“With regard to the residency requirement, the court has previously concluded that plaintiffs do not have standing to challenge the policy’s residency requirement,” Barrett wrote. “While the court understands the concern when this requirement is applied to parents who live outside the district, the court also notes that Section A of the public participation policy allows anyone with a legitimate interest to participate in the public portion of the meeting.”
Ison’s attorney could not be reached for comment as to whether they will appeal.
Madison Superintendent Lisa Tuttle-Huff said the district is grateful for Barrett’s ruling.
“We are pleased that Judge Barrett ruled in the District’s favor,” she said. “The district always welcomes input from its students, residents, and taxpayers. Judge Barrett’s decision shows that the district’s policy allowing for public comment at its board meetings is constitutional.”
The other lawsuit against the district is now pending before the Ohio Supreme Court.
Erin Gabbard and a few other parents sued the district in September 2018 seeking an injunction blocking the district from arming teachers and other staff without the training required of law enforcement officials — 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 policy was instituted after a 2016 shooting at the Junior/Senior High School.
The parents appealed Butler County Common Pleas Judge Charles Pater’s decision against them to the 12th District Court of Appeals a year ago.
Pater ruled teachers and other staff are not peace officers and therefore do not require police levels of training. The appeals court disagreed and ordered the school district to stop arming teachers without much more involved training. The high court lifted the ban on Aug. 4 allowing staff to carry weapons while the case is pending.
Simultaneously Ohio Sen. Bill Coley introduced legislation that would render the 12th District decision moot. The bill passed out of the Government Oversight and Reform committee last month by a 6 to 3 vote, after scores of people testified against it, including Gabbard.
“Do we really expect a teacher with as little as zero hours of training to be able to use their weapon in a way that doesn’t harm the students it proclaims to protect, as they run for their lives in and out of sightlines,” part of her testimony reads. “If our staff members had been armed in 2016, how much more blood would’ve been shed because of lack of training?”