Madison schools ask judge to end gun lawsuit

Attorneys for the Madison school district claim the parents who sued the school board misread state statutes that say gun-carrying teachers must have 70 hours of peace officer training.

The school district has asked Judge Charles Pater to grant summary judgment, effectively ending the case because there is no “genuine issue of material fact.”

A group of parents sued the Board of Education and superintendent in September, alleging the board’s April resolution authorizing armed staff in schools violates an Ohio law requiring that armed school employees be trained and certified as peace officers. The gun program came about after a school shooting there three years ago when four students were injured by a classmate.

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The parents are seeking an injunction blocking the district from arming teachers and other staff without the training required by law — 728 hours versus the 26 hours the school has in its policy — and a court order requiring disclosure of policies and procedures for arming staff.

The attorneys for the school district told Judge Charles Pater in a motion Ohio law sanctions school employees carrying concealed firearms to protect the children and doesn’t require lengthy training at the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy.

“The plain language of R.C. 109.78(D) is clear: it does not apply to those to those staff members authorized to carry a concealed weapon in a school safety zone,” the motion reads. “Instead, the statute requires ‘a special police officer, security guard and other position in which such person goes armed on duty’ to attend OPOTA-approved basic training or otherwise have 20 years experience as a police officer.”

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Pater already ruled on the second piece of the lawsuit, saying he won’t issue a court order for some of the requested documents, but if the parents narrow some of their requests, he might reconsider.

The judge will hold a hearing later this month on the parents’ motion asking him to pause the gun program while the lawsuit is pending.

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