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South Whidbey School Board reviews gun, weapons rules

South Whidbey School Board members Damian Greene, Linda Racicot and Jill Engstrom listen during the regular meeting of the South Whidbey School Board last week, Aug. 28. The board made a policy change regarding students who violate school rules and bring guns or dangerous weapons onto school property.  - Celeste Erickson / The Record
South Whidbey School Board members Damian Greene, Linda Racicot and Jill Engstrom listen during the regular meeting of the South Whidbey School Board last week, Aug. 28. The board made a policy change regarding students who violate school rules and bring guns or dangerous weapons onto school property.
— image credit: Celeste Erickson / The Record

The South Whidbey School Board has approved a small policy change regarding dangerous weapons at school.

The existing policy prevents any person from carrying a firearm or dangerous weapon on school premises, school-provided transportation or other facilities used for school purposes.

Last week, the school board agreed that parents or guardians and appropriate law enforcement agencies would be notified in the event of known or suspected violations.

The policy change was a recommendation by the Washington State School Directors’ Association.

This change was something that was necessary, Superintendent Jo Moccia said. It makes sure to inform parents of any kind of issue related to policy violations.

The policy is a reflection of state legislation and federal law — the change is a compliance issue, Moccia said.

Moccia said last week the board needed to have something in place, but she plans to keep it on the agenda for possible future changes.

Board member Damian Greene expressed concern about staff members who need utensils, such as knives, to perform their jobs. Staff members, such as kitchen personnel and janitors, use these utensils as part of their normal duties, he said.

“I don’t want to have school personnel in violation of our policy,” Greene said.

The policy states several exceptions including military, law enforcement, security and persons in an authorized demonstration or competition. But school personnel are not included in the exemptions.

Greene also expressed concern over one exemption that allows persons competing in school-authorized firearm or airgun competitions to carry such weapons. Greene said the district doesn’t have such competitions, and he is worried about unnecessary allowances.

Board member Fred O’Neal thought it was better to leave in a clause that doesn’t apply now than to remove it and need it later.

The board agreed additional issues need to be covered with the policy and they will readdress the matter in a future policy discussion.

Greene asked if any community members have suggestions on the policy and said he can be emailed at dgreene@sw.wednet.edu if something else needs to be addressed.

The board voted unanimously to approve the policy change. The issue will be discussed again during the next workshop at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 11 in the board room at South Whidbey Primary Campus, 5476 S. Maxwelton Road.

 

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