Kern High School District officials began allowing non-employee concealed carry weapon permit holders to bring firearms on campus Wednesday, but with a cost that at least one trustee said presents “obstacles” to armed citizens.

Applicants must carry at least $1 million in liability insurance coverage, agree to have their names and applications disclosed if somebody files a California Public Records Act request for the information, and undergo an interview with the Kern High School District Police Department chief prior to approval.

“It’s definitely a big obstacle,” Trustee Phillip Peters said, adding he doesn’t think administrators wrote that insurance stipulation into the application to discourage permit holders from applying. “It sounds like it would be cost-prohibitive and I feel like it goes against the spirit of what we were trying to do.”

District officials said the new policy allowing guns on campuses introduces “new risks” to KHSD.

“The practice of requiring liability insurance is consistent with other non-employees who enter into agreements with the KHSD,” district spokeswoman Lisa Krch said. 

Trustee President Mike Williams described the application as a “first pass,” and said the district would make revisions as needed.

“I don’t even think there are a lot of people who are even interested,” Williams said when asked about the number of applications the district has received. They’ve not yet had a single applicant, Krch said.  

Peters said he’ll try to remove the insurance requirement. Administrators came up with the permit application and didn’t submit it for board approval.

“I’ll do whatever I can to bring this issue up and try to get that off of there,” Peters said. “If Sheriff (Donny) Youngblood doesn’t require it, i think it’s kind of a backdoor, you know? It serves to prohibit people from being able to exercise that option.”

Liability insurance policies for CCW permit holders run from about $30 to $40 a month, said David Pilcher, a Los Angeles-based risk management insurance and claims consultant.

The policy requirement would help shield the district from civil lawsuits in the event of an incident, but only up to a point, Pilcher said.

“If the damages are above $1 million then they’re going to be in an excess liability situation,” Pilcher said, meaning the district or its insurance carrier would need to cover the costs. “I suppose it would shield the district somewhat, but whether or not that’s adequate is another question.”

Additionally, those policies typically don’t cover intentional acts, Pilcher said.

“If somebody shoots somebody, was it intentional or accidental?” Pilcher asked. “That’s another very gray area, so as far as I’m concerned the school district here is just wading into some very murky water.”

Administrators spent months researching the topic, which was first raised as a result of SB 707, which bars guns on public school district property, except for those Concealed Carry Weapon permit holders who receive written exemptions from local superintendents or their representatives.

Trustees voted unanimously to let non-employees bring firearms onto the district’s 18 campuses and to any school-sponsored event in June. The decision was both condemned and lauded by community members.

Board members have not yet voted on whether to allow employees to carry firearms.

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