School Board Updates Policy Regarding Guns at Meetings
At Thursday night's meeting, the school board voted to update a policy regarding meetings at the Chancellor Center.
After discussing the lack of language restricting anyone from bringing a gun to the Chancellor Center, where board meetings are held, the Council Rock School Board voted to update local board procedures regarding meetings. However the new language does not specifically mention guns.
"I want the public to be clear. It is against the law to carry guns in our buildings," board member Patricia Sexton said. "That is what our solicitor tells us."
Though the language has been altered to clarify that the Chancellor Center is "a building of the Council Rock School District, [and] is covered by and subject to state laws generally applicable to the grounds and buildings of public school districts," it does not specifically mention banning weapons.
Guns are prohibited by state law at district schools, so it is implied that guns are also banned at district properties.
The language has not been changed to say that the building should be considered as a school, but some of the board members said it should be recognized as an educational institution. At Thursday night's meeting, many children were in attendance for a merit award presentation and the singing of the National Anthem. This is one reason why Sexton said the building should be covered by the same rules as a school.
Sexton said if someone wants to challenge that law by deliberately coming to the Chancellor Center with a gun, she expects that the administrators to take proper actions to call the police.
"Schools are special places like the capitol, like court," she added. "Our most precious people are in these buildings."
The change in language is a start, and some members hope to have additional conversations about this topic.
"It clears up how the board will move forward with the current ambiguity," Board member Bob Donnely said. Donnely joined the meeting via conference call. "This building will be treated with same kind as rules and regulations [as a school] though it is not a school.
Other members of the board said they wouldn't vote for the change in language, as it doesn't clarify the policy on whether guns can be permitted on the property.
"This provision doesn't make any difference whatsoever," board member Richard Abramson said. "I don't see the purpose of this."
Abramson was one of four members who voted against passing this motion, along with Bill Foster, Paul Anagnostakos and Jerold Grupp.
Members of the audience that spoke during public comment were not happy with amended language, agreeing with Abramson that it isn't any clearer.
"If we're expected by governments to follow laws, we have the right to know what those laws are," John Rasiej of Wrightstown said. "Where is any clarity about this? You are just wasting our time trying to get us to believe this is clear."
Furthermore, it was requested by board member Bernadette Heenan—who told the board in October that she felt unsafe at the meetings—that a sign be posted on the building stating that guns are prohibited.
Several members wondered if it was legal, and Heenan pointed out that Central Bucks has signage like this.
Solicitor Derek Reid said "It's absolutely legal to post it," but several board members didn't want to agree to post a sign without seeing what it would say.
It was not clear at the end of the meeting what step will be taken next.