Education Policy Board creates rule regarding weapons in school

by Marissa Eusebio, KUAM News
Monday, March 22, 2004

Last week the story about an incident at J.Q. San Miguel involving a teacher and a gun shocked the community and resulted in the teacher being placed on administrative leave, the Department of Education was left empty-handed, in terms of identifying a policy that holds the teacher accountable for possessing a weapon on school grounds.

While the incident is still currently under investigation by the Guam Police Department, members of the Guam Education Policy Board have taken the situation into their hands by creating a policy that will hold teachers and staff responsible for bringing weapons to school.

Guam Education Policy Board members do not appear reluctant to move expeditiously in establishing a more definitive policy on weapon control. Board chair Romeo Hernandez says the GEPB plans amend current Board Policy 425 on dangerous weapons, telling KUAM News, “I would recommend to them that it may replace it and add ‘any persons.’ I believe that would cover any persons with the exception of police officers will not and shall not carry any firearm, dangerous weapon, tobacco, drugs...whatever they may have that governs the students behavior in schools.”

Hernandez explains that adopting policies is usually a lengthy process that includes having to go through a first, second and third reading file and afterwards is brought out to the stakeholders for review to see its effects. However in this case because of the need for an immediate solution, members have the option to address it sooner by suspending the policy adoption procedures, amending the current policy on dangerous weapons and voting on it by tomorrow.

“If we get the number of votes needed, of course we need five for any actions to take place within the board, then that would become policy immediately,” Hernandez said.

In the meantime, former Department of Education superintendent Senator Bob Klitzkie says he recalls only one occasion when he had to deal with a situation where a student brought a weapon to school. As a result, DOE enforced stricter regulations on students with weapons; however at no time did they ever consider the possibility of a teacher bringing a weapon to school. And while the Guam Education Policy Board has taken the situation into their hands, Senator Klitzkie feels that it is the superintendent's responsibility to address the issue rather than the Board.

Said the freshman policymaker, “I have no feelings about the board because I don't think it's the Board's call. I think it's the superintendent's call. It is an operational matter and something that the superintendent needs to address.”

Meanwhile, DOE spokesperson Gerry Cruz says that the superintendent's involvement in addressing the issue is limited to suggesting that the Board create a policy prohibiting teachers from possessing weapons on school grounds. Cruz said “if it's not in the rules and regulations, the board has to create the policy.”


More Articles in March 2004