MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. — The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools district is keeping safety top of mind and working to make sure guns don’t get onto campus.
In the first half of last school year, a record number of guns were found in CMS schools.
After body scanners were put into high schools later in the year, fewer guns were found on campus district-wide.
Harding University High School is one of the schools that had multiple guns found on campus last year.
The school's new principal, Glenn Starnes II, who started at the end of last year is making safety one of his pillars of change at the school.
“We have a number of staff members who are out of the classroom, personnel who are able to monitor the perimeter of our campus in areas that we know are hotspots," Starnes said.
The Harding University High School campus is open and fairly large.
Starnes is taking this year as a fresh start to re-think how the school reduces this violence, as well as the role the administration plays in initiating safer schools.
“Safety is more than a body scanner; safety is more than a school resource officer," Starnes said. "Safety is ensuring that every single staff member trusts us with their precious child."
In the lead-up to school starting, you can find Starnes checking on his staff.
It’s a modeled behavior of how he wants adults on campus to treat students.
He wants them to have a trusted adult.
"Individuals that the student has said this is someone who I have connected with that trust, or on the flip end," Starnes said.
CMPD says its school resource officers are working on community accountability to reduce guns on campus.
"Please do not keep your firearms in your vehicles," CMPD Sgt. Crystal Fletcher said at a press briefing Tuesday. "That just presents an opportunity for the firearm to be stolen and to end up in the wrong hands."
Starnes jokes he has an old-school way of keeping kids safe.
He believes in the mantra, "It takes a village."
There are a few off-campus sites like a grocery store and fast food place students have been known to skip school at.
Starnes has a line of communication with the managers at the establishments and they give him a call if they see his students.
Starnes is looking for a complete culture shift on safety and wants parents to feel and see it.
"They see team members actively present on our campus so that they can say, 'Oh, you know what, that person got them, that person got them,'" Starnes said.
The school, as Starnes sees it, is handling precious cargo.