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Despite fewer guns found in CMS schools in 2022, the community still wants more safety measures addressed

CMS board members voted unanimously to auction off all 46,000 clear backpacks it purchased in response to a rise in violence.

MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. — After Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools invested nearly half a million dollars into clear backpacks for high schoolers, they’ll now be auctioned off before the summer.

CMS board members voted unanimously Tuesday night to auction off all 46,000 clear backpacks it purchases in response to a rise in violence. 

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools set to auction 46,000 clear backpacks, documents show

The vote to auction off clear bags was buried in a consent agenda item that required no discussion and received little fanfare from those on the dais. 

Back in March, it was confirmed that CMS was "indefinitely" postponing the rollout of clear backpacks at pilot schools due to most backpacks containing a warning tag required by Proposition 65 for California residents. 

RELATED: What is Proposition 65 and how is it enforced?

"All we keep hearing about are guns, guns, guns, but CMS has not shown that there are many viable solutions for any potential threats," Kimberleigh Hogan-Lee, a CMS parent, said. "Yes, we're all aware of the clear backpack debacle." 

The focus of the night from audience members largely zeroed in on safety in schools. 

Sophia De La Jara, board member Jennifer De La Jara’s daughter and a CMS student, used the lectern to call for national and state changes on gun safety. 

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"I'm grateful that the school is trying to protect us," Sophia De La Jara said. "But this problem goes a way beyond our schools. And I don't think our teachers and principals should be the ones carrying the responsibility for protecting us.” 

Interim Superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh didn’t address the clear backpacks. 

He did talk about some successes CMS had with extra security protocols like the Say Something App and body scanners. 

CMS spent just under $5 million for 21 body scanners in the high schools. In May, CMS reported at least one gun was found prior to entering a school due to the body scanner. 

Hattabaugh reported that 1,142 tips were submitted to the Say Something Anonymous Reporting app for the school year. 

"We are currently working with local and state security experts to conduct reviews of schools, and there are certainly will be identified areas for potential improvements that will take both financial and human resources to address," Hattabaugh said. "Safety will require community support and resources." 

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Some board members made pleas to the community to prevent stolen guns from entering schools. 

"We are not issuing these weapons," Margaret Marshall, a CMS board member, said. "They are coming in from the community. We need community members to safely store any weapon you have." 

WCNC Charlotte previously reported a number of stolen guns were finding their way into multiple CMS schools. 

CMS said the clear bags will go to auction sometime in late June or early August. They will be sold in boxes of 12 or 24 only. The auction is open for anyone to bid. 

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


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