Medford school monitor fired for carrying gun

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MEDFORD, Ore. — The Medford School Board has upheld the firing of a part-time middle school monitor who has a concealed weapons permit and refused to comply with district policy that prohibits employees from carrying a gun.

Donald Later, a retired Jackson County sheriff's deputy, was hired Jan. 7 as a part-time campus monitor at Hedrick Middle School. The job, which pays $10 or $11 an hour, entails supervising children during recess and as they enter and leave the school.

At the time of his hiring, Long signed a form acknowledging he would follow district policies, the Mail Tribune newspaper reported.

Superintendent Phil Long said Later never displayed a gun, so it's not certain he ever brought one to school. However, when Principal Dan Smith asked whether he was carrying, Later said yes.

Later met with Long during spring break and asked for permission to carry the concealed weapon. After reviewing district policies, Long denied the request, explaining why in a two-page letter sent to the employee's home.

When the campus monitor later told the principal that he still intended to carry the concealed weapon, he was placed on administrative leave and then fired for insubordination.

The six board members who attended this week's meeting voted unanimously to uphold the dismissal. Since Later was a probationary employee, not a member of the union, he could have been fired without cause, but the district wanted to take the time to review its weapons policy, Long said.

The district policy prohibiting guns withstood a 2007 challenge from a high school English teacher with a concealed weapons permit who said she needed a 9 mm semi-automatic pistol as protection against her ex-husband. The case eventually reached the Oregon Court of Appeals, which supported a local ruling that the school district had the authority to prohibit employees from carrying guns.