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In the past three years, the Humboldt Unified School District has not had any "firearms" or "destructive device" incidents on school campuses. Districts are required to keep track of, and report, incidents involving guns (and drugs, cheating, truancy and other infractions) in its annual Safe Schools Incident Reports.
HUSD Director of Human Resources Dan Streeter researched the number of incidents involving guns - real and fake - on school sites for the past three years. He said it was difficult to pull data prior to the 2011-2012 school year because definitions and reporting requirements changed. There are more than 60 categories and sub-categories.
"We have had infractions under 'dangerous items,'" Streeter said, describing two incidents that met the definition, which includes any unpermitted items that, if used improperly, could cause bodily harm to others; examples are air soft gun, BB gun, knives, laser pointer, mace, piercing needle, paintball gun, pellet gun, razor blade or box cutter, simulated knife, taser.
"For example, I have confiscated a pellet gun that a student was taking to a friend's house for target practice after school; pretty innocent, but a dangerous item to have on a school campus nonetheless," he said. "Additionally, we had a BB gun that was in a student backpack left over from a weekend camping trip."
HUSD policy prohibits such items on school premises, including buses and at school events. The policy states, in part, "No student shall use or threaten to use a weapon or simulated weapon to disrupt any district activity.
No incidents occurred during the 2011-2012 school year. Two incidents involving an air soft gun and a BB gun, both on an elementary school site, took place in the 2012-2013 school year.
This past year, there were two incidents of simulated firearm, and one each of BB gun, pellet gun and taser or stun gun, all at elementary sites.
I cannot speak for all incidents, but I can say that in some cases the dangerous items category can be a little misleading, Streeter said.
School policy also states that any student who carries or possesses an actual firearm shall be placed in an alternative education program for a period of not less than one year, suspended for a period of not less than one year, or expelled and not be readmitted within a one-year period, if ever. The governing board, however, may modify the one-year duration on a case-by-case basis.
Streeter said discipline for possessing a dangerous item or simulated weapon can range from a short-term suspension to expulsion depending on aggravating and mitigating circumstances. Any incident of weapons or dangerous items must be reported to local law enforcement and ADE.
Because definitions in the past weren't consistent from school to school or district to district, the number and type of incidents reported were difficult to compare.
"I know reporting and recording sometimes varies from person to person, but I am guessing you are seeing pretty similar results from other districts and charters," Streeter said.