The Ohio Supreme Court hears argument on Madison Local’s gun policy.

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The Ohio Supreme Court is set to rule on a challenge to the policy of a southwestern Ohio school district allowing certain staff to carry firearms on the grounds of the ‘school.

The question is whether Madison Local near Middleton in Butler County and others can set training requirements for personnel carrying firearms on school grounds, or whether those designated to do so must undergo peace officer training as described in state law.

Pleadings took place on Tuesday, less than a week after another court overturned Madison Local’s gun policy. In a ruling on Thursday, Butler County Common Pleas Judge Greg S. Stephens found school district officials had deliberated on gun policy in private, contrary to reunion laws. public authorities.

But the open meetings case did not address the issues before the judges, namely the training requirements for employees to carry firearms on school premises.

Judges question role of armed school staff

Two parts of state law are central to the case. One exempts designated school employees from potential criminal charges for carrying concealed firearms on school premises, provided that districts have adopted policies that allow it. A separate provision requires peace officer training for those who carry firearms in schools as part of their duties.

Lawyer Matthew Blickensderfer, representing the school district, said the formulation of the final section of state law focuses on dedicated security officers and other personnel, although Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor is be asked if this would include teachers in some districts.

“In many schools in Ohio, (an) armed algebra teacher provides on-site security,” she said. “… So how is this algebra teacher not described in this statute clause?”

Blickensderfer said: “In our opinion, the line that the General Assembly drew is between employees… whose duties (mainly) involve being armed and employees who are not but may be allowed to be armed. “

And Judge Sharon Kennedy said, “You are still a teacher, you are not a police officer, you are not a security officer. You are just a concealed license holder who is allowed to bring your firearm into the building.

Assistant Attorney General Kyser Blakely, participating in oral argument on behalf of Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost in support of the school district, said lawmakers drafted the law to leave decisions on training requirements to districts school, do not order the training of officers for teachers and other staff authorized to carry firearms.

Blakely added that training for peace officers includes sessions on vehicle accidents, domestic violence, human trafficking and other issues beyond gun safety.

“It would be really surprising if the General Assembly wanted school districts to allow teachers to carry firearms, but only if they became police officers,” Blakley said.

O’Connor said it wouldn’t be the first time lawmakers had passed a law that “needed a cleanup afterwards.”

Rachel Bloomekatz, representing the plaintiffs, said state law covers anyone armed in a school while on duty, not just security posts.

“The law, by its clear text, is not limited to only security posts or similar or full-time security posts …”, she declared. “It just says another post… in which such a person, this employee, is armed while on duty. “

Judge Patrick Fischer asked whether teachers and other school employees authorized by school boards to carry firearms were required (or had a duty) to do so.

And after

In 2018, the Madison Local School Board unanimously passed a new policy allowing a handful of staff to carry firearms on school grounds. The specified “approved volunteers” had to be district employees with valid permits to carry concealed firearms and have completed 24 hours of active marksmanship training, among other requirements, according to court documents.

The policy came after a school shooting in February 2016 in the district middle and high school cafeteria.

A group of parents subsequently filed a lawsuit, seeking a court order to require school employees carrying firearms to complete an approved basic training program for peace officers, governed by the Commission. Ohio Peace Officer Training Course.

The Butler County Common Plea Court sided with the school board and Superintendent Lisa Tuttle-Huff. An appeals court ruled that state law requires completion of state peace officer training.

It could be several months before the Ohio Supreme Court renders a decision in this case.

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