HAWARDEN—A student faces disciplinary action after allegedly bringing a gun to West Sioux High School in Hawarden on Tuesday morning, Oct. 23.
The unidentified student and the weapon, a BB gun, were quickly secured, according to school authorities and the Hawarden Police Department.
“Safety for the students and staff is paramount in incidents like these,” said Hawarden police chief Corey Utech. “At no time, was anyone harmed or put in harm’s way because of the trainings and procedures that are in place by the school.”
No threats or intent to commit any crimes were identified in this investigation. Therefore, no criminal charges have been filed by police and none are expected to be filed, Utech wrote.
Disciplinary actions will be handled by West Sioux School District superintendent Ryan Kramer. Such actions range from suspension to expulsion.
“The BB gun is a unique one, it is not necessarily a look-alike it is classified as a BB gun, anything associated with the word gun is a serious situation,” Kramer said. “Especially involving school, it goes with a lot of concern.”
He said high school/ middle school principal Heidi Vasquez initially received the report.
“Anytime, we have a serious situation like that, where a student reports any suspicious or any suspicions themselves, we certainly are investigating it immediately,” Kramer said. “That is what happened in this situation. The student told Mrs. Vasquez and she immediately went into the preparation of the policy which is to work with law enforcement to make sure we handle the situation in a way that keeps everyone safe, working through the incident with priority in safety for all involved, taking action to investigate as well as taking action to make sure the student is safe and in a secure area.”
From that point on, law enforcement took control of the investigation. Once the law enforcement and school were in conjunction with making sure the safety of all involved was handled, the policies of the school were implemented to see where it goes.
“One of the things that we did, once we had an assessment of the situation and notified staff,” Kramer said. “First, we let them know that everyone was safe in the building, then we worked with law enforcement on how we are going to communicate this out to our public.”
Kramer is on the road with students of West Sioux FFA on the way to the national convention in Indianapolis, IN. He notified School board members and Vasquez informed the staff members.
“The staff was great; it was handled very well by all staff,” Kramer said. “We knew once we had that out we were going to communicate in conjunction with the law enforcement in putting out a press release.”
Communication between the Hawarden Police Department and the school is something Kramer said he was pleased with.
“Chief Utech was wonderful and helped Mrs. Vasquez greatly in making sure that protocol from the police perspective and our policy perspective was followed.”
West Sioux School District’s policy regarding weapons states “Weapons and other dangerous objects and look-alikes in school district facilities cause material and substantial disruption to the school environment or present a threat to the health and safety of students, employees and visitors on the school district premises or property within the jurisdiction of the school district.
“School district facilities are not an appropriate place for weapons, dangerous objects and look-alikes. Weapons and other dangerous objects and look-alikes will be taken from students and others who bring them onto the school district property or onto property within the jurisdiction of the school district or from students who are within the control of the school district.”
“Because of the swift response by West Sioux staff and other students, this situation was handled without incident,” Utech said.