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Ohio Supreme Court starts new year with armed teacher lawsuit

Susan Tebben, Ohio Capital Journal |

One of the first cases the Ohio Supreme Court will consider in 2021 will regard firearms policies authorized by school districts.

The case comes from Butler County, and was also the subject of legislation that failed to pass in the waning hours of the last General Assembly.

The state’s highest court plans to hear oral arguments in Gabbard v. Madison Local School District Board of Education on Jan. 13. The court already allowed the district to continue with an approved firearms authorization policy as the appeal goes through the court.

The school district is arguing that not only are they allowed to create policies which allow school personnel to carry firearms on school grounds, but also that the level of training needed to carry a gun in schools should be up to them.

The training, Madison Local Schools argues, should be less than what is required through the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy, because those requirements include irrelevant duties such as field sobriety tests.

The lawsuit was supported with briefs from multiple other schools in the state, and a brief from Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost.

Opposition to firearms policies include the Fraternal Order of Police, hundreds of teachers, and former law enforcement.

Journal-News: Last week Judge Greg Stephens agreed the Madison school board acted improperly when it deployed its armed staff program because there was no notice of the meetings held with staff who wanted to arm themselves, the meetings were private and no minutes were taken, violating the state’s Open Meetings Act.

The judge banned arming staff who were approved to carry guns under the current program and has prevented the school board from reinstating the program unless open meetings laws are properly followed.

Denis G. Callahan, Journal-News – January 12th, 2021

Other cases coming before the court

The state Supreme Court will also be hearing a Fulton County man’s appeal to his murder conviction and death sentence for a 2016 case in which Sierah Joughin disappeared as she was riding her bike home from her boyfriend’s house. James Worley, who was found riding his motorcycle on the same evening, was convicted in the case, but says the evidence is circumstantial, and does not directly tie him to the crime.

Also being considered during next week’s oral arguments is the case of a Lake County attorney who faces disbarment for sex crimes for which he was convicted before becoming a lawyer.

Anthony Polizzi, Jr., is asking the court to indefinitely suspend his law license while he serves a 28-year prison sentence, rather than permanently banning him from practicing law. Polizzi, Jr., pleaded guilty to eight counts of gross sexual imposition and sexual battery committed against two teenage students while he was a high school teacher at Cornerstone Christian Academy.

Between the time he was asked to leave the school and was convicted of the crimes, Polizzi became a lawyer. He argues that because the conduct happened before he became a lawyer and no similar accusations have been made since he began practicing law, the conviction should not impact his law license.

Other cases on the Supreme Court docket next week involve oil and gas interest in mineral rights, election misinformation, and property tax exemptions for the Ohio State University Airport.

This story was originally published by the Ohio Capital Journal and republished here with permission.

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