Leader of national nonprofit talks about school safety

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (WBTV) – After several incidents on the campuses of Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools, district chief Superintendent Earnest Winston urged community members to help keep schools safe.

After a gunshot was fired at the West Charlotte High School campus on Monday, Winston pleaded with parents to tell their children about the people they associate with, monitor social media accounts and verify backpack.

Days earlier, Winston posted a video message about school safety issues when several guns were discovered on district school campuses.

“Have difficult conversations about guns, other weapons, and fighting. Check their backpacks before you leave for school, ”Winston said in the video.

Due to the security concerns in CMS schools, WBTV spoke with Michael Dorn, the director of Safe Havens International. The national non-profit association works to help schools and school systems improve crisis preparedness and campus safety.

WBTV asked Dorn about the effectiveness of see-through backpacks in schools.

“We’ve looked at it a lot, a lot of school districts have tried it. Some have reported success. We are very skeptical, ”said the executive director of Safe Havens International.

Dorn explained that he was skeptical of the concept of a clear backpack because students could still hide a gun in a shoe or something in the backpack. He explained that school officials tried to make see-through backpacks mandatory in Parkland, Florida after the deadly 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

“A lot of parents wanted it. They tried it after the tragedy and gave it up very quickly after the students could show them that it was not as effective as many adults thought, ”Dorn explained.

Winston said CMS officials would also view metal detectors as a safe option for schools, but Dorn said some detectors can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy and use.

“There are times and places when they are appropriate, but people need to understand that it is extremely expensive,” said the executive director of Safe Havens International.

Dorn said he advises school system administrators not to rush when making decisions about safety improvements.

“We really urge school officials not to jump in and try to make massive changes right after a big event,” Dorn said. “We need to be thoughtful, look at the data, and make sure we identify the things for which we can make the most of the limited time, energy and budget that schools have. “

He said supervising students can be extremely important in creating a safe school environment. He said more supervision can lead to fewer fights and incidents on campus.

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