Berkeley High School's Response to Firearms

By Dan McMenamin (BCN)
Thursday March 24, 2011 - 08:52:00 AM

School officials are taking several steps to address two separate incidents Tuesday involving firearms on the Berkeley High School campus.  

Two students were arrested Tuesday morning after a gun they brought to the school went off in a bathroom, and a third was arrested a short time later for having an unloaded handgun, school officials said.  

In a letter sent to parents and the community later that day, Berkeley Unified School District Superintendent William Huyett outlined the district's plans in response to the incidents.  

A special school board meeting is being held March 30 at 7:30 p.m. to discuss student safety, and a parent forum is being held Monday at 6:30 p.m. at the school's Little Theater.  

Berkeley High School principal Pasquale Scuderi is also holding a school-wide faculty meeting this week to discuss the incident and review school safety procedures.  

Administrators and other school staff will be meeting with students on campus this week to talk about the consequences and dangers of weapons on campus, and discuss why students are bringing firearms to school. 

An anonymous tip line to report weapons on campus has been set up at (866) SPEAK UP, and a text message option will be added soon. 

Two additional safety officers will be working at the school until spring break starts April 2, and they may remain on the campus after the break if warranted. 

As required by state law, the three students, ages 16 and 17, who were arrested will face mandatory expulsion, school officials said. 

No one was injured in either incident. 

In the first case, the gun went off in a bathroom near some portable classrooms on the southeast side of the campus. The bullet went through the wall out toward the street, away from the direction of the classrooms. 

A custodian heard the gunshot and saw the students leaving the bathroom. They were apprehended after a brief search, during which the campus was locked down, school officials said. 

During the lockdown, authorities received an anonymous tip that another student on campus might have a handgun. 

Two safety officers escorted the student from class, and found an unloaded handgun when they searched him, officials said. 

The incidents marked the third time in three months that police have responded to guns on the Berkeley High School campus. 

In an e-mail to parents, Scuderi said Tuesday that "the anxiety this brings to you all is certainly not lost on me and we are more than aware that a third incident of this type warrants a deeper and more comprehensive response to these types of issues and a wider community discussion."