BRADENTON -- A 17-year-old Manatee High School student who brought a BB gun to school in September will be "alternatively placed" -- less serious than a formal expulsion -- for the remainder of the 2015-16 academic year, pending final approval from the Manatee County School Board.
The senior has been suspended from school since the Sept. 21 incident, when he reached into his backpack for a binder and the BB gun fell out.
When questioned, the student admitted to bringing the 15-shot Daisy Powerline Model 5501, .177-caliber, C02-powered BB gun to school despite knowing the gun was not allowed on campus.
The Bradenton Police Department charged the student with a third-degree felony.
The Manatee County School District suspended him pending further action.
On Tuesday, the school board is set to approve "alternatively placing" the student for the remainder of the 2015-16 school year. The final order will allow the student to enroll in online courses to finish obtaining his high school diploma and, if the student's online work meets graduation requirements, the board will allow the student to participate in graduation at the high school.
Until then, the student is not allowed on the Manatee High School campus.
Under Florida statute, a BB gun qualifies as a weapon or firearm. Bringing one to campus results in "mandatory alternative placement or expulsion," according to the district code of conduct.
Alternative placement is considered a lesser punishment and keeps the student from having an expulsion on his record.
Typically, the board can choose from three options at an expulsion hearing: expulsion, expulsion with services or an alternative placement, said Wylene Herring-Cayasso, director of exceptional student education, student services, alternative programs and dropout prevention.
The board can also make other stipulations such as allowing the student to participate in graduation ceremonies.
"The board makes the final decision," she said.
In August, the school board also approved expelling two Palmetto High School students with services after an incident last spring where the students attacked the school principal.
The school board had only expelled one student between 2009-14. One student was expelled during the 2013-14 school year, according to the Florida Department of Education, which also tracks disciplinary actions taken by school districts. In 2013-14, when Manatee County expelled one student, a total of 845 students were expelled across the state of Florida.
Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter@MeghinDelaney.