Kern High School District trustees voted 3-2 Thursday to allow teachers and certificated staffers with Concealed Carry Weapon permits to bring guns to campuses.

Trustees Jeff Flores and Bryan Batey voted no, while Trustees Mike Williams, Phillip Peters and Chad Vegas voted yes. The trio of supporters said having more guns at high schools would create safer environments for students.

“I’ve made my beliefs pretty clear. This is a step toward making our campuses safer for students and staff,” said Peters, who sat on the committee exploring the issue and has long been a proponent of the policy. “I don’t always know what the right decision is, but I do believe this is the best direction.”

The policy passed without any administrative regulations attached, despite trustees having tasked administrators with months of research on the matter. There are no guidelines on how to roll out the policy, direction on who would be able to carry a concealed weapon, or discussion of what requirements will be considered.

Those regulations will be developed later, Williams said.

“We’re not attempting to grant permission at this time. What we’re doing is setting board policy that we want administrative regulations to go into a particular direction to have a certain goal,” Williams said.

The decision heads-off a months-long debate over safety and Second Amendment rights. Williams has said it was moved up to an unusual special session meeting so Vegas, a proponent of the measure, could vote on it before he leaves office. He did not feel Trustee-elect Joey O’Connell had been as well-versed on the debate as Vegas.

The policy had a first and final read before approval. Most policy recommendations have two reads before a final vote.

“I almost hate to address it because people think it’s my policy,” said Vegas, who told The Californian the policy is Williams’ brain child and championed by Peters.

Williams denied Thursday that he scheduled the special session out of political convenience, or that he held the item from the regularly scheduled Nov. 7 meeting to avoid attracting negative press ahead of the public vote on the district’s $280 million bond measure.

“It has nothing to do with politics, and the idea that we’re railroading an idea through to me is just not genuine,” Williams said. “There’s nothing political about a school board. We’re not political.”

Jesse Aguilar, vice president of the Kern High School Teachers Association, called the timing of the meeting “outrageous.”

“Passing policy in the shadows is not good governance. This is not the way this board should be doing business. We ask you to do the right thing: postpone this vote,” Aguilar told trustees during the one minute Williams gave him and each of the other speakers to weigh in during public comment.

Meanwhile, Flores, who voted against the policy, took issue with the board taking action on “the biggest vote on student safety in the history of the district” outside of a regularly scheduled meeting.

“I’ve never even heard of a first (and final) read,” Flores said. “I’m pro-Second Amendment, but it isn’t just about our stance on the Second Amendment — it’s about our students. I think it’s a one-in-10,000 chance we have an active shooter scenario, but we’ll have to live with, the next 10,000 days, a policy with 35,000 students and 3,500 staff and there’s lots of things that can go south.”

Flores questioned how involved the public was in the process, with the district holding no public forums dedicated to the matter, nor soliciting opinions outside board meetings from law enforcement.

Williams quickly corrected him, saying Dave Edmiston, the acting KHSD Police Department chief who has since been put on administrative leave while prosecutors decide whether to charge him with eavesdropping, gave some direction to a board committee.

“Their opinion was that they would do whatever we instructed them to do,” Williams said.

While administrative regulations have not been drafted, trustees have indicated that they’ll limit the caliber of the bullets that can be carried, require 40 to 80 hours of training, and won't make carrying a gun mandatory.

The board also did not outline regulations when it approved a policy allowing non-employee CCW permit holders to carry a gun on campus in June. It has since developed an application.

So far, 13 people have applied for and received permits to carry concealed weapons on KHSD campuses. 

They include a stay-at-home mom, a dispatcher for the Kern County Sheriff’s Office, a doctor, an analyst for an oil company, an insurance agent and five people who attend church services at KHSD campuses on the weekends.

(9) comments

Richard Rider

For over a dozen years, the state of Utah has had such law statewide for both K-12 and the universities (colleges give the adult students the right to pack heat), with relatively easy "carry" requirements. The resulting carnage has been massive. Surely you've read the daily reports of shootings and accidental gun deaths in Utah schools, right?

Well, SOME day there MIGHT be such a story. But since the law was passed, there has not been a SINGLE gun incident of any kind in the K-12 schools. Parents, teachers and students feel safer.

Progressives are disappointed with these real world results. But undeterred by reality, of course.

Guns'n'Toddlers

The new board should simply rescind this policy, and then never waste another minute promoting this silly fad.

yorkies2014

they have Sunday services on high schools campuses on weekends where the congregation is weaponized.....WTF we doing Bakersfield?

metacome

HAHAHAHAHA.... News from the Future: Injured Student's Family Buys Yacht with L LARGE Settlement from KHSD after Teacher Shots him. Lets hope some poor kid doesn't die because some idiots want to impose their political beliefs on our schools. Local government should be void of ideology.

ggiaggia

This is now under the control of a much higher power. We will see who dies first.

cforzetting

Why do the 'concerned' seem to always forget that someone who manages to get a CCW in this Leftist-controlled state has undergone one of the most stringent background checks available? Maybe a police officer's check takes longer and is more thorough, but maybe not. If anyone can be trusted, it is a permit holder, and the 'what-ifs' are without reasonable foundation. On the other hand, school shootings (funny how the shooters don't care about this 'gun-free zone' foolishness) can and have happened, and that is not a 'what-if', and would it not be great if, just for once, a teacher could do more to protect the innocent than throw his body in front of a bullet?

Nevermind

Not all CCW holders are stand up citizens. Since 2007, there have been 29 mass murders of three people or more by CCW permit holders. One bad decision, and people make bad decisions daily, and the District might be liable for 10 of millions which begs the question, how much more will liability insurance for the District increase? Have they put that into the equation? Would those increased insurance and potential lawsuits add up to be even more than the the cost of having an armed cop on campus?

Richard Rider

Almost none of those shootings were related to concealed carry. Most occurred in the home, where no CCW permit is required. The shootings outside of the homes were ones where the individual got his weapon and went after someone -- again undeterred by concealed carry laws. And MOST important, CC holders are FAR less likely to shoot someone than a person without a CC licence. In Texas, the rate of shootings by NON-CC holders is SEVEN times higher than the rate of CCW folks.

Nevermind

Rich, he point is not that CCW carriers are more likely to do something irrational. its that they are not immune to messing up. Not all High School employees, permit or not, are immune from jealousies, sociopathic behavior, or simply making a mistake. Chick Fero, formerly an outstanding cross country coach at East High, went on to a New Mexico High School and shot his Supervisor point blank in the face multiple times for a bad performance evaluation. Everyone knows about the psychotic Vincent Brothers. In 2001 a study was conducted with 64 kids individually in a room with a 2 way mirror and a pistol partially hidden. Of the 64, 48 handled the pistol, and 16 pulled the trigger with a blank shell in it. Are ALL Teachers going to carry the gun on them in a holster? Will they keep it in an unlocked desk that gives students access? Will they keep it in a locked desk precluding them from getting to it in time?
The District has voted, but its my contention that there is more of a likelihood that it will cause a bad event rather than prevent it. If someone wants to shoot kds, they can do it from their car next to the playground, they can kill kids on their way to school. They dont have to do the shooting in a classroom, and if they do, we can all hope he picked the class with a teacher carrying, the teacher has the ability to remain calm, the teacher getting to his gun, and the teacher being a decent shot under pressure.

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