MEDFORD, Ore. — A retired sheriff's deputy fired for refusing to stop carrying a gun while working in a Medford school said he wanted to be prepared in case the children's safety was threatened.
Donald Later said he didn't apply for the job as a part-time campus monitor at Hedrick Middle School to push for gun rights. But while going through training, he was struck by the emphasis put on the children's safety.
He added that he felt he was entitled to carry a gun in school as a law enforcement officer, even though he was retired.
"This is not about me. It's not about guns. It's about whether or not I was acting in accordance with school board policy," said Later, 64, a retired Jackson County sheriff's deputy and longtime Medford resident. "I don't see how they can say I'm not in compliance."
Medford Schools Superintendent Bill Long disagrees.
"When it comes to someone responsible for our students' safety, we need to know they will follow direction and abide by our safety protocols," he said.
The Medford School Board upheld Later's firing June 18 for continuing to carry a gun after being told not to.
Later said recent violent events on campuses led him to think, "What would I do in that case?"
He went to Long on March 26 to say that he was going to carry a gun on campus.
Long sent a letter mailed to Later's home on April 24 that employees carrying weapons were in violation of School Board Policy GBJ and can be subject to discipline.