Teacher appeals ruling forbidding gun

A Medford English teacher who sought to bring her pistol to school has appealed a Circuit Court ruling affirming the school district's right to forbid employees from carrying guns on campus.

The appeal, filed Friday in the state Court of Appeals in Salem, continues a battle between South Medford High School teacher Shirley Katz and the district that began in fall 2007 when Katz told officials she wanted to carry the semiautomatic 9 mm Glock to protect herself from her ex-husband, whom she said had threatened her.

Ex-husband Gerry Katz has denied he threatened her.

Oral arguments in the appeal are not expected until summer.

In a high-profile case that spawned anxiety among public school officials across the state, Katz claimed the district's policy conflicted with a state law that prohibits local governments from enacting "civil or criminal ordinances" regulating or restricting firearms.

"We are going to say the same things in the Court of Appeals that we said in trial court," said attorney Jim Leuenberger, who represents Katz.

The bulk of Katz' legal expenses are being financed by the Oregon Firearms Educational Foundation.

State law allows people with permits to carry concealed handguns into schools and other public buildings, but most school districts have passed policies barring employees from doing so.

Jackson County Circuit Court Judge G. Philip Arnold's opinion stated that districts are entitled to pass such policies because they govern only employees and are a condition of employment to which employees agree.

"We are confident the Court of Appeals will affirm the trial judge's ruling," said attorney Tim Gerking, who represents the district.

Members of the public who have a concealed handgun permit may still carry a gun to public schools under the existing law.

School districts across the state have been pressing legislators for years to pass a law that would ban everyone except law enforcement officers from carrying guns on school campuses.

Reach reporter Paris Achen at 541-776-4459 or pachen@mailtribune.com.

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