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No HB 2 Connection In Rowan-Salisbury Pepper Spray Policy, Chairman Says

High school students in the Rowan-Salisbury district will be allowed to carry Mace or pepper spray, beginning this fall. The school board voted for that policy change in a meeting on Monday, but the reason for the change implied in previous media reports has been greatly exaggerated, according to school board chairman Josh Wagner.

During the meeting, board member Chuck Hughes said defensive sprays could be valuable tool for female students, and mentioned pending court rulings in what he called "the bathroom issues" - an apparent reference to HB2 and restroom access for transgender people. But board chairman Wagner says that wasn’t a consideration in the vote.

"No other board member addressed that comment, acknowledged it, had any discussion around it, and quite frankly we haven't had any discussion before that meeting or since that meeting regarding that, because I think it was just a passing comment made by one member."

Wagner says Monday’s discussion came up as part of ongoing reviews of school safety and other policy issues in the Rowan-Salisbury district. The chairman says board members initially intended to modify the student handbook to clarify that defensive sprays were not allowed on campus. But the board decided this week to allow the sprays after all.

"I think the board really was trying to look at it from the perspective of a parent of a high school student - perhaps particularly a female student who may be driving to and from school, who may be out by themselves at night after a school function, so we thought there certainly could be some safety benefit from allowing that," Wagner says.

The new policy takes effect in August.