Utah schools take precautions to make education sa

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    By MARCUS BURTON

    Problems with guns in schools are as real in Utah Valley as anywhere in the nation, said Provo Police Officer Todd Grossgebauer.

    “Crime is not a misnomer here,” he said. “We still have crime here in Utah County.”

    Greg Hudnall, principal of Independence High School and director of youth and custody for Provo, has had experience with 12 gun-related incidents in the past three years. In the six years before that he experienced only one.

    “We are dealing with more problems here than ever before,” Hudnall said.

    Officer Grossgebauer has been appointed to Provo High School through a Provo School District program in cooperation with the Provo Police Department. Grossgebauer said he has not seen an increase of guns in the three years he has been with the school.

    Though some schools have not seen an increase in weapons, high schools are taking more precautions to make education safe. The police programs are one of those measures, he said.

    Jared Young, a freshman at Provo High School, said drugs are a much greater problem than guns or weapons.

    “I have never seen any guns in school,” Young said. “Most members of gangs I know prefer hand-to-hand fighting.”

    Richard Anderson, a senior at Timpanogos High School, said that although he has never seen guns on the school grounds, he has seen students with them in other places.

    Provo School District has a Safe School Policy that contains rules and guidelines describing in detail the possible punishments and actions needed to deal with problems associated with weapons in schools.

    In the Safe School Policy, weapons are defined as any object capable of causing death or serious bodily injury.

    According to the policy, there is a federal law that states a student who brings firearms onto public school property can be expelled for one year without opportunity to attend any other school in the state during that time.

    The schools take a hard-line approach to weapons. Rumors, possible suspicion or even mention of firearms, knives or any other weapon will be investigated immediately. The schools have the right to search lockers for any reason that may promote the safety of the students, Grossgebauer said.

    Although schools have the potential for a gun incident, he said that the schools are as prepared as they can be to handle any crisis that may arise.

    For those students caught with weapons in school, the punishment varies from case to case.

    “It’s not a black-and-white issue,” Hudnall said.

    Administrators try to find a punishment that would benefit the student in the long run. Each student’s case is evaluated to determine the reason for the crime and then correct measures are taken based on the evaluation, he said.

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