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School board divided over punishment for students caught with Tasers | #childsafety | #kids | #chldern | #parents | #schoolsafey


PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — The topic of Tasers, stun guns, and your child’s safety in school continues to create conversation among Palm Beach County education leaders.

Days after WPTV told you that one school board member wants to see state law changed about how the weapons are handled, others are pushing back.

This latest discussion centers on whether Palm Beach County School Board members want state lawmakers to help get more flexibility for how students are punished for having Tasers or stun guns on campus.

But board members don’t all see eye to eye.

A conversation about school safety at Wednesday’s Palm Beach County School Board meeting referenced our reporting earlier this week about a student arrested and expelled for having a three-inch stun gun in her backpack.

“It was for my walk home from school. I wouldn’t use it at school,” Palm Beach Lakes Community High School student Leeyah Brown told WPTV education reporter Stephanie Susskind.

WATCH: Palm Beach County girl bought stun gun for protection after school, then got expelled

‘I wasn’t safe’: Palm Beach County girl bought stun gun for protection after school, then got expelled

SPECIAL COVERAGE: Education

School board chair Frank Barbieri wants state law changed so students caught with those weapons are not automatically expelled.

But that didn’t sit well with everyone on the board.

“For me, I don’t think the answer is making the law more lenient for tasers. They are not the same as mace,” school board vice chair Karen Brill told WPTV on Thursday.

Brill and fellow board member Barbara McWuinn worry this is a slippery slope at a time when school safety is always top of mind.

“I’m afraid we are opening the door to more weapons on our campuses,” McQuinn said at Wednesday’s meeting.

One thing the board did agree on was they need to do a better job educating and communicating with parents and students that these devices are considered weapons.

The School District of Palm Beach County started deploying new signs on campuses that include a picture of a Taser.

WPTV

A sign showing prohibited items, including stun guns, at Atlantic Community High School in Delray Beach on Oct. 16, 2023.

RELATED: Are stun guns an issue on Treasure Coast school campuses?

“You made the comment that if a student brings a Taser to school, that it’s really on you all as a district,” Susskind said to Brill.

“It is,” Brill responded. “Students will bring weapons. I think where it’s on us is the student or the parent didn’t understand that it is a weapon.”

With a 3 to 2 vote, the school board ultimately moved forward with a plan to talk to state lawmakers about the issue.

“We’re not saying we want to be easy on crime or allow weapons into our school,” board member Erica Whitfield said at Wednesday’s meeting. “You would still probably get expelled. But to be able to make the decision is really what we are asking for.”

While knowing the message they really need to drive home.

“Parents and students need to know a Taser is a weapon,” Brill said. “And if a child or student brings it on campus, they will be expelled.”

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