By Collin Cunningham
(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) Good morning, daily Roundup readers! Bridging you over to the second half of the workweek on this Wednesday, April 27 and its sunny skies and 76-degree high, today's roundup starts with news of United States Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina, who received a citation for bringing a loaded firearm to the Charlotte airport on Tuesday.
Speaking of bridging, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Interim Superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh is prepared to make changes for students after the approval of its $2.1 billion budget at a Tuesday board meeting. President Joe Biden served as the bridge between a North Carolina man convicted of drug charges and freedom by commuting his sentence and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte is preparing to remember students killed in a 2019 shooting.
But first, feedback: We want to hear from you to help improve the Roundup. Have a suggestion for changes or new daily features, or want to sound off on a recent story? Drop us a line in the comments section.
1. Cawthorn caught carrying: NC GOP Rep. Madison Cawthorn found with loaded gun at TSA checkpoint
What happened: The Transportation Security Administration cited United States Congressman Madison Cawthorn, a Republican representing North Carolina's 11th Congressional District in the west, for bringing a loaded handgun to the Charlotte Douglas International Airport on Tuesday. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department confirmed via Twitter that the 26-year-old GOP politician had violated a Charlotte ordinance, prompting officers to confiscate the weapon.
That is standard procedure, CMPD continued, whenever a gun is found at the travel center and is done "in lieu of arrest for the misdemeanor charge of Possession of a Dangerous Weapon on City Property," barring any other possible felonies.
Why it matters: The news comes within a week of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol publicizing footage of a March 3 traffic stop in Cleveland County that ended with Cawthorn losing his driver's license, per The News & Observer. According to USA Today, Cawthorn also received a citation for attempting to pass through a security checkpoint at Asheville Regional Airport inside the district he represents in February of 2021.
A story from The Guardian in early April compared Cawthorn's recent political strategies to those of former President Donald Trump, whose son the representative is scheduled to appear alongside in Utah this summer, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.
2. New CMS Super Hugh Hattabaugh prioritizes student improvements, safety after district approves $2.1B budget
The members of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Board of Education faced a robust agenda when they met on Tuesday, hearing plans for possible grade-improving action from recently hired Interim Superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh before voting 8-0 to finalize a $2.1 billion operating budget that will carry the district from 2022 to 2023. Board member Rhonda Cheek was absent on Tuesday.
Even bigger budget: Earlier Roundups previewed a $1.7 billion budget for the district, but the school system upped its funding request to Mecklenburg County to $578.4 million, an increase of over $40 million from the 2021-2022 budget ask. The extra county contributions will be used to supplement the following aspects of the budget:
- Across the board, CMS teachers can expect to see a 2.7% increase for educators, support staff and assistant principals; principals and other administrators will witness 2.5% raises, bringing CMS' teacher wages to the highest in North Carolina.
- Roughly $3.8 million will be used to implement initiatives designed to improve non-English speaking students' ability to understand and communicate in the language.
Hattabaugh's priorities: Describing the CMS board as being "sort of in gridlock," Hattabaugh laid out broad plans to soon begin addressing issues that the district has dealt with for months:
- Safety: After the district botched the rollout of over $440,000 in clear backpacks it had intended to distribute to students before discovering cancer warning labels in March, Hattabaughy said the bags are "on hold" as the district conducts "serious discussions." In the meantime, the interim superintendent intends to add staff to hallways to monitor students during key points of the day, namely between classes and during lunch.
- Improving grades: Winston's initial budget draft promised a "significant investment" in CMS students following reports of pandemic-propelled learning loss. In response, on Tuesday Hattabaugh said the board had a plan that would "ensure essential resources are driven rapidly to the students and schools in greatest need," but did not elaborate on specific initiatives.
3. Cocaine clemency: Biden reduces sentence of Charlotte man charged with drug crimes
What happened: Charlotte resident Kelvin Beaufort had eleven years sliced off his prison sentence after U.S. President Joe Biden announced his initial list of clemency recipients on Tuesday. Of the 78 citizens to get shorter sentences, Beaufort is the only North Carolinian.
The 45-year-old's charges stemmed from a 2005 indictment that named him and 24 others on drug charges; police found Beaufort with 5 kilograms of cocaine and 50 grams of crack cocaine and a court prescribed a 27-year sentence. He will have to remain on home confinement due to a 20-year supervised release period that begins on April 26, 2023, one year after the clemency was issued.
Zooming out: The majority of Tuesday's sentencing reductions focused on non-violent drug crimes, which Reuters reports to be a focus of Biden's due to the propensity of Black and brown people to face drug charges more often than white individuals.
The third annual Day of Remembrance for 19-year-old Reed Parlier and 21-year-old Riley Howell, the two University of the North Carolina at Charlotte students who died when 22-year-old Trystan Terrell opened fire on campus on April 30, 2019, features a day full of activities at the public research school.
The schedule of events for the April 29 commemoration — held a day prior to the anniversary this year due to the weekend — can be found here. It includes a group of Employee Assistance Program discussions giving workers the opportunity to share their thoughts on the shooting, a yoga session and the dedication of a new memorial in the school's botanical gardens.
Readers can also view messages of condolence and reflection shared by UNC students, alumni and staff members on this page.