• WEAPONS AND FIREARMS
    POLICY CODE: C5

    First Reading: February 21, 2017
    Second Reading: March 7, 2017
    Adopted: March 7, 2017

    Policy
    Weapons of any type are prohibited from all Essex Westford School District (EWSD) schools, properties, activities or events. The use or possession of weapons of any type will not be tolerated by EWSD schools. It is the policy of EWSD to comply with all federal and state laws concerning the prohibition of weapons and firearms on school property, including the federal Gun Free Schools Act of 1994 and the equivalent Vermont statute 16 V.S.A. § 1166, requiring school districts to provide for the possible expulsion of students who bring a firearm to school. It is also the intent of the Board to comply with Vermont Statute 13 V.S.A. § 4004, prohibiting the possession of all dangerous or deadly weapons, replicas or facsimiles of any dangerous or deadly weapon, at school or on
    school grounds. For purposes of this policy the terms "firearm" and "to school" shall have the same meaning as found in 18 U.S.C. § 921. Additionally, the term weapon shall include the definition provided in 13 V.S.A. § 4016, as further defined by the Board.

    It is further the intent of the board to maintain a student discipline system consistent with the requirements of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Vermont State Board of Education rules.

    Prohibited Conduct
    Possession and/or use of any dangerous or deadly weapon or facsimile of any dangerous or deadly weapon at school or on school grounds (including athletic fields, parking lots and leased facilities) or at school functions and events is prohibited and will not be tolerated under any circumstances. It is also a violation of this policy for any person to make, issue, or communicate by any means, a threat that a dangerous or deadly weapon has been, or will be placed or used on school grounds or property. This policy is in effect before, during and after school, as well as at any school sponsored activity for 24 hours a day and 7 days a week regardless of school breaks.

    This policy does not apply to a law enforcement officer while engaged in law enforcement duties or to weapons or facsimiles of weapons used in school functions or ceremonies as approved by the Board or the Superintendent. Additionally, the Superintendent upon notice to the School Board may specifically authorize the possession or use of a weapon for instructional, educational or other specific occasions and purposes.

    Definitions
    For the purposes of this policy, the terms "weapon", "firearm", "school" and "expelled" shall have the following meanings:

    Weapon as defined in 13 V.S.A. §4016 means any firearm, knife, fighting instrument or other
    weapon-like device, instrument, material or substance, whether animate or inanimate, which in the manner it is used or is intended to be used, is known to be capable of producing death or serious bodily injury. Examples of such weapons include knives, clubs, brass knuckles or nun chucks. Weapon also includes any reasonable facsimile, reproduction or replica of the above.

    Firearm and destructive devices as defined in Section 921 of Title 18 of the United States Code and 13 V.S.A. §4016 means:

      • any weapon whether loaded or unloaded which will or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive
      • the frame or receiver of any weapon described above
      • any firearm muffler or firearm silencer
      • any explosive, incendiary or poison gas
      • bomb
      • grenade
      • rocket having a propellant charge of more than four ounces
      • missile having an explosive or incendiary charge of more than one quarter ounce
      • mine, or
      • similar device
      • any weapon which will, or which may be, readily converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive or other propellant, and which has any barrel with a bore of more than one-half inch in diameter
      • a weapon shall also include any combination of parts either designed or intended for use in converting any device into any destructive device, bomb or firearm
      • any reasonable facsimile or reproduction of a firearm

     

    School or To School means any setting which is owned, leased, subcontracted or otherwise under the control and supervision of the School District. It includes school grounds, buildings, parking lots, facilities, school-sponsored events whether held on or off of school grounds and vehicles used to transport students to and from school or school activities including school buses and personal vehicles.

    Expelled or Long Term Suspended shall mean the termination of educational services to a student for greater than a 10 day period. At the discretion of the Board, an expelled student may be afforded limited educational services at a site other than the school during the period of expulsion under this policy.

