Ohio Supreme Court ruling allows Madison to arm staffers: What to know today

The Ohio Supreme Court cleared the way on Wednesday for Madison Schools to arm staff while a lawsuit appeal is pending.

The school district asked the high court to stay the 12th District Court of Appeals decision that prohibited Madison from enforcing its concealed gun carry policy. A majority of the court approved the motion and also agreed to expedite the case.

Madison Schools attorney Brodi Conover told the Journal-News the court decision would allow staff to carry guns but he wasn’t sure if staff are armed yet. Superintendent Lisa Tuttle-Huff could not be reached for comment.

The court challenge came in response to a gun policy that was passed after a 2016 shooting at Madison Jr./Sr. High School, where a student injured four of his classmates.

Erin Gabbard and 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 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 that much more involved training.

The district appealed to the Supreme Court in May, the court accepted the appeal Aug. 4 and Madison requested the stay two days later.

“Madison has made the policy decision that its students and staff are safer with its policy in place. A stay while this Court decides the merits of this appeal not only honors that policy choice until and unless this Court decides that policy choice is not permitted – it also ensures that the district is not made less safe in the meantime by what might turn out to be an erroneous lower court decision,” the motion reads. “Put another way, a stay will help ensure there is no irreparable injury while this appeal is pending.”

The parents opposed the stay saying Madison has had four months to implement other safety measures in the schools. They said lifting the gun policy could be dangerous.

“The issuance of a stay would substantially harm appellee parents, their children, and other families in the Madison Local School District,” the motion to deny reads. “Each day that inadequately trained staff carry guns in school causes plaintiffs and other district parents harm: the increased risk that inadequate training will lead to their children being physically injured or killed because of a misjudgment, error, or lapse on the part of armed staff.”

The parents’ attorney could not be reached for comment.

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