Some major school districts in Maryland have experienced hundreds of suspensions for weapons in recent years, the News4 I-Team learned.
Documents reviewed by the I-Team show Maryland public schools issued more than 1,000 suspensions against students who violated “weapons” policy on school grounds in the 2011-2012 school year, including 220 in Montgomery County and 164 in Prince George’s County.
School security records filed by Maryland school districts show increases in the number of “weapons”-related suspensions in Montgomery and Frederick counties from year-to-year, increases of nearly 50 percent in each case.
State law prohibits the carrying of guns and knives on school grounds. There are also prohibitions against “lookalike” weapons.
In Frederick County schools, 69 suspensions were issued against students who violated “weapons” rules in 2012-13.
School spokesman Michael Doerrer said, “When we get word of a potential safety issue, we act on it immediately. We also work closely and collaboratively throughout the year with law enforcement partners to enhance school safety.”
Spokesmen for Montgomery County and Anne Arundel County schools, which records show issued 159 “weapons”-related suspensions in 2011-2012, said their staffs have increased awareness of the danger of weapons on school grounds. Montgomery County, Anne Arundel County, Prince George’s County and Frederick County schools all report overall decreases in the number of total student suspensions, including those unrelated to weapons.
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Montgomery County Public Schools superintendent Joshua Starr said strict security is in place for students when return to school Monday. Starr said, “We put some new measures in place. We’re always drilling. We’re always practicing. You can prepare, but you can’t predict.”
The data was compiled through a review of the Maryland State Department of Education’s report on “Maryland Public Schools Suspensions by School and Major Offense Category Out-of-School Suspensions and Expulsions 2011-2012.”