Troy Schools Board tables weapons policy

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The Troy Schools Board of Trustees discussed a policy which would affect who could possess weapons on school grounds for purposes of education, hunter safety or school safety, during their final meeting of the school year on Monday, June 11.

The policy that was up for a first reading would outline a method by which an individual could approach the school board for specific permission to have a weapon on school grounds, whether for instructive or for defensive purposes.

Under state law, the trustees are able to grant advance permission to “persons or entities” to possess, carry or store any type of firearm in a school building.

Under the policy, the devices that would require that permission are not limited to firearms. Permission from the school board is also required for any weapon — with starter guns explicitly named — designed to “expel a projectile by the action of an explosive,” the individual parts such as the frame or receiver of a weapon, devices designed to muffle the report of a firearm, and explosive devices of any sort.

Specific requirements for applying to the trustees to possess a weapon include proof of completed weapon training, documentation of a clean criminal background check and a concealed weapon license valid in Montana.

Submission of that would only serve to secure an individual a place on the board’s agenda to be heard, and not guarantee approval under the policy.

Any submission and documentation would be considered public documents, and the board would have discretion to set the term of any permission granted as they see fit.

The trustees would reserve the right to revoke permission at any time, and after the time period expired, a new vote would be required to renew any permission granted.

The policy is one that was drafted by Joe Brott, Director of Policy Services at the Montana School Boards Association, said Troy Schools Superintendent Jacob Francom.

Board Chairman Craig Pierce questioned if there would be any requirement for a psychological evaluation.

Francom said that it was not outlined in the policy, but the trustees could make any requirement they desired. The concept from the school board association was to provide a framework for schools to work from.

“I think it would satisfy some concerns that we’re open to reviewing — that doesn’t mean we have to,” said Trustee Janis Fontaine.

Though Trustee David Orr made a motion to accept the first reading of the policy — which would not bring it into effect, but only permit the process to move forward — the motion died without a second.

Trustee Lori Damon said she would like to see a requirement for a psychological evaluation and a specific level of training.

Francom said that the board could add to the policy before a second reading.

Pierce advised the board that they could look at the policy Whitefish recently adopted for ideas.

After discussion, Fontaine said she was concerned that the application would be available to anyone, and suggested the board table the policy until they could look into the concept further.

Francom also informed the board that the school’s safety committee has discussed working out a memorandum of understanding with local law enforcement agencies. The idea would be to allow staff members who wish to carry at the school to first become reserve officers.

The idea has been floated to the Troy Police Department, but no discussion has occurred between the department and the school, Francom said. Any such memorandum could be done with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department as well, though the Sheriff has not been approached about the subject.

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