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CMS reveals roughly 65,000 students are considered 'at risk'. Less than 13,000 showed up for Camp CMS in its first week

Staff says they are brainstorming creative ways to encourage parents to bring their kids.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The next school year at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools could prove to be a challenging one.

Roughly 21,000 students who the district has determined as "at-risk" of failing enrolled in Camp CMS, but less than 13,000 showed up for at least one day in its first week. 

The camp is essentially set up as a summer school - and it's optional. 

“When you say Camp CMS and then a 12-year-old finds out it's actually school, I can see maybe I'd get bummed about it too and rather go to basketball camp," said CMS board member Rhonda Cheek.

Breana Fowler, a student advisor at CMS, said she’s heard the students’ complaints.

"Some students were emailing me that they only had 15 minutes to go outside and 10 minutes to eat," Fowler said.

Dr. Tangela Williams with CMS revealed the “camp” includes 6 hours and 15 minutes of education and 45 minutes for other activities.

"Within that 45-minute span the children would eat lunch and spend some time outside for the physical activity,” Williams said.

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Charlotte NAACP President Corine Mack said she isn't surprised the children aren't enthused.

"We’re talking about children who prior to COVID would want to spend their summer enjoying themselves," Mack said. "Now, we’re talking about children who’ve gone through a year of trauma.”

Thousands of children need the extra help, though, as CMS revealed before the end of the school year the district identified roughly 65,000 students who failed at least one core class.

At the meeting, CMS board member Sean Strain noted an instance where a middle schooler failed all six core classes and was still promoted to the next grade.

"This particular student had 105 unexcused absences," Strain said

Mack believes that is unacceptable.

"To think a child fails 6 classes out of 9 classes and you pass them," Mack said, "If that’s what they’re doing, these children are destined to fail.”

Mack said if CMS doesn’t improve education, the students won't just fail now but fail in the future.

"The likelihood is they would have the greater chances of being caught up in the criminal justice system, so that is a real concern,” Mack said.

“For the remainder of this week in particular we are reaching out to the students who have not yet shown up," Williams said.

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Williams said they’ve already made phone calls, home visits, and sent emails to find out from families why students are not coming. 

"So far, some of the families reported to us that their students have enrolled in different programs for the summer or their child is not in Charlotte for the summer," Williams said. "Some of our families have reported that they no longer feel their student needed the academic support.”

Christine Pejot with CMS said despite thousands of students not showing up, 20 schools were still lacking staffing by the end of the first week.

"We have to transition to taking a hard look at our average daily attendance to see where we might be able to leverage and potentially reassign staff based on what is in the best interest of students," Pejot said.

CMS staff said they are now considering parent incentives or other creative ideas to encourage parents to bring their kids. 

Frank Barnes with CMS said they will assess students to determine their educational improvement at the midway point of the summer camp, the week of July 4th.

Contact Lana Harris at lharris@wcnc.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and on Instagram. 

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