Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

SCHOOL WOES Student Weapons Policy Basis of Teacher Protest

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

SCHOOL WOES Student Weapons Policy Basis of Teacher Protest

Article excerpt

Angered by what they perceive as uneven enforcement of the

school district's zero-tolerance policy on weapons, Clay

County's teachers have called a public meeting for March 12 to

discuss the situation.

The teachers are concerned about school safety after a

Middleburg High School student was allowed to return to school

last month, a short time after his arrest for having three

weapons in his vehicle on school property.

"We want to stress the importance of zero-based tolerance," said

Nancy Green, president of the Clay County Education Association,

which represents 1,500 Clay teachers in negotiations with the

School Board.

The time and place of the meeting will be announced later.

Bringing weapons onto school grounds violates state law and is

an offense that could lead to a year-long expulsion.

This is the first gun offense this school year, according to

district records, down from 15 last year.

The Middleburg student missed 15 days of school, a penalty that

several educators said was "no more than a slap on the wrist."

Some School Board members, who maintain that they acted

responsibly, said the student made "a stupid mistake."

On Feb. 15, the five-member School Board voted 5-0 to allow the

student, Wilbur Freeman, to return to school. He was arrested

Jan. 24 and charged with possession of weapons -- a shotgun, a

handgun and a knife -- on school grounds, a felony.

He was suspended from school for 10 days and then spent five

days at the R.C. Bannerman Educational Center, an alternative

school for troubled teens.

School Superintendent Phyllis May met on Monday with Middleburg

teachers.

Aware that the meeting would be tense, May said she wanted to

meet with the school's faculty to address the matter.

"I went there because I felt the Middleburg High School faculty

deserved an explanation of all the facts from the source instead

of through the grapevine," the superintendent said. …

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