Uinta County Herald | School district gives gun policy another chance


EVANSTON – The Uinta County No.1 School District Governing Board held a public hearing on the draft CKA rule, the district’s concealed transport policy, on Tuesday, March 30 – the most recent in a series of public hearings on the issue that took place each time. the district has gone through the process of adopting the policy. The current effort marks the third time the district has held public hearings on all of the policy, as very similar policies were passed in 2018 and 2019, only to be declared invalid – including by the Wyoming Supreme Court – for procedural reasons in multiple legal challenges.

Superintendent Ryan Thomas provided an update on the current process at the March 30 meeting and said the proposed rule meets or exceeds the requirements of WS 21-3-132, the enabling statute passed in the 2017 legislative session. Thomas said a committee of law enforcement officers had been consulted and weighed in on the proposed rule and said those advising officers said the rule’s firearms training requirements exceeded those required for their own certifications.

Thomas also shared information about what the initial training entails, calling it “rigorous,” and said there are details about the types of ammunition and firearms allowed that will not be shared publicly for. security reasons.

Board chair Jami Brackin said the board believes it is important to get community feedback on the proposed rule and she believes they have received good information and feedback in every period. public comments. Perhaps because there were several other public hearings on the matter, only four people spoke at the last hearing. Evanston High School student Aidan McGuire and Evanston resident Tim Beppler – one of the plaintiffs in lawsuits over previously enacted policies – have spoken out against the rule, while Deputy District Superintendent Doug Rigby and retired police officer Chris Brackin spoke in favor.

McGuire said he was “adamantly opposed” to the rule for several reasons, including cost. He said the district had spent tens of thousands of dollars defending the policy in court, money he said would be better spent elsewhere, especially as people who took legal action have indicated that they would perhaps continue to challenge the rule until a decision on constitutionality claims is finally reached. McGuire said the funds could instead be invested in resources and programs to potentially stop violent incidents before they start.

McGuire further said he attended the Friends of Rachel program and training at EHS last school year – a program created by a family who actually lost a loved one to a shooting in a school – and at no time did anyone advocate for the arming of teachers during this training.

He also referred to his own experience with recent high school armed intruder training, in which he said he and a classmate became “victims” of a school resource officer playing. the role of a shooter. McGuire said if there had been a real shooting he didn’t think an armed teacher in that class would have changed the outcome at all.

Finally, McGuire said that, unlike some comments made in previous hearings on the matter, he doesn’t think the school board’s job is to defend the rights of the Second Amendment, but rather to focus on safety and l education of children.

Rigby, who had also addressed the council in a hearing during one of the previous policy-making processes, said he was unable to separate his role as a district worker from that of a parent. . He said the armed teachers made possible by the adoption of the CKA would be a “last resort” measure, to be used only after the use of other measures, including SafeDefend emergency alert systems. installed by the district two years ago. He specifically mentioned students who might not be in classrooms if a violent intruder entered a school building, saying CKA would help staff “take care of children who cannot get behind a locked door.”

“I want that last resort between my daughter” and a gunman, Rigby said.

He explained that he too had participated in part of the firearms training for those who requested permission to carry concealed. Rigby said he consciously knew he wasn’t going to be injured or killed during the simulations, but that the scenarios were “always as real as possible”, including the “shoot-don’t shoot” scenarios.

Chris Brackin, who had also addressed the board about armed personnel previously, said he supports the policy and appreciates the school board for developing it. He said he believed the majority of the community had already spoken and supported the policy and that teachers who would ask to carry a concealed firearm know the risks and have been prepared to act in dangerous situations for them. save children’s lives.

Brackin referred to gun control and suggested asking for “a blood or a crip” if they obtained their guns legally, while indicating that he was okay with background checks for purchases of guns. ‘fire arms.

Beppler was the last to speak, telling the board he had already submitted numerous written comments, including new research and evidence. He said he suspected the council would vote again to adopt the policy, but asked them to pause and take time to read and reflect on the evidence he submitted. Beppler said some of this evidence included a study showing that armed school resource officers actually increased the risk of violence in a school because mass shooters are often suicidal.

He also referred to earlier comments by some council members that the lawsuits he was a party to were “frivolous,” noting that each lawsuit had resulted in a loss for the district. “By nature, it’s not frivolous,” he said.

At the end of the comments, Thomas said he would compile any written comments received by email or submitted through a form available on the district’s website to present them to council for consideration. At the next meeting on April 13, the board will have an opportunity to respond to these comments, as required by Wyoming Administrative Procedures Act. At the regular May board meeting, directors can choose to approve the formal response to comments and potentially endorse the CKA rule itself.

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