Education

QPS superintendent asks for amended policy on drone use on district property

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Oct. 10, 2017 10:20 pm

QUINCY -- Quincy Superintendent Roy Webb wants a more comprehensive policy on the use of drones on school property.

District policy already requires students to have permission from Webb to fly drones on campus, and Webb told the Policy Committee on Tuesday that he wants to extend that requirement to the community.

"It's going to become more and more popular to fly drones. What about graduation when eight different people want to fly drones and you've got all those drones buzzing over a graduation ceremony or a football game where you've got people trying to shoot camera angles?" Webb said. "Even one drone could interfere with a game or event."

Webb said the School District needs to have authority over its airspace before there are issues at public events.

"I can just see these problems occurring," he said. "Right now there are all kinds of video cameras in the stadium, which don't interfere, but once three or four parents try to position a drone over a graduation event -- which is going to occur sometime."

Flying a drone over a stadium during a game already violates Federal Aviation Administration safety guidelines, committee member Alan Nichols said.

"From a legal perspective, in our airspace of which we have control, we can be more stringent than the FAA with a simple policy that says no drones without the express permission of the superintendent," School Board attorney Dennis Gorman said.

"That's the authority I'm looking for," Webb said.

A two-sentence policy can address the issue, Gorman said, then the district can develop administrative procedures to enforce the policy drawing from the FAA guidelines.

Also Tuesday, committee members reviewed the student section of the district policy manual.

One policy concerning drug testing triggered committee discussion because the district does not "maintain" testing for students. The committee favored changing the policy language to say the district "may maintain" drug testing.

School resource officers can do a breath test or search a student believed to be under the influence of drugs, but "we don't take blood or urine samples of kids," Webb said.

Webb favors a drug-testing policy because "it gives kids another reason to say no" to drugs to avoid testing positive, but the current practice "is no deterrent. The kids know we're not testing right now."

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