Oregon School Board rejects housing assault rifle in high school

OREGON (WKOW) — The Oregon School District Board is asking the Village of Oregon to go back to the drawing board with them on a school resource officer agreement for the new school year.

The district and village were at odds over the proposal, which would have allowed the police chief to direct the housing of an AR-15 style assault rifle in the high school for safety.

More than a dozen parents and citizens spoke against that facet of the agreement, saying there wasn’t any evidence to support that having an assault rifle on hand for a resource officer made the school any safer.

Board member Tim LeBrun said that at first, he believed this was an anti-gun argument. He had set out to find any evidence to show that having a rifle would help, but he said he “found no evidence” that having that weapon in the school would make any affect.

A spokesperson for the Oregon Education Association also read a statement from the organization in opposition of having the semi-automatic weapon housed in the school.

Beyond the gun, residents said they had other issues with the proposed agreement. Last year’s agreement was several pages long and laid out goals and objectives for a school resource officer program. Many said that this year’s proposal from the village, which was about two pages, made the officer seem “punitive” and not someone who was going to build relationships with the students.

Oregon High School senior Megdalen Edwards told the board that the proposed agreement wouldn’t support or help students.

“They’re not just there to be going through punitive actions and keep having consequences because that creates a negative environment for our students,” she said. “I hope instead you promote positive interactions.”

The district’s in-house counsel, Jina Jonen, said she had several legal concerns about the pending agreement. She echoed some public comment about how the agreement “doesn’t touch” on the relationship building component that is a “critical” factor of an SRO. She said it also failed to designate the SRO as a school official and it did not have an additional provision for training.

The district developed its past policies based on guides put out by the state Department of Public Instruction and state Department of Justice for school resource officers.

Beyond agreeing that they did not want an assault rifle in the school, board members also said they were willing to sit down with the village to discuss the proposed agreement and address additional concerns.

Village board member Cory Horton told 27 News that they had tried to get something in place quickly and easily, and conceded that some things may have been overlooked. He said they were going to “get back to the table” with the school district to rework the policies.

Board members expressed a desire to figure out a way the community could give more input on safety and security beyond public comment at a board meeting.

Superintendent Dr. Brian Busler said they hope to get things “ironed” out by next Tuesday when school starts, but if they don’t, they are working on plans to try to get an officer in the school on an interim basis. If not, they will make alternate plans.

Oregon Police Chief Brian Uhl advocated for housing the rifle in the school.

The board said it appreciated the residents and parents coming out to the meeting and voicing their opinions.

More at WKOW 27 News

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