Weapons Policy Adjusted in Watertown High School Handbook

The School Committee worried that the policy was not flexible enough to fit all situations.

Watertown High School.
Watertown High School.
School officials are revising parts of the Watertown High School student handbook that unfortunately the school has had some experience with recently - the sections on weapons.

In December, a bullet was found in a classroom at the high school, causing the school to go into lockdown. 

The handbook addresses weapons in two sections. School Committee members noticed the wording is slightly different, but in a ways that could have very different consequences.

Under "Possession of Illegal Weapons" it reads as follows:

"Any student in possession of a dangerous or illegal weapon, including but not limited to a replica or facsimile of a weapon, on school property or at any school events at any time will be subject to immediate suspension."

Under "Expulsions and Suspensions" it says a student "may" be suspended for having a weapon or replica on school property.

School Committee member John Portz said he is uncomfortable with something being required.

"We should be cautious of something being mandatory and taking professional's discretion away," Portz said.

School Committee member Guido Guidotti was one of the members uncomfortable with the wording that "replicas and facsimiles" of weapons being included in a mandatory suspension.

"I think we need language that says it is something that a reasonable would think is a gun," Guidotti said. "A facsimile could be a picture on a piece of paper or a cookie or cake in the shape of a gun."

Superintendent Jean Fitzgerald said this is a very serious subject, and even if a student brings a toy to school it could lead to a bad ending.

"It is very serious if a student has a toy gun that looks real," Fitzgerald said. "That is a very dangerous thing in this day and age."

The School Committee voted 7-0 to change "will result in suspension" to "may result in suspension" in the illegal weapons section.


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