PORT ANGELES — If a new rule is approved in June, classroom pets no longer will be allowed in Port Angeles School District schools, a move that could send myriad rabbits, snakes and baby chicks home for good.
The board voted 4-1 to approve the rule this week in the first of two readings before the rule can be applied.
A final vote will be taken at the June 11 School Board meeting after the second reading.
“Why can’t we have a classroom gerbil?” School Board member Sarah Methner asked.
“It’s a varmint,” said Lonnie Linn, board vice president and a member of the committee that created the wording for the new rule change.
Methner was the lone director who voted against the change.
“It’s a nanny state gone wild,” she said.
The rule change was prompted by complaints against a few teachers, Superintendent Jane Pryne said.
“People were bringing dogs to school and letting them run in the hallways,” Pryne said.
It didn’t happen frequently, and the problem was limited to a few individuals, but it was a problem that had to stop for the safety of the students, she said.
What began as a dog problem quickly turned into a larger issue.
When the first draft of the new rule specifically addressing dogs was reviewed by the school district’s legal and insurance teams, it was made clear to the committee that almost any animal in the classroom is an unacceptable risk, Linn said.
The new district policy was driven by legal and insurance advice and requirements, he said.