New CMS superintendent says school safety is priority

Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools' new superintendent was sworn in at Tuesday's Board of Education meeting. 

FOX 46 sat down with Superintendent Ernest Winston to learn what his outlook is for the upcoming school year.

Safety is number one as students head back to class on August 26, Winston tells FOX 46. He says he's not ruling out metal detectors in schools, but says they would need to work through logistics and how to pay for them.

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"Whatever decisions I make I do it through the lens of ‘would I do this for my child?'" 

Winston has been a teacher, a journalist, and a CMS leader, but he says his most important role now in his new job is from the perspective of a parent. 

FOX 46's Robin Kanady asked Winston what he would say to those parents who are asking ‘is my child safe at school?'  

"Yes, your child is safe. I am a parent of two girls in Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools, so I would tell my fellow parents I go to bed at night and I wake up in the morning thinking are there other ways, and we already have a strong platform of things we're doing to help keep children, staff and other visitors to our schools safe?" Winston said.

Winston says CMS is doing background checks on its employees and volunteers every night, and making sure every new hire is fingerprinted following a lapse in that mandatory procedure. 

A task force recommended CMS do a better job letting parents know which events and clubs are managed by the district and which ones are not.

That comes after FOX 46 uncovered last April that one of CMS's former volunteers Ricardo Mata, who is now charged with sex crimes against children, was in the United States illegally, according to ICE.

"We want to make sure that everyone who walks on our campus that they belong there," Winston said. 

CMS's former superintendent Dr. Clayton Wilcox resigned earlier this month after he was abruptly suspended by the school board.

FOX 46 asked Winston if he would release information about why Wilcox left, but he says legally, he can't do that.