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

(Continued)

“It does not preclude our staff from making contact with the police department,” he said.

Carney and School Board Chairman Bernard Campbell have questioned whether the district needs two policies — one dealing with weapons at school and the other with weapons at school-sanctioned events held off school property.

Delahanty said Tuesdayonly one policy would be required. Campbell was out of town and did not attend the meeting.

Delahanty and board member Peter Morgan said they hope there won’t be a need to refer to the weapons policy.

“Let’s hope this never has to be enacted,” Delahanty said.

When the district first proposed the policy change, it drew criticism from Concord attorney Penny Dean, a gun rights advocate, and Mitch Kopacz, president of Gun Owners of New Hampshire.

“We’ll keep a pretty close eye on this,” Kopacz said, calling it an infringement on constitutional rights.

Both called the policy unnecessary and a knee-jerk reaction.

“That’s really shortsighted and ignorant for educators to do something like that,” Dean said yesterday. “New Hampshire is a common sense state and I don’t think that is a common sense way.”

She said a teenager who drives his father’s pickup to school could be expelled just because the parent did not take his hunting rifle out of the vehicle.

Automatic expulsion also strips the principal of the right to make an informed decision on whether the student should be expelled, Dean said.

“Principals, in order to do what’s fair and just, need to take into account each student and each particular set of circumstances,” she said.

Municipalities and school districts across the country, including Salem, began tightening their weapons policies and security procedures following the fatal shootings of 26 people at a Newtown, Conn., school in December.

Salem has since improved security systems at its schools.

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