By Ava-joye Burnett
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A day after police say they found a student with a loaded gun at “ConneXions” a community arts school in North Baltimore, WJZ is learning more about how officials learned that the student had a weapon.
According to a letter that was sent home to families and signed by the school’s principal, the student was arrested after posts were found on social media. The letter also said other students reported information about the handgun and that prompted an administrative search of the student.
Officials say during the search, the weapon along with drugs were found.
WJZ spoke with the union president for city school police and reporter Ava-joye Burnett asked: why do students have guns in schools?
“That’s a million-dollar question,” said Sgt. Clyde Boatwright, the Local President of Baltimore School Police Union. “We see some of our juveniles involved in these very serious and high profile incidents city-wide and with their involvement in these incidents in some cases there could be some possible retaliation – in some cases they could be the aggressor we don’t know. But we know a lot of times when we see young people carrying weapons, they are doing it to protect themselves, not necessarily to use it in school.”
The unidentified student was taken into custody without incident and because they are a minor, there is no public access to details on charges. However, under Maryland law, the student has a minimum of at least one year of expulsion.
A portion of a letter from the principal said “We are thankful to those students that reported the weapon. We all play critical roles in keeping our school safe, and this is an excellent example of how that partnership works.”
Connexions is an arts school in the Mondawmin community, and it’s connected to another school, Bard High School Early College Baltimore, which is in the same complex. The parents in the other school were not notified of the weapon, because the issue technically only involved ConneXions.
WJZ spoke with an aunt as she picked up her niece from Bard High School and she said that the school community should have also been notified.
“It’s not proper communication at all. They should’ve informed us and let us know something like that occurred. So disappointed. If you didn’t say anything, I wouldn’t know,” she said.
With Baltimore’s concerning levels of crime, Sgt. Boatwright said problems in communities where students live sometimes, unfortunately, show up inside school buildings.
School is a safe haven and that is what our task is to provide safety every day,” Sgt. Boatwright said. “I do feel as though an armed police officer serves as a deterrent.”
This is a statement that’s been part of the department’s long-standing push to allow Baltimore City school resource officers to be armed. Sgt. Boatwright said the city is the only jurisdiction in the state where school police officers are not allowed to have guns on school property.
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