What the law says about guns at Alabama schools and colleges

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(AL.com) — With numerous threats of harm being investigated in schools all across Alabama since the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida where 17 students and faculty were killed by a former student, AL.com has rounded up answers to questions being asked about guns and safety on Alabama's K-12 and community college campuses.

Parents and families are understandably concerned about whether their children are safe at school and what precautions schools are required to take.

Other parents are wondering if they keep their child home from school when a threat has been made against their child's school, will the absence will be excused.

The big question: is a gun ever allowed on a public K-12 or community college campus in Alabama? (Spoiler alert: no, not even with a concealed carry permit.)

Are guns allowed on Alabama's public school K-12 campuses?

No, with one exception: Sworn law enforcement officers are allowed to carry a gun onto a public K-12 school campus or into a school building.

No teachers or faculty or other staff are ever allowed to have a gun on public K-12 school property. Ever.

Are public K-12 schools required to have "code red" lockdown drills?

Yes. Two code red drills are required each school year, with one being held in the first six weeks of the fall semester and a second being held in the first six weeks of the spring semester. (Alabama State Department of Education Compliance Monitoring Manual, p. 72)

Will a student's absence be excused when a threat to their K-12 public school is discovered?

The answer: maybe.

That decision must be made by the local board of education, according to Alabama State Department of Education Communications Director Michael Sibley.

What K-12 superintendents were told last week

On Feb. 16, Alabama Interim Superintendent Ed Richardson sent a memo to all superintendents across the state laying out the rules regarding guns in schools.

In addition to containing what state law says, Richardson made three additional points:
First, students and school employees who violate the policy on guns may be disciplined.

Second, anyone other than a student or school employee who brings a gun on campus should be told they are in violation of the school's policy and asked to leave. "If they fail to leave the property on request," the memo states, "they may be subject to arrest for criminal trespass."

Third, schools should post notices "at all points of entry onto school property and into school buildings stating, 'FIREARMS PROHIBITED.'"

Are guns allowed on Alabama's community college campuses?

No, with one exception:

Law enforcement officers legally authorized to carry such weapons who are officially enrolled in classes or are acting in the performance of their duties or an instructional program in which firearms are required equipment.

More on this story at AL.com.