Carmel schools could change policy to allow guns in vehicles
By Amanda Foust
Many school board policy changes were proposed at the June 9 school board meeting, the most striking of which was a change to the district’s weapons policy.
The policy prohibits students, staff and teachers from carrying guns on school grounds, but it will now allow them to keep weapons secure in vehicle trunks and glove boxes on school property as long as the weapon is out of sight.
Federal law has sought to prohibit guns on or around school property since the 1990s when the Gun-Free School Zones Act was passed.
But the district’s proposed policy change would bring the district in line with a new state law that was passed this year and which will go into effect July 1.
Gun advocates have said the law will remove the prospect of committing a felony for parents who have legal gun permits and have a weapon in their vehicle while they are picking up their children.
School Board Member Greg Phillips said, “We have no choice but to implement a mistake.”
The other school board members and superintendent Nicholas Wahl did not disagree.
In fact, board president Layla Spanenberg said, “We would prefer not to have any weapons on school property.”
But she said she was informed by the district’s lawyers that the board is prohibited by state law from enacting a policy that would ban weapons in all circumstances.
Most of Carmel’s Republican legislative officials (Rep. Steve Braun, Rep. Jerry Torr, Sen. Mike Delph and Sen. Scott Schneider) voted to approve the new state law with the exception of Republican State Sen. Luke Kenley.
“Gov. Mike Pence believes in the right to keep and bear arms and that this is a common sense reform of the law that accomplishes the goal of keeping parents and law-abiding citizens from being charged with a felony when they pick their kids up at school or go to cheer on the local basketball team,” the governor’s office said in a statement at the time of the bill’s signing.
However, the school board still needs to vote on the policy change at its next meeting on June 23.
Other policy change recommendations that the board will consider at that time include the following policies: parent involvement, college and university programs, educational options, guidance and counseling, home-bound instructional programs, reproductive health and family planning, restraint and seclusion, and wellness.
The policy change regarding teaching reproductive health and family planning garnered the most discussion at the June 9 meeting, but Spanenberg said it was needed to eliminate a redundancy between two existing policies.
Philips said that while he personally had concerns it could lead to abstinence-only education, that no one had suggested implementing such a change.