Saturday, March 7, 2015

Bringing Guns to School: Legal, Yes; OK, No; Kids Can't, Teachers Can't, But Others Can

By now you know that on Thursday night, March 5th, a man named Joshua Wade--grandson of a former deputy superintendent in the Ann Arbor Public Schools, William Wade--brought a gun to a choir concert at Pioneer H.S.

By now you know that the police were called, that they learned that Joshua Wade had a license to carry concealed weapons, which gives him license to carry openly (but not concealed) in schools. The police concluded they could do nothing.

As the Free Press explains:

MCL 28.450 provides that a person with a concealed pistol license may not carry the weapon in a pistol-free zone, including a school or school property, except a parent or legal guardian who is dropping off or picking up a child and the pistol is kept in the vehicle; a public or private day care center; a sports arena or stadium; a bar or tavern; a church, synagogue, mosque, temple, or other place of worship; an entertainment facility with seating capacity of 2,500 or more; a hospital, and a dormitory or classroom of a community college, college, or university.
However, the statute applies to concealed pistol license holders carrying a concealed pistol. If the holder is carrying a non-concealed pistol, the statute does not apply. (Emphasis added.)

By now you know that the Ann Arbor Public Schools are trying to figure out what their options are. They are, of course, constrained by state law.

It's true. You can follow me on twitter. @schoolsmuse

You might or might not know that state law requires that schools have, essentially, zero tolerance for kids bringing weapons--on purpose or accidentally--into schools. 


(2) If a pupil possesses in a weapon free school zone a weapon that constitutes a dangerous weapon, commits arson in a school building or on school grounds, or commits criminal sexual conduct in a school building or on school grounds, the school board, or the designee of the school board as described in subsection (1) on behalf of the school board, shall expel the pupil from the school district permanently, subject to possible reinstatement under subsection (5). However, a school board is not required to expel a pupil for possessing a weapon if the pupil establishes in a clear and convincing manner at least 1 of the following:
(a) The object or instrument possessed by the pupil was not possessed by the pupil for use as a weapon, or for direct or indirect delivery to another person for use as a weapon.
(b) The weapon was not knowingly possessed by the pupil.
(c) The pupil did not know or have reason to know that the object or instrument possessed by the pupil constituted a dangerous weapon.
(d) The weapon was possessed by the pupil at the suggestion, request, or direction of, or with the express permission of, school or police authorities.

It's true. You can follow me on twitter. @schoolsmuse

You might, or might not know that school policies generally prohibit employees from bringing weapons onto school property, even if the employee in question has a permit to carry concealed weapons.

See, for instance, the Ann Arbor Education Association's Office Professionals contract, which states that having a weapon on school property is grounds for dismissal for an employee. (Similar language can be seen in other contracts.)

DISCIPLINE AND DISCHARGE This article shall not pertain to probationary employees with fewer than ninety (90) days of employment in this Association.  
Section 1- Just Cause  
A. No employee shall be disciplined (written reprimand, suspension, or discharged for disciplinary reasons) without just cause. For purposes of this Agreement, just cause shall include but not be limited to:
1) Refusal or failure to accept or perform work assigned during regularly scheduled hours, in accordance with the provisions of this Agreement;....
8) Possessing a weapon on the Employer’s property;  (Emphasis added)
You might or might not know that the majority of workplace and school shootings happen with people who have a prior relationship to the workplace or school and are known. These might be co-workers (think disgruntled employee), relatives of co-workers (think domestic violence), "customers" (think students or parents).

You might or might not know that schools throughout the county are being trained in the A.L.I.C.E. protocols, which states that when you have an active threat, you Alert; Lockdown; Inform; Counter; and Evacuate (if it is safe to do so). All of the county's districts are doing trainings with teachers and administrators, and students are being taught ways to respond, particularly as far as evacuation goes.

I recently went through the ALICE training at work, and I can therefore state quite confidently that:

1. ALICE protocols were not followed at the choir concert (police were called but the people present were not alerted to someone having a weapon), and
2. How are you supposed to know if someone walks into a school building, openly carrying a weapon, whether they are or are not an active threat? I think you would have to assume that they are.

The very *idea* that somebody--known or unknown--can open carry into a school building, and NOT have the schools react, is ridiculous. What kind of confusing messages are we giving to students and parents and teachers? When does ALICE apply, and when doesn't it?

Schools in Michigan are struggling with these contradictions.

Obviously, the easiest thing would be for the state legislature to make it illegal to carry weapons--whether concealed or carried openly--into schools--just as they are banned at places of worship and bars.

While Representatives Schor and Hoadley have introduced this type of legislation, given our current legislature, I'm not holding my breath.

In the meantime, some school districts are trying other things. I believe that the Huron Valley Schools ultimately decided that if anybody brings in a weapon, they will invoke ALICE protocols.

Meanwhile, in Clio, near Flint, somebody is suing because he wants to open carry into his daughter's school. Let's give support to the school district, whose former superintendent explains things this way:

Former Clio schools Superintendent James Tenbusch said in September 2013 that the district adopted the philosophy of being a drug-free, weapon-free environment and that it understands state law and the U.S. Constitution allow firearms to be openly carried on school property.
He had said the district has the right to ask individuals to leave the school if they disrupt the academic process.
Tenbusch said following the incident the school goes into lockdown when a weapon is found on its property, and those lockdowns cause a disruption in the school. He said those disruptions justify the district's demand that those with weapons leave.

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  1. Thank you SO MUCH for mentioning ALICE. All these Internet weirdos blathering on about Lorenz and DiBlassio doing the wrong thing for calling police and alerting families when NO ONE DID ENOUGH. Why did people let this kid's association with a former administrator and that man's assurance that this was okay override protocols that the kids have been trained in? My daughter told me a couple of middle schoolers cried because no one made the kid with the gun leave. What are we teaching them?

  2. BRAVO: I hope the school board reads this post and have a plan in place to follow ALICE protocols at their next meeting. The open carry activists plan to go and disrupt the next board meeting. The schools should respond consistently with ALICE protocol every time this happens (and I assume it will continue to happen until the novelty for the open carry people wears off). If the man who open carried really was there to hear his sister sing and ALICE protocol had been followed, then he would realize that he has two conflicting desires and has to choose either to attend the concert or to push his open carry agenda.

    1. Thanks for the suggestion. I sent the board the link to the post just now.

  3. Weird, why didn't they invoke ALICE protocol at any of the meetings? Why is it if everyone is so scared of lawful gun carriers, none of those neurotics seem to have a problem antagonizing them?

    Inconsistent and hypocritical much?