The Norfolk, Va. School Board has agreed to continue equipping civilian school security personnel with pepper spray at least until January, when it will discuss the issue again.

School security guards used spray three times between Oct. 19 and 26, intervening in middle school cafeteria fight, a student altercation, and a high schoolincident in which one student tried to attack another, says a Virginia Pilot Online report.

Pepper spray was used six times last year, 17 times in 2009-10 and 13 times in 2008-09, the report says.

A report to the board by the Department of Pupil Personnel argued that the weapon is a necessary last resort to quell student violence, protect pupils and help security guards avoid getting hurt while ending fights, the repor says.

The Virginia Center for School Safety discourages pepper spray, handcuffs and "force devices" by security guards because of liability risk to divisions. The agency gives divisions the discretion to decide which equipment their security personnel may carry.

Norfolk approved pepper spray for its school security officers in 1997 and reaffirmed that policy in 2004, says the report, adding that cchool security personnel get regular training that includes pepper spray.