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Decision Number
Nicole Law
Susan Lange
Schaller-Crestland Community School District
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Nicole Law is a 14 year old ninth grader at Schaller-Crestland High School. On the morning of November 13, 1995, Nicole admitted riding a school bus to school with a hand gun in her jeans' pocket. Nicole indicated that at the time she brought the gun to school she did not know if it was loaded. She indicated that the gun belonged to a male friend and she was going to return it to him at school. On the morning of November 13, 1995, Nicole waited for her friend in the parking lot but decided that he must have already "run away" so she started for the school building. That's when she encountered Curtis Faist who told her not to take the gun into the school. She then gave the gun to Curtis so he could put it in his car until the owner of the gun drove into the parking lot. At that time, Curtis gave him the gun and Curtis and Nicole went into the school. On November 14, the next day, Dennis Mozer, who is the principal of the high school, received information that there had been a handgun on school property. Nicole was the first student Mr. Mozer interviewed that morning and she admitted riding the school bus to school with the gun in her pocket.

The Superintendent referred to the District's weapons policy and recommended that Nicole be expelled for 12 months. Additionally, the Superintendent exercised his discretion to modify the expulsion requirement.

Appellant Lange argues that the weapons policy cannot be applied to Nicole because it was not part of the student/parent handbook. Although the District is normally bound to act in accordance with its duly adopted policies, and to give appropriate notice of those policies to the students, it is a well-settled legal proposition that "ignorance of the law is no excuse." State v. Clark, 346 N.W.2d 510 (Iowa 1984).

The Gun Free Schools Act and House File 528, ?23, constitute a unique usurpation of a local school district's control over the discipline of its students who bring weapons to school. Although these laws recognize the broad disciplinary authority historically conferred upon schools, that authority is reserved to the superintendent's ability to "modify the expulsion requirement on a case-by-case basis." Id. The expulsion requirement itself, however, is not optional. If a student is found to have brought or possessed a weapon at school, the student must be expelled. Iowa Code ?280.21B (Supp. 1995).

Therefore, even if Appellant Lange and her daughter, Nicole did not have actual knowledge of the consequences of bringing a weapon to school, that defense is inadequate here: "All persons are presumed to know the Law." Iowa Code ?701.6 (1995).

That the decision of the Schaller-Crestland Community School District's Board of Directors, made on November 28, 1995, was affirmed.