Wichita school district to consider new gun policy in response to change in state law

06/15/2013 10:52 AM

08/06/2014 2:20 AM

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story was not clear about the state law on guns in schools.

Wichita school board members on Monday will consider a policy that would ban firearms from school district buildings or district-owned vehicles, except by law enforcement officers.

Officials said the proposed policy, a response to new legislation that changed concealed carry in public buildings, would clarify that Wichita schools are gun-free zones.

The policy also says any employee who possesses a firearm in a school district building “or while engaged in work on behalf of the district is subject to discipline, up to and including termination.”

Terri Moses, executive director of safety and security for Wichita schools, said the policy is reasonable and necessary.

“It’s important to have policies so employees are well-informed and understand what their rights are,” Moses said.

“Certainly in regards to this situation, with so much media attention, many times people get misinformation about what is appropriate and what’s not.”

A new law passed by the Kansas Legislature makes it legal for public employees with security access cards to carry firearms into workplaces even if those workplaces are posted as no-gun areas. The law, which goes into effect July 1, leaves it to employers to use their own rules to discipline those who violate workplace policy.

Daniel C. Nagel, a physical education teacher at White Elementary School, was arrested May 20 on suspicion of carrying a concealed gun on school property. He faces a misdemeanor charge and is scheduled to have his first appearance on July 8.

Since his arrest, Nagel has been on paid administrative leave, according to district officials.

Current state law prevents anyone other than law enforcement officers from carrying a gun into a school, regardless of whether that person has a concealed-carry license, if a sign banning guns is conspicuously posted.

School board president Lynn Rogers said he supports the policy board members will consider Monday.

“It’s really, I think, what’s probably best for our kids,” Rogers said. “There are too many difficult situations we can be placed in by just allowing anyone to have a gun.”

The new state law allows school districts to designate an employee to carry a gun. All seven Wichita board members have said they would not support an employee carrying a gun.

“If the board wants to go that direction we can do that,” Rogers said. “But it needs to be a management and board directive, not an individual teacher decision.”

According to the proposed district policy, employees or others could store a handgun in a personal vehicle on school grounds “so long as the person has a valid Kansas concealed carry license and the weapon is maintained out of plain sight.”

“You don’t have to stop out in the road and take your gun off before you park,” said Moses, the district’s director of security.

“The statute does have some reasonable expectations in regards to people’s rights, in terms of, ‘When do I move from being a private citizen to an employee on school grounds?’ ”

Weapons will continue to be prohibited at school-sponsored events, indoors and out, Moses said.

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