SIOUX FALLS, SD -
You can almost see Kristi Egland's eyes sparkle when she talks about her kids.
"Oh! Well, they love reading and they love math and my first grader told me last night he wants to learn to read really, really big words," Egland said.
For now, her first grader and fourth grader have been taught a really, really important lesson.
"It was, 'Well, mom under what circumstance is it ok to have a weapon in school?' The answer was, 'There isn't one,'" Egland said.
District officials want more parent-student conversations like this after three weapons violations just this year. Sioux Falls Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Pam Homan sent out a strong warning to parents via email, text message and voice message reminding them there is a zero tolerance policy for weapons in schools.
On August 30th there was a report of an air soft gun at Roosevelt High School, as well as a knife in a backpack at Lincoln High School. On September 6th there was a BB gun in a backpack. There was a report of knife in a student's pocket at Joe Foss High School. These did not result in any serious incidents, but the response is no joke.
"One is too much. Having three the first few weeks of school encouraged us to get parents aware," Assistant Superintendent Sue Simons said.
According to school policy, and state law, a gun brought on school grounds, school event and even on the bus will get a student expelled for a mandatory 12 months. This also includes air guns and BB guns. It does not have to be a gun for it to be a weapons violation in Sioux Falls. However, other types of weapons are looked at on a case-by-case basis.
"A knife might result in a long-term suspension and that would depend upon how it was used and the circumstances behind it," Simons said.
This also includes mace and pepper spray. It does not matter if the student claims the weapon was left in a backpack and brought to school by accident. While she waited for her kids to get out of school at Robert Frost, Egland said this no-nonsense policy is a shining example to set for your kids.
"I don't think there's an excuse. If people are educated and they know the rules, everyone needs to follow them," Egland said.
Homan's message: This is Superintendent Pam Homan of the Sioux Falls School District. Please remember that students should never bring weapons of any kind to school. There is no tolerance for weapons on school property before, during or after the school day. This call is coming because, although no one has been hurt, we have already seen incidents this year of students bringing knives or guns including BB guns and air soft guns to school. These incidents have happened at several sites, not just one school. South Dakota law requires our School Board to expel a student from school for 12 months if they bring a weapon to school. It does not matter why the student brought the weapon, and air guns are included in the types of weapons that require an automatic expulsion. Our primary concern is your child’s safety. Please talk to your child and make sure that they never bring any type of weapon to school. Thank you for joining with us to keep all of our students safe.
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