to a WCNC Charlotte request to see the scanners installed at Hopewell High School.

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Students said it typically takes about 10 minutes to get to class before the bell rings. One student said it was around 20 minutes Wednesday. 

"When we first got there, the line was super long just to get into the school because they had every door locked and blocked off," Zauryn Moore said. "Now you have to go through one door in and out."

The district said it chose the schools testing the scanners based on the number of reported "serious safety incidents" this school year. Hopewell High is among them. 

"Our goal is for them to have the best academic experience and to soar academically and to have great outcomes, but be safe," CMS Board Member Rhonda Cheek said. "We've had situations this year where kids were not safe. When there's guns falling down somebody's pants, that is not a safe experience."

Moore's mother said she was hesitant at first about the scanners. 

"I was a little concerned," Felicia Moore said. "Is this gonna work or not? Then after doing some research, which we have done, I think that it is a good thing."

Board members say it's one layer of protection that they believe isn't overly intrusive, comparing the experience to that of going to a Panthers game.

"We were given a chance to see what the body scanners will do and look like," Lenora Shipp, an at-large member of the board, said. "We actually went out to Bank of America Stadium."

Moore said she feels safer going into the school now. 

"If nothing goes off, I'm fine," she said. "But if something goes off, I feel like what's wrong and did I do wrong? Do they think I have something on me? Am I in trouble? I just don't like that part of it."

CMS says the other six schools in the pilot program will have scanners installed by the end of the week. 

Contact Shamarria Morrison at smorrison@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

WCNC Charlotte is committed to reporting on the issues facing the communities we serve. We tell the stories of people working to solve persistent social problems. We examine how problems can be solved or addressed to improve the quality of life and make a positive difference. WCNC Charlotte is seeking solutions for you. Send your tips or questions to newstips@wcnc.com.

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