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Weapons stolen from Harding teacher’s car could violate school policy

By Ed Runyan

Friday, November 2, 2018

VINDY EXCLUSIVE

By Ed Runyan

runyan@vindy.com

WARREN

A teacher working late at Warren G. Harding High School discovered about 8 p.m. Tuesday that several valuable items were stolen from his vehicle in the parking lot.

But that may not be the end of his problems. He could be looking at disciplinary action for what was taken: a handgun, ammunition and backpack with a machete, flashlights, two knives and ship-to-shore radio.

A school maintenance employee advised two teachers that damage had been done to their cars. When the teachers got there, they saw that a chunk of asphalt may have been used to break some windows.

The gun, ammo, knives and other items were taken from one teacher’s Jeep Wrangler.

The other teacher’s car was damaged but nothing was taken.

Virginia Shank, Warren City Schools spokeswoman, said the school district “does have a weapons policy” and is investigating the matter.

When asked why the teacher had those weapons, she said Superintendent Steve Chiaro “is unable to elaborate due to the matter being under investigation.”

Capt. Jeff Cole, commander of the Warren Police Department’s patrol division, said because the teacher has a right to have those items in his car under Ohio law, the investigating officer would not have asked him why he had them.

An Ohio Attorney General’s Office manual says a person with a concealed-carry license “may have a concealed handgun in a school safety zone if you leave the handgun in the motor vehicle, the handgun does not leave the vehicle and, if you leave the vehicle, you lock the vehicle.”

It defines the school safety zone as being the school property line.

Warren schools’ “Guide to Positive Behavior,” however, says staff members and students alike are prohibited from having weapons on school grounds.

“Weapons of any kind are not permitted in a school safety zone,” the guide says.

“The board of education prohibits staff members, students and visitors from possessing, storing, making or using a weapon, including a concealed weapon, in a school safety zone,” it says.

“School safety zone is defined by Ohio law as a school, school building, school premises, school activity and any school bus.”

The school district guide says when a violation of the weapons policy is found, the superintendent or his designee “shall refer any violator to law enforcement officials, regardless of whether he/she possesses a valid concealed weapons license.”

Tuesday’s break-ins were the third ones in several days.

At 9:30 p.m. Monday, a woman reported that a window on her car parked on Panther Way near the school had been broken. Nothing had been stolen.

Two vehicles were damaged and items from inside one were stolen Saturday. A large rock was found nearby, Warren police reported.