The State Board of Education voted Thursday to adopt a new policy regarding weapons on campuses, eliminating an existing one that was not in line with state law. 

In 1990, the board created a policy which prohibited weapons in schools, except in the possession of law enforcement officials. The policy also allowed districts to create additional rules about weapons in their district. But in 2012, when state lawmakers passed an enhanced carry law that allowed enhanced permit holders to carry weapons on school campuses, the board never updated its policy.

The board voted in July to adopt a temporary rule change to address this issue, and after receiving and reviewing public comment, the board made its temporary change permanent on Thursday. The new policy reads “each local school district shall have a policy concerning weapons on school premises.”

In the July meeting, the Mississippi Department of Education’s (MDE) general counsel referenced an attorney general opinion from 2013, which clarifies that possessing a gun on school property is a felony according to Mississippi law unless one possesses an enhanced concealed carry permit. 

The opinion elaborates that people with enhanced concealed carry permits are allowed in the “public areas of a school,” but specifies that “school districts may bar persons, including persons with enhanced carry permits, from areas of the school to which the general public is not allowed.” 

In July and in Thursday’s press release, MDE recommended that local school boards consult with their board attorneys regarding revisions. 

On Thursday, state officials highlighted the new Mississippi School Safety Alliance, which is working to evaluate and revise current state laws, state board policies, protocols, and best practices relating to weapons and other school safety concerns. The alliance is a collaboration between MDE and the Department of Public Safety. 

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Julia, a Louisiana native, covers K-12 education. She previously served as an investigative intern with Mississippi Today helping cover the welfare scandal. She is a 2021 graduate of the University of Mississippi, where she studied journalism and public policy and was a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. She has also been published in The New York Times and the Clarion-Ledger.