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Guns in schools? Board launches debate

Board invites public comment on weapons policy


Should licensed school district employees and volunteers be allowed to bring guns on campus?

Several Estacada school board members think so.

During the school board meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 9, school Board Chairman Rick Mudrow and board member Jeromy Adamson announced they’d like to ignite a public discussion of the district’s weapons policy.

Mudrow told the room that the board had recently adopted a weapons policy that “identifies what weapons look like, smell like, taste like and they’re all banned from the property.”

Adamson drew attention to the part of that policy that states that “Employees, district contractors and/or their employees and district volunteers shall not possess a dangerous or deadly weapon or firearm on district property or at school-sponsored events.”

The policy does allow the principal or athletic director to use a starter pistol or replica for track and field sports.

Adamson said he was concerned that under the policy, adult district employees or volunteers — such as school board members — are barred from bringing a gun onto school property, whereas a parent with a concealed handgun license would be allowed to do so.

He stated that he would like to change the policy so that licensed district employees and adults would be permitted to carry a gun onto district property.

Mudrow said the policy seemed to him “nebulous and restrictive for employees and not others.”

“The reason we’re bringing it up is 20 years ago, we didn’t have school shootings,” Adamson said.

Mudrow added that part of the motivation to review the policy is an attempt to address school shootings.

Adamson, Mudrow and Shannon Powell, director of special education, volunteered to be part of a group that will research other districts’ weapons policies and relevant laws.

Adamson and Mudrow said they would like to hear public opinion on the issue during the next board meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13, in the high school choir room.

During a later interview, executive secretary Sabrina La Londe gave some background for Estacada’s weapons policy.

La Londe explained that like many other Oregon districts, Estacada contracts with the Oregon School Boards Association.

The association’s attorneys review district policies and send quarterly summaries with required and recommended updates for district policies to make sure they comply with federal and state law and any recently passed legislation.

La Londe said that’s why many policies are identical across districts.

Back in 2012, the district received updates to the student weapons policy and recommended updates to the staff weapons policy, often referred to by its code name: “GBJ.”

GBJ went through a few revisions and was adopted in July of this year.

La Londe noted that was about the time new members joined the Estacada School Board.

La Londe said that it was probably approved as part of the board’s consent agenda.

“Very seldom will we ever approve a policy by itself. It’s usually included in a consent agenda,” she said.

Mudrow said later that he had been aware of the policy, but had not “paid close attention.”

This year, Mudrow said the board is “working to make sure that everyone reads the policies so we make sure we know what we’re voting on.”

He noted that even though this “seems basic,” it “may not have traditionally been the case.”

But upon reviewing the policy, Mudrow said he and Adamson thought it should be revisited.

Mudrow said he wants to make sure the policy “isn’t impinging on personal liberties” and thought that it would be a good topic of discussion.

“Certainly safety and security of our students at any level is the priority of public education,” Mudrow added.

When asked about Adamson’s school shootings comment at the board meeting, Mudrow said, “You can’t keep the bad guys out with a policy.”

“I have a right to keep and bear arms as every non-felon does under the Constitution,” Mudrow said. “I’m not a person that runs from guns... In the right circumstance.”

Mudrow had noted during the board meeting that he and Adamson were referring only to legally obtained guns belonging to those with licenses to carry concealed weapons.

When asked if public response during the November board meaning would sway his future votes on the matter, Mudrow responded, “We’re inclined to listen to public input.”

He noted that it is not always possible to do so and comply with legislative and legal necessities.

“When you get down to it, these folks are the ones with kids in the district and if we’re not paying attention we’re probably not doing what we were elected to do,” Mudrow said.

“I think if people have a license to carry it they should be allowed to carry it. I don’t want them flashing it around and bullying people like has happened in some places. But if they have a license to carry it, I don’t have a real problem with it,” said board member Ralph Branson in an interview.

“My main concern is certainly to meet the needs of the community and also to make sure what we’re doing as a district is legal relative to the other laws in regard to weapons,” said board member Leslie André when reached for comment.

Adamson, and board members Mark Greene, Sonja McCarty and Angi Riedel had not returned calls by press time.

What do you think?

Community members are invited to voice their opinion on the Estacada School District’s weapons policy at the November Board Meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13, in the Estacada High School choir room.

You also may send an email to the board secretary at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



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