Sunday, October 27, 2019

Weapons - Admn. muddies the water

On October 15, 2019 the school board altered the proposed revision of Board Policy GBEB Staff Conduct and removed all authorization for possession of weapons by employees on school grounds.

The existing policy was "possessing weapons on district property (unless otherwise authorized by law)".

The proposed revised policy was "possessing weapons on district property (unless otherwise authorized by law and the superintendent)".

Upon motion by Dr. Elkins-Johnson and seconded by Teresa Holmes, the board approved removing the entire parenthetical portion, leaving the proposed revision as "...possessing weapons on district property." Posssessing a weapon would be considered misconduct by an employee, subjecting him or her to discipline (not to mention the risk of arrest).

The vote was 5-1-1, with McKie voting "No" and Caution-Parker abstaining.

And that's how it ought to be coming back for a vote at the board meeting on October 29. The Board did not direct Administration to add anything to it.

But the Administration tampered with it and is proposing a new line in that bullet point of the Policy. That new line reads "(See policy JICI for items categorized as weapons.)

The problem is that Policy JICI applies to students, not employees. Further, when you read JICI, you will see this: "students will not possess any item capable of inflicting injury or harm (hereinafter referred to as a weapon".

Could any of these items be used to inflict injury or harm? Pen, pencil, ruler, credit card, key, comb, belt, shoelace, feet, hands, forehead, teeth? Students, you better leave them all at home.

Two weeks ago the discussion degraded in a battle of words over knives and box cutters. I was disgusted. A box cutter used in a shop class to open a box is a tool, not a weapon. Same with a knife. If used to assault or intentionally cut a person? It's a weapon. End of discussion.

Lately, I have observed that Richland 2 School District is rivaling the Federal Government in its number and complexity of Board Policies. 

Will the Board be able to vote on October 29 on GBEB and prohibit weapons (including firearms) on school grounds? Or will it have to amend the proposed revision, strike the student-related section added by Administration, and then wait until November 12 to vote?

In the meantime, will two employees continue to carry their concealed firearms? 

On October 29 the Board should direct the Superintendent to rescind his authorization for the two Emergency Services employees, who are not police officers or armed security personnel of the District, to to carry weapons (firearms) on school grounds. The Board's intention is that they not be grandfathered in or allowed to continue to carry, and the Board needs to make that crystal clear.

Why did McKie vote No? Just to "support" the superintendent? Listen to McKie's comments at the close of the discussion, after Elkins-Johnson had asked for the vote. At 1:09:09 on the YouTube recording of the October 15 board meeting, McKie proceeded with praise for Supt. Davis. Basically, she was just sucking up, for whatever reason. Her words added absolutely nothing to the discussion. She usurped the role of the Board Chair, who should have been the one to thank the superintendent. 

Why did Caution-Parker abstain? Is it that hard to pick a side instead of the middle of the road?

The motion actually passed with the minimum number of legal votes necessary - four "Yes" votes. Holmes' vote doesn't count, because she is not a legal member of the board. She illegally took the oath of office on November 13, 2018, as did McKie, before she was eligible to do so, and she (and McKie) has never taken the oath of office after becoming legally eligible to do so on December 4.

One of these days the Board is going to have to go all the way back to November 13, 2018 and review every decision made. Then it will have to remove the votes of McKie and Holmes. Many decisions will change regarding student matters (inclusion transfers and expulsions) and especially the Resolution allowing the Board to remove an officer.