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Written by Kristyn Halbig Ziehm   
Wednesday, 15 February 2017 20:07

Grafton School Board continues debate on state restrictions, but leans toward local control

The Grafton School Board took up the issue of guns in schools Monday, the second time in a month that members have considered opposing legislation that would restrict their ability to prohibit guns in schools.

The board did not take action, although members asked to have sample resolutions brought to their next meeting for consideration.

The issue came up last month at the behest of board member Julia McNally, who was absent then. However, her concern was echoed by a parent at that meeting.

“This policy endangers our children’s safety,” parent Tammy Flahive told the board Jan. 23. “This message is wrong for our community.

“I’m concerned about the risk of deadly accidents.”

That risk, Flahive said, outweighs any possible benefit from having someone armed and ready to take out an armed intruder.

There isn’t much training required for someone who seeks a concealed carry permit, she noted, increasing the potential risk to students.

The proposed legislation by State Sen. Mary Lazich of New Berlin and Rep. Rob Brooks of Saukville would change the law regarding the possession of firearms on school grounds by someone with a concealed carry permit.

The proposal allows districts to stop someone from bringing a firearm only into buildings where students are taught, Supt. Jeff Nelson said.

That means people with concealed carry permits could bring firearms to football games or basketball games played in fieldhouses that are not part of a school, he said.

Currently no one is allowed to bring a firearm onto school grounds, Nelson said. 

Nelson told the board Monday that a senior aide on Brooks’ staff has assured him neither Brooks nor any other legislator they know of intends to push the bill forward during this legislative session. 

But McNally said that doesn’t mean the board shouldn’t weigh in on the issue.

“The point in going forward with a resolution is to get in front of this,” she said.

McNally acknowledged that the board doesn’t typically approve resolutions trying to affect legislation, but added, “Personally, I think it’s time.”

Last month, fellow board member Clayton Riddle suggested the board oppose the legislation as an issue of local vs. state control, and McNally reiterated that in her argument Monday.

“If you look at the big picture, that’s what we’re talking about,” she said. “You need to draw a line in the sand.”

Riddle said last month, “I would think we would want to vehemently oppose anything that takes away local control. Whether it’s this issue or any other issue down the pike, we should fight everything that takes our local control away.

“The more control we keep here, the better.”

Several board members said they want to keep an eye on the legislation and perhaps move forward if it seems to be making headway, but McNally urged them to take more immediate action.

“What’s in the best interest of our students?” she asked.

The district’s current policy to not allow firearms in schools, adopted in 2008, is the best one for the district, McNally said.

Board member Jo Maehl, who said one constituent had called her to discuss the matter, agreed that the district shouldn’t wait to oppose the proposed legislation, and the board agreed to look at some sample resolutions for consideration.

Nelson noted that the board could oppose the legislation on several issues — among them the idea of allowing firearms on district property and the issue of local control.

 
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