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School weapons policy debated

March 19, 1997

By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

Staff Writer

The Washington County Board of Education on Wednesday discussed a proposed policy that would ban all dangerous weapons except firearms used for historical demonstrations.

The purpose of the weapons policy was to address weapons considered "educational artifacts," said Andrew McMahon, assistant superintendent for administration.

It stemmed from a January incident in which a principal called about a student bringing a firearm to school for a historical presentation, McMahon said.

Since no policy was in place at the time, he said, the principal was instructed to make sure the gun wasn't loaded before allowing the student to bring it into school.

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The new policy was drafted following discussion with elementary and secondary supervisors, who agreed the school system needed to a policy to avoid a possibly dangerous situation in the future, McMahon said.

"To err on the side of safety is what I think we owe our students," he said.

The policy would prohibit all deadly weapons except firearms deemed "artifacts" that have been granted prior written permission from central office administration, McMahon said.

The firearms would have to date from 1898 or before and must be rendered inoperable, he said.

Law enforcement officers would be exempt from the policy, McMahon said.

Board President B. Marie Byers suggested the board take a look at Baltimore's weapons policy and search the Maryland Association of Boards of Education archives.

Board member Andrew R. Humphreys suggested including items that resemble deadly weapons in the policy.

Humphreys also recommended the policy be reviewed by the school board's attorney.

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