A science teacher who kept a gun inside his classroom was reportedly suspended, but a petition might save his job.
According to CBS Los Angeles, the California educator of 21 years at Rancho Cucamonga High School and Level 1 Reserve Officer with the Irwindale Police Department kept the weapon in a locked storage cabinet until administrators discovered it on Tuesday and suspended him.
Ashley Biering, a former graduate of the school, tells Yahoo Lifestyle that most students knew about the gun, but a few reported it to administrators when they were caught cheating in class. “They got in trouble, so they ratted him out,” she says.
Biering and the unidentified teacher met at an event for shooting survivors — both attended the 2017 Las Vegas Harvest Music Festival, where a man shot and killed 50 people and injured hundreds. “This teacher walked a mile carrying a man to safety, who had been shot in the leg for a mile, and watched over nine scared girls,” she says of her friend.
The gun, says Beiring, was for security. “It’s an added protection that can stop a school shooter without having to wait for police. As a teacher who is also a police officer, why wouldn’t he have one?”
Beiring, a mother of three, tells Yahoo Lifestyle: “They paraded him through campus, in front of his son who is a sophomore at the school, like he was a criminal. They took his gun, cell phone, and school badge.”
According to the Chaffey Joint Union High School District, the teacher is not in legal trouble, although a spokesperson would not confirm to Yahoo Lifestyle whether he was suspended.
“On May 7, 2019, the District and local law enforcement learned that a RCHS teacher had brought a firearm to school,” reads a district statement sent to Yahoo Lifestyle. “It was later determined that the teacher is a reserve police officer with a nearby law enforcement agency.”
The statement continues: “The California Gun-Free School Zone Act makes it a crime for a person to possess a firearm on or within 1,000 feet of a school campus. However, the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department informed the District that the law makes an exception for certain individuals, including reserve peace officers (P.C. 830.6), who are authorized to carry a firearm. District administration has confirmed that the RCHS employee is a sworn reserve peace officer and is authorized to carry a firearm. Therefore, it is our understanding that the teacher would not face any criminal penalty for carrying or possessing a firearm on school premises.”
“Nonetheless, the District maintains a policy regulation (A.R. 3515.1B) that prohibits any employee (with the exception of Board authorization granted to the District’s Director of Safety), from bringing firearms onto school premises. The Penal Code exception does not require the District to allow an employee — even if the employee falls within the peace officer exception — to bring a firearm to school. The teacher did not notify school administration or the District despite our policy.”
On Wednesday, Biering posted a Change.org petition with more than 7,000 signatures. “He is highly regarded amongst his colleges and faculty members, and do not deserve this form of treatment by school officials and the district,” she wrote. “Please [help] us by signing this petition to get him back to teaching our youth, without him a great asset will be lost within our community. He is more than just a teacher, he is a mentor and friend to many of our local students and their families.”
Wrote one petitioner: “This teacher is and has been a hero and role model for our children. He leaves them feeling safe and would do the right thing!”
Added another: “Any trained officer or military active of retired in good standings should carry, especially in schools and churches as these are the most vulnerable areas for violent attacks. This teacher is a hero.”
On Friday morning, Biering and others will picket outside of Rancho Cucamonga High School. “He’s in tears over this,” she says of the teacher, “but he’s trying to stand strong.”
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