ARREST A MATTER OF POLICY
Wheeler said the boy's arrest was made based on the school's "policy against carrying things like that on school grounds."
The Woodward Public School's policy manual states: "It is the policy of the Woodward Board of Education that possession of dangerous instruments or weapons on school property …. Dangerous instruments or weapons include, but are not limited to, firearms (guns), fire-works, explosives, knives, razors, clubs, chains, or other instruments used for assault or injury. … Students found to be in violation of this policy will be suspended and the police will be notified."
Merchant explained how that policy is enforced.
"If we have any type of suspicion (of a student having a weapon on school property), the student would be isolated and the school resource officer would be contacted immediately," the superintendent said, noting those actions "are just a safety protocol to protect other students."
The school resource officer, who is a Woodward Police Department officer assigned to handle incidents within the school district, will then conduct a search, Merchant said.
If a weapon is discovered, "then disciplinary measures are taken on a case by case basis."
"But very possibly an arrest could be made at that point and time," he said.
The school district would also take it's own disciplinary measures, which Merchant said, "generally speaking the automatic school discipline is some form of suspension."
However, the degree and length of suspension "depends on the type of weapon and the situation surrounding it," he said.
'"It could be for one day up to one calendar year," he said of how long the student could be suspended. As far as degree of suspension, he said the student may have to serve in-school suspension or be placed in alternative education setting or could face out-of-school suspension.
Merchant said he "couldn't discuss" what kind of suspension, if any, was given to the student in Monday's incident. He said he wasn't allowed to discuss specifics of the incident "because of confidentiality rules" under the federal Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
But while the level of discipline is decided on a case by case basis, Merchant said "when it comes to making those decisions, first and foremost thing that comes to mind is the safety of our students and our staff."
That is why he said the disciplinary decisions are made while "at all times supporting and standing for a zero tolerance policy when it does come to weapons at school."