HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. — Parents and concerned community members met in Huntersville Wednesday night to seek solutions to recent violence at Hopewell High School.
The town hall comes about two weeks after Huntersville police found two guns on campus following a fight between students. In total, six students were charged following the incident. Hopewell High School has also been linked to the deadly drive-by shooting of a 3-year-old boy in northwest Charlotte in September.
"It's disappointing," Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools board member Rhonda Cheek said. "It was nauseating."
The event at Lake Forest Church welcomed a packed house of parents, students, and teachers. Each speaker was given a brief time to voice their concerns and to propose solutions for school leaders.
It's one of the first steps community leaders have taken to get more people involved in the process of preventing violence.
CMS has also taken a step in creating an internal task force to consider which safety changes may work best.
“All ideas are on the table," CMS Superintendent Earnest Winston said. "We are committed to doing everything we can.”
Some of the suggestions include requiring clear backpacks, installing metal detectors, increasing campus security, and more.
But as much as it's the school's responsibility to help keep students safe, some parents say the solution starts at home.
"Parents need to be parents and start parenting their students," one community member said.
Others said the problem is a small group of students many with a past of disciplinary issues that create an unsafe and disrupted learning environment.
"We want [a] policy that everybody is going to be able to go to school, everybody is going to get to learn and those who want to be on that boat to learn to stay on that boat," one parent said.
Hopewell High School has also started its own task force to get the student perspective about ways to improve safety, but also provide student wellness opportunities as well as a chance for more community engagement.
The most recent fight caused many parents to worry. One mom said she's considered pulling her kids out of school entirely. This school year alone, 15 guns have been found on Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools campuses, including the two at Hopewell.
"Sometimes I just feel like taking them all out of school and just home-schooling them," the mother said. "Because if it just gets worse like this, you never know what's going to happen afterward."
Other parents said the district needs to do more to keep their children safe at school. Cheek has proposed a program that would bring parents to campus in an effort to prevent violence.
"I want kids to feel safe to come to school, I want parents to feel safe that their kids are going to come home from school," Cheek said. "If parents are that engaged, the ones I'm hearing from are that fired up, I think that we can implement this."
Cheek also said she's tired of just talking about fixing it and wants to see action.
"I'm kind of tired of saying we're going to work on this and make this better," she said. "No, we need to have some actionable steps."
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