Recent incidents involving guns misfiring at Huntsville City Schools have some school board members rethinking student disciplinary policies.
The latest event occurred on October 25, when a student brought a gun into McDonnell Elementary School and accidentally fired it in one of the bathrooms, according to WHNT.
Outgoing board member Elisa Ferrell proposed expelling the student, but current procedures detailed in the district's Behavioural Learning Guide (BLG) don't allow for the expulsion of elementary students, despite what the current policy manual says.
The district policy manual section 4.02 states that any student who brings a firearm onto school property will be "expelled for a period of one year." However, "the expulsion requirement may be modified in writing by the Board upon recommendation of the Superintendent on a case-by-case basis."
"If the student is in elementary, the Behavior Learning Guide, formerly the code of conduct, doesn't allow us to expel," Ferrell told 1819 News in an email.
Ferrell said this issue hadn't been formally discussed among other board members, but District 4 School Board member Ryan Renaud reportedly disagreed with Ferrell's suggestion, placing the blame in this case on the parents instead of the student.
"It really does start just like any other disciplinary action starts and stops at home," Renaud told WHNT. "We can control as best we can discipline inside of the classroom while they are inside of that school building, but what they bring into that building is a very difficult thing to manage… But it does trouble me at times to hear individual people make comments or demands for the system when it may or may not reflect the overarching view of the system."
Even if the board were to agree on expelling the elementary student, it would take approval by the U.S. Department of Justice and a federal judge to change or add to the schools' BLG, unlike board policy, Ferrell said.
"All changes to the BLG have to go through the DOJ and the federal judge. A policy addition rather than a BLG addition doesn't require their approval," she said. "We do have to follow our procedures and go through the policy committee. It would be presented to the board after committee, then voted on in the next meeting … Ms. [Beth] Wilder and I rotate off the board this week, so, if a policy is created, there will be two new members who will be weighing in on this decision."
Months before the incident at McDonnell, a student at Sonnie Hereford Elementary also fired a gun on school property.
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