UPDATE: No discipline for Dubuque student suspended after BB gun - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UPDATE: No discipline for Dubuque student suspended after BB gun discovered in car

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The Dubuque Senior High School student suspended Wednesday for having an exposed BB gun lying in a car parked off, but near, school campus will not face disciplinary action, the district says.

On Friday, Dubuque Community School District Director of School and Community Relations Mike Cyze said following the district's investigation into the incident, officials will not discipline the student. Cyze said the one-day suspension that happened on Wednesday was never a disciplinary action; that's just standard procedure during an investigation. Nothing - not even the suspension - will go on the student's permanent record.

On Wednesday, the parent noticed what appeared to be a gun in a students car parked off campus. The parent called police who responded and confiscated what turned out to be a BB gun. The student was then suspended for the day while the district investigated.

Since reporting the story many have questioned why the extreme measures if the BB gun was parked in a car off school property. In an interview with KWWL, Lt. Scott Baxter with the Dubuque Police Department said he stands by the departments decisions.

"We've received multiple calls today from all over the country. The story is apparently gaining national attention in regard to how the school district handled it and how we handled it," Lt. Scott Baxter said Friday, "Student safety is the top priority for both of us, all the time. The school district acted within their policies and procedures and we acted within our policies and procedures, the Constitution in this case. We understand the second amendment and how important that is to people. We understand some of the concerns that people felt, maybe that we or the school over-stepped our boundaries, but we feel the exact opposite. We responded accordingly and with the top priority being student safety. We feel that in this case it could have been a potentially deadly situation. We have this individuals seen brandishing a weapon right across the street from a high school and within a few hundred feet of a college. So we have potentially 1,600 high school students and how many thousand college students in that immediate area. This gun looks realistic, we have no reason to believe it is not-real. Given what has happened in this country in the last 20-30 years with active killer situations, mass killings, we can't afford to treat these situations lightly, to fail to respond, and then have something happen. Regardless of how we responded it there are going to be critics, there are going to be people that question us as to how we responded and that's fine we are used to that. Our top priority again is keeping the community safe and especially students safe."

Lt. Scott Baxter also said their is a city ordinance in place which considers BB guns weapons.

"It's not necessarily illegal to possess them or to shoot them in some cases, but you have to fall within the ordinance guidelines and in this particular case that didn't happen," Lt. Baxter said.

Since the BB Gun is considered a weapon, Lt. Scott Baxter said the police department has the right to confiscate the weapon until the court case is completely processed.

Lt. Scott Baxter said the student will face a misdemeanor charge for possessing the weapon.

Lauren DeWitt contributed to this story.

Original Story:

A student at Dubuque Senior High School is suspended, following the discovery Wednesday of a BB gun in a student's car, which was parked off campus in a nearby neighborhood.

Dubuque Community School District director of school and community relations Mike Cyze said in a press release a parent noticed the BB pistol in the student's car and called police, who responded, located the student and confiscated the BB gun.

Cyze said there was never a threat to students or staff because the BB gun never left the student's car until police arrived and confiscated it.

"This incident is an important reminder that the school district and area law enforcement do not take the presence of these weapons lightly," Dubuque Senior High School principal Dan Johnson said to parents in an e-mail and voicemail that went out to all Dubuque Senior High School families this morning.

KWWL questioned why a student would be suspended if the car and BB gun were both off school property. Cyze provided the following clarification:

"This morning’s incident occurred adjacent to campus during arrival time while other students were present," Cyze said. "Police responded to the location of the vehicle as well as to Senior High School, at the time not knowing what, if any, threat may have existed. Given this, there was a significant disruption to the learning environment and having the student on campus would have continued that disruption throughout the day. It is the district’s practice to suspend students involved in similar instances while the investigation is conducted by police and administrators and the facts can be determined. Disciplinary action, if any, is determined based on the results of that investigation."

The message that went out to parents is in its entirety below, as sent out in a press release from the district:

Dear Senior Families,

I am writing to inform you that this morning, a BB pistol was found in a student’s car parked off campus in a neighborhood near Senior. A parent noticed it during arrival and called police, who immediately responded, located the student and confiscated the BB gun.

Most importantly, we want you to know that there was never a threat to students or staff and the BB gun was never removed from the car.

The student has been suspended and disciplinary action will be determined based on an investigation of the incident. Again, the BB gun was never removed from the car and was not displayed in a threatening manner.

This incident is an important reminder that the school district and area law enforcement do not take the presence of these weapons lightly. Police and school officials are trained to treat any item resembling a gun as real until proven otherwise.

Thank you for your continuous support in making our schools as safe as possible.


Dan Johnson
Principal, Dubuque Senior High School

As of Wednesday morning, Cyze said, the district is releasing no additional information.

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