By Andrew Cluley-AAPS Communications Specialist
On Tuesday, Michigan Appeals Court Judge Kristen Frank Kelly asked attorneys representing clients in opposition of school district policies banning firearms, “Why is this not a no brainer?” Two days later the Appeals Court ruled unanimously in favor of Ann Arbor Public Schools and the Clio Area School District in similar cases that leave in place policies banning the possession of firearms in schools and at school-sponsored events.
For Ann Arbor Public Schools, it means that Policies 5400, 5410, and 5420 that combine to ensure all properties owned or leased by the district will remain dangerous weapon free zones. The Appeals Court ruling upheld the decision Washtenaw Circuit Court Judge Carol Kuhnke made in September 2015 against Michigan Gun Owners Inc.
Ann Arbor Public Schools Superintendent, Jeanice
Swift, stated, “The presence of guns in schools runs contrary to everything we are wired for in education, and is counterproductive to maintaining a rich, productive and healthy learning environment for our children. We are pleased that the court has ruled in favor of our position that puts the safety of children first.”
The court ruling affirmed the district’s position that state law doesn’t preempt schools from banning firearms, since state law calls on public school districts the right to address the safety and welfare of students, and because school districts were not included in the definition of the types of local units of government that are prohibited from banning guns. Only cities, villages, townships, or counties were included in that definition.
During oral arguments, Appeals Judge Elizabeth Gleicher questioned how allowing open carry of firearms could co-exist with emergency policies that call on schools to go into lockdown mode until police arrive when a weapon is present. She also noted the more than two dozen times the legislature has used the phrase weapon free school zone.
These concerns appeared in the court ruling as well. The ruling states, “The AAPS policy ensures that the learning environment remains uninterrupted by the invocation of emergency procedures which would surely be required each and every time a weapon is openly carried by a citizen into a school building.”