EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

October 24, 2013

Tougher school gun policy OK'd in Salem

Salem students would face automatic one-year expulsion

SALEM — A student who brings a gun to school or a school-sponsored event faces an automatic one-year expulsion under a new policy approved by the School Board.

The board voted, 4-0, Tuesday to adopt a stricter district weapons policy to bring it in line with the state’s Safe School Zone law, according to Superintendent Michael Delahanty.

But the new policy does not call for tougher action against a student found with other types of weapons, such as a knife.

The student would face the same discipline outlined in the previous policy, which allows the school principal to immediately suspend the individual for 10 days.

That policy also permits the superintendent to impose an additional 10-day suspension, Delahanty said. The School Board could then decide to expel the student for up to a year.

There have not been any gun-related incidents in Salem schools or at school functions elsewhere, Delahanty said.

He said the policy change, proposed last month, was recommended by the district’s legal counsel and the New Hampshire School Boards Association.

Liability concerns raised by Salem School Board members at their meeting Sept. 24 prompted Delahanty to take another look at the proposal.

Board member Michael Carney Jr. questioned whether the policy would cover students who bring weapons to school events not on district property, such as a prom, since state law allows guns to be carried in public places.

Delahanty assured Carney Tuesday night that a student could still be punished for bringing a weapon to those places. But Carney, who said he consulted with a lawyer, still had concerns.

“He said, ‘I don’t think you have a legal leg to stand on,’” Carney said.

Carney said he was afraid the district would be sued.

There also were questions about what the district could do if an adult turned up at an event legally carrying a gun. Delahanty said the only thing school officials or chaperones could do is notify police.

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