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Cedarburg parents raise concerns over school gun policy

Policy author says changes are being considered.
Posted at 6:38 PM, May 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-27 19:38:09-04

CEDARBURG, Wis. — Some parents in the Cedarburg School District are concerned about the district's weapons policies.

Their concerns are heightened as the nation mourns the loss of 19 children and two adults who were killed by a gunman at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas this week.

The district has four separate weapons policies listed on their website - one for students, one for professional staff, one for support staff and one titled "property."

One of the authors of the policies claims the "property" policy is for volunteers, visitors and members of the public.

The student policy very explicitly bans all weapons from school district properties. But, the other policies have an exception to the rules.

Most notable is the property policy which reads in part, " The School Board prohibits staff members, students, and visitors from possessing, storing, making, or using a weapon in any setting that is under the control and supervision of the District for the purpose of school activities approved and authorized by the District including, but not limited to, property leased, owned, or contracted for by the District, a school-sponsored event, or in a District vehicle to the extent permitted by law."

The policy goes on to direct people to specific policies regarding staff members and students, but the very next line reads, "This prohibition does not apply to encased, unloaded firearms out of reach and out of view in a locked vehicle that is on any part of school grounds used as a parking facility."

It's that last line that causes concern and confusion among several parents who spoke with TMJ4 News on Friday. Each parent only agreed to share their concerns on the addition on anonymity. They say Cedarburg is a small, politically-tense town. Some parents shared concerns of retaliation from school board members and neighbors.

TMJ4 spoke with one Cedarburg School District parent via telephone. On the topic of the property weapons policy, she said, "So, that's not clear whether or not it would be permissible for students to bring an uncased, unloaded weapon hidden in their car."

The mother went on to say she has gone to the school board with concerns, as have others, and she was told that the exemption that allows visitors and staff to keep their guns in their cars on school grounds was compliant with Wisconsin state law.

Parents are now asking for the school board to change the policy.

"In my mind. there should be no exceptions except for the officers that are trained to carry their firearms," the parent said.

That mom went on to say that in the wake of the mass shooting at the Texas elementary school earlier this week, the time to change policy in Cedarburg is now.

"Absolutely, I think now is the only time it's going to get addressed because we know from history that if we wait we're going to forget, we're gonna move on and we're not going to revisit this policy until maybe something comes again," she said.

TMJ4 spent hours reaching out to school board members while reporting on this story, including board president Rick Leach, Vice President David Krier and member Hani Malek. None responded to our request for comment before deadline Friday.

The school board is one of 300 school boards in Wisconsin that works with Neola of Wisconsin to craft policies. Dr. Richard Zimman of Neola of Wisconsin did respond to TMJ4's request for clarification.

Zimman said that the part of the policy that reads, "encased, unloaded firearms out of reach and out of view in a locked vehicle that is on any part of school grounds used as a parking facility," is not in the student policy and does not apply to students.

He said that Cedarburg School Board members have reached out to Neola of Wisconsin to suggest a clarification be added to the policy to make clear that the property policy is "only about visitors, just as the student policy is only about students, and the staff policies are only about staff."

In an email, Zimman added, "Even though this has been sufficiently clear for nearly 300 other Wisconsin school districts using this policy, Neola always strives to make sure 100% of readers understand any policy, has welcomed the suggestion, and has this revision under advisement for an upcoming release."

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