KODIAK, Alaska — Twenty percent of high school students in Kodiak reported bringing a weapon to school within the last 30 days, according to an Alaska Department of Health study.
The students’ responses raised concerns during a school board meeting on Monday, the Kodiak Daily Mirror reported .
The Kodiak percentage was nearly double the statewide average of 10.2 percent.
School board chairman Robert Foy said the survey also raised concerns of marijuana use, hard drug use and a lack of parental involvement.
“Some of these things are kind of alarming,” Foy said.
School safety director Ron Bryant said he questions if the survey was too broad.
“If I have a utility knife in my car, I don’t consider it a weapon, but I might be answering yes to that question,” Bryant said. “And the kid may have to go work at Costco right after school.”
The anonymous study — conducted every two years — received a 78 percent response rate.
The Youth Risk Behavior Survey was created in 1990 by the Centers for Disease Control and is administered nationwide.
Tazlina Mannix, who helps administer the study through the Alaska Department of Health, said it’s administered in a controlled setting and students have no incentive to lie.
“What gives it its strength is it’s an anonymous survey, and we take student privacy very seriously,” Mannix said. “Students are separated from other students. Teachers are not supposed to walk around the room. The test is placed in a privacy envelope, sealed and sent back to us. There’s no way to trace responses by student.”
Bryant said the district would be looking closely at the matter and would make efforts to remedy it.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do to create a culture of safety,” he said.
Bryant said that over his four years as safety director at Kodiak High School, no suspensions or expulsions have resulted from weapons possession. But he said there have been cases in which a knife was found on school property.
Superintendent Larry LeDoux said the amount of weapons being brought on campus is worrisome.
“Have there been weapons in Kodiak High School? Probably, if you look at the statistics,” LeDoux said. “But they have no place in the school. If we hear even a hint of a rumor, we’re going to be all over it.”
Information from: Kodiak (Alaska) Daily Mirror, http://www.kodiakdailymirror.com