LCSO, school district address weapons, violence at schools
Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter
In the midst of concerns about school safety, both nationwide and, more specifically in local schools, the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office and the Lyon County School district are implementing a zero tolerance stance on school violence and weapons on campus.
In a joint announcement issued April 12, the sheriff’s office and school district announced that effective immediately, all sheriff’s office personnel responding to incidents of violence, weapons or allegations of any such activity at LCSD schools, events, properties, or related areas will conduct proactive criminal investigations and pursue criminal charges to the fullest extent of the law.
“No fight, affray, battery, assault, unlawful assembly, rout and riot, possession of dangerous weapons, threats, possession of controlled substances/paraphernalia, disturbances of the peace, and/or disturbance of school will be tolerated or allowed to stand without criminal action taken by the Sheriff’s Office,” the statement reads.
A student was recently detained at Silverland Middle School for bringing a gun to campus, and another report that a student had a gun on campus at Silver Stage Middle School turned out to be unfounded. Several Fernley High School parents have also recently expressed concerns about fights at school.
At its March 28 meeting, the Lyon County School District Board of Trustees approved memorandums of understanding with the Sheriff’s Office and the Yerington Police Department to continue to provide School Resource Officers to Lyon County schools. The SRO’s will continue to be based at Fernley, Dayton, Silver Stage and Yerington high schools, and be available when needed at other district schools, including Smith Valley.
At the same meeting, the Trustees declined to act on a suggested agenda item proposed by Trustee Sherry Parsons to install metal detectors at Silverland Middle School.
In presenting her request, Parsons said recent school shootings and other violence across the country are having negative impacts on the mental health of students. She said she had reached out to the Washoe County School District to get information on their use of portable metal detectors.
Sheriff Brad Pope said metal detectors were recently installed in the Lyon County Justice Complex at a cost of abut $25,000, but said the salary of the person contracted to man the stations costs about $75,000. But he said schools are different than the courthouse, because there isn’t a single point of entry.
“I’m not necessarily a fan of metal detectors, but I’m not a subject expert,” Pope said. “But they can be defeated.”
Superintendent Wayne Workman agreed, saying metal detectors are only useful if a person walks through the metal detector carrying a gun.
“We’ve got to be cognizant of what they actually do,” Workman said. “I don’t think they do what we need to do.”
In their joint statement, the Sheriff’s office and school district said LCSO School Resource Officers, school administrators, teachers, and other school staff will be diligently identifying, reporting, and stopping further acts as described above.
“In addition to the criminal liability incurred by students participating in these behaviors, school administrators will issue discipline to the fullest extent allowed by law and according to LCSD Board Policy JG: Policy on Student Discipline,” the statement reads.
LCSD administrators and teachers will be educating students age 11 and older regarding the state laws related to school violence, the possible consequences, and the implementation of the zero tolerance stance in coordination with local law enforcement. Students will be educated on this topic during advisory and homeroom class as applicable during the next few weeks.
The Lyon County Sheriff’s Office and area law enforcement officials will be conducting additional proactive patrols and walk-throughs periodically at our schools for the remainder of the school year.
Anyone with questions or concerns is encouraged to contact their child’s school or local Sheriff’s Office substation.