An employee of Sunset Hill school has been fired for bringing a concealed handgun into the building on Monday, Lawrence school district officials said today, and the case has been turned over to District Attorney Charles Branson to determine whether misdemeanor charges will be filed.
School officials so far have not identified the employee, although district spokeswoman Julie Boyle said today that it was a "non-teaching staff member" who has since been terminated. The Lawrence Police Department also has not identified the person because no arrest was made at the time, police spokesman Sgt. Trent McKinley said.
Instead, McKinley said, the employee was escorted off the property and the case was referred to the district attorney's office. Officials in Branson's office said late this afternoon they had not yet received the report.
According to police and school district officials, an employee at Sunset Hill first reported to the school district late Friday afternoon that another employee had brought a weapon to the school. David Cunningham, the district's human resources director, then relayed the report to the Lawrence Police Department.
By that time, however, the school had already closed and employees had gone home for the day. So Cunningham arranged with an officer to meet at the school around 8 a.m. Monday morning to investigate when the employee was scheduled to return to work.
McKinley said when officers arrived the employee was cooperative, and it did not appear the employee intended to use the weapon to cause harm. Police identified the weapon as a black Taurus .380 handgun, valued at $350.
McKinley also said the employee had a valid permit to carry a concealed weapon. The Lawrence school district, however, does not allow anyone other than law enforcement officers to carry weapons onto school property or to school-sponsored events, regardless of whether the person has a valid permit.
The Kansas Legislature passed a bill this year that expands the state's concealed-carry law by requiring most government-owned buildings to allow people with valid permits to carry concealed weapons into them unless the building has other security measures to prevent anyone from bringing a weapon inside.
Public schools are exempt from the law, although school districts may opt to allow concealed carry in their buildings. The Lawrence school board, however, has not changed its longstanding policy banning weapons on school property or at school-sponsored events.
In fact, in an unrelated move, the school board voted Monday night to expand that ban by prohibiting employees from storing weapons in their personal vehicles when parked on school property, or from transporting students in a personal vehicle where a weapon is stored.
That change was part of a package of updates and amendments to the board's policy manual that officials had been working on for weeks before the incident at Sunset Hill. They were intended to reflect recent changes in state law. Monday's action, which was part of the board's consent agenda, was unrelated to the incident at Sunset Hill earlier in the day.