Scare at Northside in Benson; school continues as "usual"

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by Reed Anfinson, Editor

School is going on as usual this afternoon in Benson, though the morning hours were filled with tension in the community as word spread that the Northside Elementary could be in lock down mode.
Shortly after 8 a.m. Tuesday, the Benson Police Department and the Swift County Sheriff’s Department received a call from Benson Public Schools reporting that a weapon had been brought to the school.
 A kindergarten student brought the firearm to school, Sheriff John Holtz stated in a news release late this morning.  Other students became aware of the firearm and immediately notified a teacher, he said.
  “The firearm was immediately seized and taken control of by staff and no child was harmed,” he stated in news release late Tuesday morning. “The Benson Public School system and Swift County Law Enforcement would like to assure parents that there was no intent by the child to cause harm and that everyone is safe,” he said.
  “The crisis plan was followed and all proper authorities were alerted.  Safety is our foremost concern and we continue to review our crisis plan as an ongoing process.  We take this incident very seriously.”
The District 777 weapons policy states:
  No student or nonstudent, including adults and visitors, shall possess, use or distribute a weapon when in a school location except as provided in this policy.
 The school district will act to enforce this policy and to discipline or take appropriate action against any student, teacher, administrator, school employee, volunteer, or member of the public who  violate s this policy.
   Consequences for student weapon possession/use/distribution
A. The school district takes a position of “ Zero Tolerance” in regard to the possession, use or distribution of weapons by students.
 Consequently, the minimum consequence for students possessing, using or distributing weapons shall include:
1. Immediate out - of - school suspension;
2. Confiscation of the weapon;
3. Immediate notification of police;
4. Parent or guardian notification; and
5. Recommendation to the superintendent of dismissal for a period of time not to exceed one year.
 B. Pursuant to Minnesota law, a student who brings a firearm, as defined by federal law, to school will be expelled for at least one year.
 The school board may modify this requirement on a case - by - case basis.
 C. Administrative Discretion
While the school district takes a “Zero Tolerance” position on the possession, use or distribution of weapons by students, the superintendent may use discretion in determining whether, under the circumstances, a course of action other than the minimum consequences specified above is warranted. If so, other appropriate action may be taken, including consideration of a recommendation for lesser discipline.

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