    Sanctions for Firearm Violations
    Any student who brings a firearm or destructive device to school or possesses a firearm or destructive device at school, as defined in 18 U.S.C. 921 shall be brought by the Superintendent to the School Board for a long term suspension or expulsion hearing. Following the opportunity for a hearing before the Board, a student found by the Board to have brought a firearm to school shall be long term suspended and expelled from the District’s schools and events for at least one calendar year. However, the Board may modify the expulsion on a case-by-case basis when it finds circumstances such as, but not limited to:

      • The student was unaware he or she had brought a firearm to school
      • The student did not intend to use the firearm to threaten or endanger others
      • The student is disabled and the misconduct is related to the disability
      • The student does not present an ongoing threat to others and a lengthy expulsion would not serve the best interests of the pupil.

    An expulsion hearing conducted under this policy shall afford due process as required by Law and Vermont State Board of Education Rules. In addition, any student who brings a firearm to school shall be referred to a law enforcement agency and a report may be made to the Vermont Department of Children and Families as necessary.

    Sanctions for All Other Weapons Violations
    Any student who brings a weapon (other than a firearm) as defined by this policy to school may be brought by the Superintendent to the School Board for an expulsion hearing. The Principal shall make a recommendation to the Superintendent regarding the disposition of the disciplinary consequences for the weapons violation. Referral to the School Board for an expulsion hearing lies with the discretion of the Superintendent for all weapons violations not involving a firearm. Following the opportunity for a hearing before the Board, a student found by the Board
    to have brought a weapon to school shall be long term suspended from the District’s schools and events for up to the remainder of the school year or up to 90 school days, whichever is longer. 

    However, the Board may modify the long term suspension on a case-by-case basis when it finds circumstances such as, but not limited to:

     

      • The student was unaware he or she had brought a weapon to school
      • /
      • The student did not intend to use the weapon to threaten or endanger others
      • The student is disabled and the misconduct is related to the disability
      • The student does not present an ongoing threat to others and a lengthy expulsion would not serve the best interests of the pupil.


    An expulsion hearing conducted under this policy shall afford due process as required by Law and Vermont State Board of Education Rules. In addition, any student who brings a weapon to school shall be referred to a law enforcement agency and a report may be made to the Vermont Department of Children and Families as necessary.

    As required by state law, the Superintendent shall annually provide the Commissioner of Education with descriptions of the circumstances surrounding expulsions imposed under this policy, the number of students expelled and the type of weapons involved.

    Aiding Other Students
    A student who, in any way, encourages another student to bring any type of weapon including a firearm (as defined above) to school also endangers the safety of others. The school district expressly prohibits such actions. No student shall knowingly or willfully cause, encourage or aid any other student to possess, handle, or transmit any weapon or facsimile of a weapon. No student shall knowingly or willfully cause, encourage or aid any other student to make issue or
    otherwise communicate by any means, a threat that a dangerous or deadly weapon has been or will be placed or used on school grounds or property. A student found to have violated this provision by causing, encouraging, aiding, etc. another student to violate this policy, shall be subject to disciplinary consequences up to and including long term suspension or expulsion. Students with knowledge of a weapon on campus or at an activity are required to report the
    matter to a staff member or another adult immediately.

    Immediate Removal From School
    Nothing within this policy shall prevent a Superintendent, Principal or his/her designee subject to subsequent due process procedures from removing immediately from a school, school activity, school property, school vehicle, etc. any student who brings or possesses a weapon to school and who poses an immediate threat or a continuing threat of disrupting the academic progress or whose presence may be harmful to the welfare of the school and its students and staff.

    Legal Reference(s)

      • 16 V.S.A. §1166 (State law pursuant to Federal law)
      • 13 V.S.A. §§4004, 4016 (Criminal offenses)
      • 20 U.S.C. §7151(Gun Free Schools Act of 1994)
      • 18 U.S.C. §921 (Federal definition of firearms)
      • 20 U.S.C. §§1400 et seq.(IDEA)
      • 29 U.S.C. §794 (Section 504, Rehabilitation Act of 1973)
      • Vt. State Board of Education Manual of Rules & Practices, §§4311, 4312

     

    Policy Cross References:

      • Student Interrogations & Searches
      • Discipline & Required Student Behavior J5
      • Student Suspension