“[The student] thought he was going to bring it to school to show his buddies, and once he got there, he had second thoughts. He mentioned to someone that he had it, and that student told a teacher, who told the principal,” Dr. Hinesley, Cartersville City School District superintendent, said.
“The incident happened towards the end of the day, as I understand it. The school’s administration dealt with the situation in accordance to the school board policy. Where we did make a mistake, and we acknowledge that, is that we should have notified the police about the situation and the gun. We dealt with it the way we do every tribunal where there’s a weapon. We took it and put it in a safe place. We kept it because you need it for evidence at the tribunal and you also need it for evidence in case they appeal the decision. Once the time period ended for the opportunity to appeal, we turned the gun over. We should have given it the police on the front end of the situation and not the back end. It was in a safe secure place, but we should’ve given it to the police and let them give it back to us if we needed it. That will not happen again,” Hinesley said.
Policy requires that any student who commits a flagrant violation of school rules is recommended for expulsion at a tribunal. The hearing is presided over by a panel chosen by the school board in January. Possible reasons for a tribunal are continuous behavior problems, selling drugs at school, bringing a weapon or hitting a teacher, Hinesley said.
“The panel hears the evidence and the student may have a lawyer present. The student can opt out of the tribunal process if they sign a waiver and automatically accept the expulsion. Depending on the age of the student and the circumstances and the violation they may be eligible to go to an alternative school.”
The student, who was expelled for one calendar year, attended the tribunal on May 1.
After a call from a parent questioning the decision not to inform them of the situation, Ken Clouse, assistant superintendent of Cartersville City Schools, explained there is no school policy regarding notifying parents.
“Fortunately, we don’t have many of these at all that come up. To my knowledge, the student did not have it out. It was not loaded. It was wrong and certainly illegal. We did discuss whether to put a call out to parents, but we decided not to,” Clouse said.
“I hesitate to generalize on the circumstance because we leave it up to the principals to use their judgement on these circumstances,” Hinesley said. “Mr. [Jeff] Hogan is an experienced administrator and has lots of years of experience. And, according to his judgement and based on the way he found out about the gun, he handled it this particular way. There is no question that a gun should be taken very seriously, as should any weapon. You can rest assured that our administrators know what to do under these circumstances and we deal with it in training and discussing these types of situations.”
The student and parents have a 20-day period after the tribunal to appeal to the State Board of Education. Once the 20-day waiting period concluded, Clouse sought out advice from the school resource officer on how to return the gun to its rightful owner.
According to an article in the Daily Tribune News, the gun was found to be one of 36 firearms stolen from a licensed dealer in Ashburn. The firearm was identified as a Bryco Arms Jennings 9mm pistol.
— Jason Lowery also contributed to this article.