Despite ongoing concern surrounding school security, the number of weapons brought onto Beaufort County School District campuses has noticeably dropped in recent years.
During the 2017-18 school year, at least one weapon was confiscated at about 80 percent — or all but three — of middle and high schools within the district, according to annual reports generated by school resource officers.
The district defines a weapon as “any item capable of inflicting injury or harm,” including firearms, knives, razors, metal knuckles or batons and blackjacks.
At Robert Smalls International Academy, students brought weapons to school on five separate occasions last year — the highest number of any middle or high school in the district.
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Three weapons were brought to Battery Creek High, Beaufort Middle and Lady’s Island Middle schools, the report said.
Two weapons were brought to Hilton Head High and one was brought to Whale Branch Middle, Bluffton High, Bluffton Middle, Beaufort Middle, H.E. McCkacken and May River High schools, according to the reports.
No weapons were confiscated from River Ridge Academy, Whale Branch Early College High School or Hilton Head Middle School last year, the reports said.
The number of weapons found on Beaufort County school campuses has declined 37 percent over the past five years.
For instance, nine weapons were found at Lady’s Island Middle School during the 2013-14 school year — three times more than were reported last year.
At Bluffton High School, five weapons were uncovered during the 2013-14 school year but only one weapon was found last year.
David Grissom, the district’s coordinator of protective services, said he thinks a key to the decline is the “See Something, Say Something” app, which was installed on all student iPads in 2014.
The app allows students to report bullying and harassment incidents, school threats and any other concerns to administrators.
During the 2017-18 school year, more than 1,000 tips were sent through the app, according to the district.
“I think the word is getting out that if you bring these things to school, there’s going to be consequences,” Grissom said.
Punishment for bringing a weapon to school varies depending on the type.
As defined by the federal Gun-Free Schools Act, any student who brings a gun to school is subject to expulsion for no less than one calendar year.
Students who bring in other weapons, such as a knife with blade more than 2 inches long, BB gun, paint ball gun, razor or metal knuckles, face up to 10 days of out of school suspension with a recommendation for expulsion or an assignment to an alternative school, according to the district’s Code of Student Conduct.