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School system adopts new policies
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The Dawson County Board of Education voted unanimously during its Monday night meeting to approve changes to the way the school system handles two long-standing operations.

The two existing policies addressed were the system's weapon policy and its internet use policy, specifically addressing newer technology.

"The weapons policy aligns with the new law on what the definition of a weapon is," said Dawson County school superintendent Damon Gibbs. "It moves the policy away from only weapon [classification] to weapons and hazardous objects."

The change allows previously-labeled weapons to be split into two categories - weapons, such as firearms and explosives-launching devices, and hazardous objects, such as guns, knives and non-lethal guns, such as airsoft guns and Tasers.

The policy also changes the strictness for punishment of those caught with hazardous objects.

"This new policy essential lends us more flexibility and lets us make good decisions," said Lisa Perry, assistant superintendent of personnel and support services. "The new policy places hazardous objects under both level three and four discipline action, based on whether or not the possession was malicious, mischievous or accidental."

According to the school guidelines, level three offenses are "serious acts of misconduct including, but not limited to, repeated misbehavior that is similar in nature, serious disruptions of the school environment, threats to health, safety, or property and other acts of serious misconduct."

These offenses are generally punished with up to three days of suspension and up to 15 days loss of other privileges, such as driving.

Level four offenses are "so serious that they may require use of outside agencies and/or law enforcement. Such acts may result in criminal penalties being imposed." These acts are generally met with the highest punishment, such as a one-year suspension from school activities.

"The other policy addressed was our ‘Internet Acceptable Use' policy," he said. "Both of these policy changes are just getting our policies in line with our practices."

This policy change allows personal electronics that "provide educational value when used for educational purposes, including content delivery and to enhance the learning process" allowed on campus and active in the classroom, according to the student handbook.

It also allows staff and students to connect to the schools' internet service with these devices "in a responsible and legal manner, subject to this acceptable use policy, in order to achieve educational objectives."

Both policies spent the required 30 days on the table before being voted on.