A bill heading to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk, if signed, would undo two Kern High School District decisions last year to allow concealed carry weapon permit holders to bring firearms onto public campuses.

AB 424, authored by Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, was written in direct response to the actions of five school districts, including KHSD, that took advantage of a provision of Senate Bill 707. That bill, passed in 2015, bans firearms on school campuses but exempts CCW permit holders who receive permission from a district superintendent.

If signed, AB 424 will undo that provision of the law.

“A safe learning environment is essential for our children to be successful in the classroom,” McCarty said in a statement this month. “That’s not possible if a school district allows armed civilians to roam California school campuses. The Legislature’s approval of AB 424 is a common sense step, supported by campus police officers, to make sure schools are gun-free.”

KHSD seized upon the loophole last year, passing a board policy to allow non-employee CCW permit holders to carry firearms on campus, then passed another policy months later allowing staff members to possess firearms on school grounds.

Months-long debates leading up to those decisions were held during board meetings that sometimes turned raucous, with proponents on both sides of the issue speaking out.

“I think the state wasted the district’s time more than anybody else,” said KHSD Trustee Philip Peters, who brought the policy proposal to the board last year. “SB 707 gave us this opportunity. For the legislature to turn around two years later and say ‘that wasn’t smart of us, we’re going to take back that ability for you ... to implement policies best for your district ...’ – it’s disheartening but not surprising from our legislature.”

Twenty-two non-employee CCW permit holders were authorized to bring firearms on campuses, KHSD spokeswoman Lisa Krch said. Administrative regulations have not yet been drafted governing how teachers may bring firearms on campus, despite the board's approval of the policy in a split 3-2 vote last November.

Harold Pierce covers education and health for The Californian. He can be reached at 661-395-7404. Follow him on Twitter @RoldyPierce

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