By Andrew Cluley
To ensure a safe and disruption-free educational environment, the Ann Arbor School Board Wednesday night approved updates of three school safety policies. The changes are designed to protect students and district employees from potential acts or threats of violence, ensure a safe and disruption free-environment, and ban possession of dangerous weapons on property owned or leased by Ann Arbor Public Schools.
The Board of Education voted unanimously for the policies that go into effect immediately.
“The law is clear around our responsibility for student safety and our broad discretion in maintaining a disruption free educational environment,” said Board of Education President Deb Mexicotte. President Mexicotte said, “The board and community have clearly stated dangerous weapons such as guns in our schools are inconsistent with that legal responsibility.”
District policy considers the presence of any dangerous weapon as an emergency. This will lead to the immediate implementation of all activities and procedures related to this type of emergency until the dangerous weapon is removed from the premises.
Superintendent, Dr. Jeanice Swift said, “Our teachers and school leaders have incredible responsibility already, how can we possibly determine the intention of a gun-carrier on campus, to sort out the ‘good’ guys from those with malicious intent? The presence of guns in schools runs contrary to everything we are wired for in education, and is counterproductive to maintaining a rich, productive, and healthy learning environment for our children.”
“We take this seriously with our children, and I think it’s only right, again I’m one trustee but in talking with the rest of us, that we take this seriousness with the adults as well,” Trustee Susan Baskett said.
The policy does not apply to sworn law enforcement officers, but includes all other individuals. Mexicotte said, “Our practice is when there are legal principles in conflict we look to our legislators and legal experts to reconcile those conflicts.”
School Board Trustee Andy Thomas said, “I’m Pleased that we have approved a policy that will protect students and if tested in court we will be able to defend successfully.”
Prior to the vote Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor told the Board of Education the city would enforce an ordinance requiring anyone creating a disturbance in a school to leave the building when directed by the principal.