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LUHS Goes Extra Step in Weapon Prohibition

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The Lakeland Union High School board of education has adopted a more stringent policy toward prohibiting weapons on school grounds in Minocqua.

Adopted on a 7-1 vote Monday, the new policy forbids anyone from “knowingly possessing a firearm” in a personal vehicle parked on school property or at a school sanctioned event or activity.

Previously, the district allowed weapons to be in locked vehicles parked at the school if the driver was in legal possession of a weapon

Noting he is a “red blooded American gun owner,” principal Justin Szews urged adoption of the revised policy. There is no guarantee that a locked vehicle with a firearm won’t be broken into, he said, adding that school officials won’t be checking vehicles whose drivers are simply dropping off or picking up students.

The policy as amended does allow a person to have a weapon inside the locked vehicle at the discretion of the school administrator. Board member Shawn Umland had pointed out a situation in which an adult officiating a game may want to bring a firearm or archery equipment because that person plans to hunt the next day.

Exceptions to the policy include the obvious one of law enforcement officers, starter pistols, theatrical props, and weapons as part of a class or school sponsored club, such as skeet shooting or hunter safety class.

The board considered but rejected an option that would have allowed any weapon legally possessed, cased and unloaded in a locked vehicle, and which was not visible to someone outside the vehicle.

A student found guilty of violating the policy could face disciplinary action, including suspension or expulsion. A staff member in a similar situation could be referred to law enforcement and be subject to disciplinary action, including job termination.

Board member Barry Seidel, who was the lone dissenter, sits on the board’s policy committee, which forwarded the revised rule to the full board. He noted the new policy infringes on the rights of students who do follow the rules because it allows a search of a private vehicle based on “reasonable suspicion” and not “probable cause.” It “penalizes their freedoms,” he said, while not significantly increase school safety.

Seidel said the district’s attorney had signed off the revisions as ones that the board could enact. However, the prohibition of weapons in locked private vehicles on school grounds has yet to be challenged in courts, he said.

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