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Tentative OK given to knife-length wording

September 09, 1998

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Right now, size matters when it comes to bringing knives into Berkeley County public schools.

But the Berkeley County Board of Education is considering changing that.

The school board on Tuesday night tentatively approved altering the definition of "deadly weapon" in its three-year-old Safe Schools Policy to include "knives with blades of any length."

It would replace "knives with blades over 3.5 inches in length" in the long list of items included as deadly weapons in the 16-page policy, which addresses weapons, drugs and violence in schools and spells out disciplinary procedures.

Among other items specified as "deadly weapons" are switchblade knives, pistols, revolvers, metallic or false knuckles, nunchakus, poison gas bombs, grenades and missiles.

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The question of knife length came up in several situations with students last school year, said school board President Todd M. Beckwith.

That led to discussions among school officials about whether a smaller knife is any less dangerous than a larger one, Beckwith said.

The new policy will be distributed to all county schools and members of the public will have from next Monday through Sept. 28 to comment on the proposed change.

School board meetings include a public comment period that could be used to voice opinions on the matter, Beckwith said.

The next meeting is at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 17, at the central office.

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