HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Following an incident with a gun at McDonnell Elementary School (MES), the Huntsville City School Board of Education (BOE) discussed making significant changes to its disciplinary policy.
Options were discussed following an incident where a student accidentally fired a gun inside a bathroom at the school on October 25.
One board member opened the possibility of expelling an elementary student.
Outgoing Huntsville BOE member Elisa Ferrell is calling for the expulsion of an elementary student who got caught with a gun at school.
According to the Huntsville City Schools’ discipline policy guide, a student cannot be suspended for processing a gun on school grounds or firing a weapon.
Although no child was hurt in the incident, the comments by Ferrell sparked a debate among school board members about changing the current discipline policy. District 4 School Board member Ryan Renaud said an elementary student at that age bringing a gun to school is the negligence of a parent.
“It really does start just like any other disciplinary action starts and stops at home,” Renaud explained. “We can control as best we can discipline inside of the classroom while they are inside of that school building but what they bring into that building is a very difficult thing to manage.”
Ferrell says if a student endangers the life of others, then that student should face expulsion, or be kicked out, for no more than a year. But the current policy states that if a student brings a gun to school the weapon is confiscated, the parents are notified of the suspension, but the student will not be expelled. Renaud feels Ferrell’s suggestion is off base.
“I am eternally grateful for Ms. Ferrell who went out of her way with my onboarding into this position. But it does trouble me at times to hear individual people make comments or demands for the system when it may or may not reflect the overarching view of the system,” said Renaud.
Renaud says right now the plan is to stick with the ‘restorative panel meetings’ policy of discipline.
“I struggle where we try to make policy uniform across the board into a one size fits all because there’s absolutely nothing about public education that’s one size fits all. Certainly not regarding disciplinary action.”
Just months prior to the incident at McDonnell, a student at Sonnie Hereford Elementary also brought a gun to school and it accidentally discharged.
Huntsville Police Department is investigating how the student obtained the weapon.