Parents swiftly notified of Heights student with gun

A Heights High School student who was caught with a gun in his backpack on Friday is accused of possession of a firearm by a felon and criminal possession of a firearm by a juvenile, according to a police report.

The student’s name and criminal history have not been released because of his age.

Wichita school district spokeswoman Susan Arensman said parents of students at Heights were notified of the incident by way of automated ParentLink calls and e-mails on Friday.

Teachers and other school employees were not notified officially until Wednesday.

“It was so quick. It was an isolated incident that involved only a few administrators, and there was no imminent threat or anything like that,” Arensman said.

“They (administrators) wanted parents to know first. Otherwise, you have potential rumors and other things that could wind up with the truth getting distorted,” she said.

In the recorded message, Heights principal Bruce Deterding said: “I wanted you to be aware that while investigating an incident today, we discovered one of our students was in possession of a weapon.

“The situation was dealt with quickly,” he continued. “I wanted you to be aware that at no point were any students or staff in danger or threatened. We take these matters seriously. The student will face disciplinary action according to Board of Education policy.”

The district’s policy on weapons in schools requires a yearlong expulsion for anyone caught with a firearm or replica firearm at school or at a school-supervised activity.

As part of the enrollment process, each student and his or her parent or guardian are required to sign a form acknowledging that they have read and understand the policy.

The incident is the second reported case this school year of a weapon at Wichita schools. In August, an East High student was arrested after a gun and ammunition were found in his locker.

Neither students, school employees nor parents were notified of that weapon or subsequent arrest. At the time, Arensman said “the principal makes the decision” of whether to notify families or employees, and “each situation is looked at differently.”

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