Schools set to develop concealed weapons policy
by Trudy De Angelis
The San Juan School District is developing a policy regarding the possession of concealed weapons by properly-licensed employees at school. The possible policy was discussed at the April 16 meeting of the San Juan School Board.
Board member Debbie Christiansen initiated the discussion, stating that Utah State Risk Management encourages the district to develop a policy and apprise employees and the public of the policy.
Superintendent Douglas Wright said, “My personal opinion is that we should have a policy that indicates that the use of a concealed weapon is not part of their scope and duty of employment.
“The Board does not need to take a stand on concealed weapons, but it is in the best interest of the District to have a policy.”
The board looked at the policy of several Utah districts and unanimously expressed a desire to establish a policy, but to be aware of both Utah and Navajo Nation law.
Risk Management suggested that districts without a concealed weapons policy may find themselves in a difficult situation should litigation occur.
The policy is likely to state that any employee with a concealed weapons permit is not authorized by the district to discharge the weapon. If they do so, it is not within the scope of their employment.
However, if a properly-licensed district employee follows policy and the school district is sued, Risk Management is likely to defend the school district.
No one, including parents, has the right to ask or know if a person has a concealed weapons permit.
Anyone with a concealed weapons permit must carry it “on their person” at all times and it must remain concealed.
If a school employee displays a weapon at school, purposely or inadvertently, it is no longer concealed, and they would be in violation of safe school policy.
In other matters at the April 16 board meeting, Dr. Wright reported on staffing for the coming school year.
While the state legislature modestly increased school funding, keeping up with the increased costs of retirement and health insurance is eliminating any gains.
District Business Manager Clayton Holt reports that state retirement costs are up 1.7 percent and the health insurance costs are expected to increase 18.5 percent.
Holt reports that the San Juan School District is in a self-funded insurance pool, with 98 percent of expenses related to paying providers while two percent is for processing claims.
Holt said health insurance rates are going up because people are going to the doctor more or the doctor is charging more. Over the past year, there is a 45 percent increase in outpatient services and a 26 percent increase in inpatient services by those in the program.
District administrators have met with faculty and staff to discuss the options.
Two ideas to control increased costs were mentioned. They include:
1. Keep current staffing levels at the schools without adding staff to the schools where enrollment is growing.
2. Where needed, bring a teacher on for current year even if it appears that there will be a requirement to drop that teacher after next year because of student reduction.
The schools in Monticello have experienced a decline in enrollment, with the high school dropping 23 students in the past year and the elementary school dropping 14 students. A retiring teacher at Monticello High will not be replaced.
Enrollment has grown in several schools, including 38 new students at Blanding Elementary School, 30 new students at Montezuma Creek Elementary School, 25 new students at Whitehorse High School, 18 new students at Monument Valley High School, and 16 new students at San Juan High School.