Uinta County School District #1 passed a policy in March that allows staff to carry guns in schools as a safety measure. But at this week’s meeting, the board was presented with a petition calling for a halt to implementation of the policy, which is currently set to take effect in July.
Tiffany Eskelson-Maestas, a parent of two kids in the school system, signed the petition. She said she shares a fear for student safety with those in support of the policy, but she’s worried that other ways of addressing violence were overlooked in the rush to action.
“We also have fears around the unintentional consequences of this policy and concern about the process and what we feel is a lack of transparency,” said Maestas.
The school board passed the policy after just two readings, which is all that’s required according to the Uinta #1 school board bylaws. But at the March meeting, several public comments were made requesting more time to review the policy before a vote. In contrast, Park County District #6 in Cody, which passed a similar policy, did three readings before taking action.
The petition requests there be a third reading, more information about how the policy was formed and what evidence was used to justify it, and a list of funding sources received to support efforts to allow the concealed carry of firearms in schools.
Eskelson-Maestas said she’s not convinced that the committee organized by the school district to draft the policy included a diversity of opinions about guns in schools. She said typically the district does a better job of engaging parents.
“When they’re putting out notices like half day, or parent-teacher conferences, or your lunch balance is low, or any other information that they want,” said Maestas, “you would think that they would follow the same practice for a policy that would bring firearms into the schools.”
The more than 160 people who have signed the petition as of May 8, share her concern that the district did not do its due diligence to engage the community in an open review of the policy before taking a vote.
Superintendent Ryan Thomas said the school board has 30 days to make an official response to the concerns expressed in the petition, but the district intends to move forward with the policy as planned.