On Thursday, the Kern County High School District in California’s Central Valley voted in favor of allowing faculty and staff with concealed carry permits to carry firearms on campus. The vote passed 3-2 after several months of debate and an earlier decision to allow non-staff members with valid concealed carry permits to apply for permission to carry weapons on campuses.
“I believe it creates a safer environment. If nothing else, those that would do evil with a firearm will not have the assurance it’s a gun-free zone. That is a big deterrent itself,” Board President Mike Williams told KBAK.
The vote has drawn criticism for a number of reasons, the biggest one being political. A special, last minute board meeting was called so board member Chad Vegas, a proponent of the concealed carry policy, could vote on proposal before leaving office in two weeks.
One criticism, from the teachers association, had to do with the timing of the meeting; which took place at 2 p.m. when teachers were still in the classroom, making it impossible for them to attend and share their opinions during the public comment time allotment.
According to the teachers association, the board was in violation the Ralph M. Brown Act, California’s open meeting law.
“I respectfully submit that the action proposed by the KHSD Board concerning guns on campus which involves calling a special meeting held at a time that no KHSD employee can attend to comment will be in violation of the Brown Act,” KHSD teacher Terri Richmond wrote to the board Thursday morning.
Although it appears like a rushed vote, the board has had seven meetings to discuss the topic over the last 10 months.
“While it is always the preference of all the trustees to handle this motion in a regular board meeting, we believe that it is time to have this board vote on the issue. Waiting until the next regular meeting, with a new trustee coming on board that hasn’t considered the issue would be unfair to him and the community,” Williams said in a statement.
Kern County High School District is now the largest school district in the state to allow staff members to carry on campus.