Skip to main content

Dozens Of Gun Control Advocates Attend Cajon Valley School Board Meeting

Demonstrators during the

Photo by KPBS Staff

Above: Demonstrators during the " "March For Our Lives" in downtown San Diego, March 24, 2018.

Update: 9 p.m., April 10, 2018:

About three dozen gun control advocates attended a Cajon Valley Union School Board meeting Tuesday to express dismay that a counselling intern and students at Hillsdale Middle School were allegedly silenced during a nationwide school walkout last month.

“Hillsdale missed the opportunity to teach students about our First Amendment freedom of speech, to teach about being civic-minded citizens, about engaging in dialogue on current events, and about critical thinking and content analysis,” said Susan Tatum at the meeting. "Hillsdale taught its student advocates about disciplinary action and reproach."

The intern, Margaret Morghen, also spoke at the meeting. She said she was asked to leave Hillsdale and never seek employment in the district because she broke its policy on speaking to the press. Morghen told the San Diego Union-Tribune that, unlike other area schools, Hillsdale leadership gave five students detention for trying to join the walkout.

“I will continue to be vocal about what I see in our public school system,” Morghen told the board and superintendent. “As an educational counselor, this is my vocation. Whether I am employed, interning, volunteering or simply exercising my rights as a citizen of the United States, I stand with these intelligent and strong students who are teaching us to rouse ourselves and fight for gun control.”

Photo by Megan Burks

Margaret Morghen, center, poses for a picture with members of San Diegans for Gun Violence Prevention outside of a Cajon Valley Union School District meeting, April 10, 2018.

Morghen said her principal did not provide adequate guidance leading up to the walkout, leaving staff “nervous, unsure and insecure.” Assistant Superintendent Karen Minshew said the school offered the students ways to express themselves in class, but that students could not walk out of class unsupervised.

Minshew also said Morghen was fired for multiple reasons, not just speaking to the press, but did not elaborate. Morghen said she was never spoken to about performance issues, nor was she told about a media policy.

Four individuals spoke in favor of the board’s actions before and after the walkout.

“I want to thank the board for not politicizing the school shooting in Parkland and actually doing the work to protect and serve students,” said Michael Schwartz, executive director of the San Diego County Gun Owners Political Action Committee.

Trustee Jim Miller sits on the PAC’s board.

Superintendent David Miyashiro, who flew in from a conference to attend the meeting, did not speak on the matter.

Original story:

Cajon Valley Union School District Superintendent David Miyashiro took a last-minute flight home from an education technology conference in Canada to attend Tuesday’s school board meeting. About 90 gun control advocates are expected to show up at the meeting to give public comment.

The East County middle and elementary school district caught the attention of San Diegans For Gun Violence Prevention after reports one of its schools gave detention to five students who had hoped to participate in a nationwide school walkout following a deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida, and fired a counseling intern who sat in solidarity with the students. The district said the intern was fired for multiple reasons and that the students had sanctioned opportunities to express themselves but chose to walk out of class unsupervised. Assistant Superintendent Karen Minshew said the detentions would not show up on their student records.

RELATED: Thousands Denounce Gun Violence At San Diego’s ‘March For Our Lives’

SD4GVP members were further riled by comments from Trustee Jim Miller. The group is asking local school districts to adopt resolutions supporting federal gun legislation. In an emailed response, Miller told SD4GVP that using the Parkland shooting to advance its legislative agenda is in poor taste. Miller confirmed the authenticity of the email provided to KPBS and said he was writing as a private citizen.

In this response I do not claim to speak for the balance of the board.

I sit as a founding member to the San Diego County Gun Owner's Political Action Committee. I am a Life member of the NRA. I have been shooting since I was 6 years old. With all due respect the "facts" stated in your resolutions are simply not accurate. The use of tragedies such as Parkland for use of forwarding an agenda with the goal of weakening and ultimately eliminating private citizen's Second Amendment Right is in exceptionally poor taste.

Simply because the weak minded, uninformed and far left leaning board at San Diego Unified signed on to this is not surprising. Given that our board, in unified voice, openly opposed AB 424 you and your organizations should have no such illusions that Cajon Valley will follow suit anytime soon. But again, each board member will make their own decision.

When your organizations want to really have an honest conversation as to how we can better protect our students and NOT impede on the rights of millions of lawful gun owners I will be happy to meet with your representatives anytime and any place. Until then I can assure you that the San Diego County Gun Owners PAC, California Rifle and Pistol Association, NRA and millions of law abiding and gun owning citizens will stand and oppose the unconstitutional assaults on the Second Amendment and the right of citizens to protect themselves and their families.

Respectfully,

James P. Miller, Jr., Esq. Board Member, Cajon Valley Union School District Board Member, San Diego County Gun Owner's PAC

Carol Landale, a member of SD4GVP and president of the San Diego Chapter of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said school boards have an obligation to stand up for their students on the issue of gun violence. She said San Diego Unified, Poway Unified, Vista Unified, San Dieguito Union and the Cardiff School District have passed resolutions in recent weeks.

RELATED: For San Diego Students, School Walkout Is A Warm-Up For The Ballot Box

“Our concern, and the reason we’re going to the school board meeting, is that the Cajon Valley School District is putting gun rights before student safety,” she said.

Miller contested that claim.

“In my opinion, our district is exceptionally cautious and caring about students and their safety,” he said. “Instead of passing these resolutions that, frankly, are a waste of everyone’s time because they’re meaningless, in my personal opinion, we’re taking active, actual steps to investigate and review the security of each of our campuses. By doing that I think we’re being much more proactive.”

RELATED: How San Diego Schools Handle Threats Of Mass Violence

The board as a whole has yet to consider passing a gun control resolution. Last year, however, it opposed Assembly Bill 424 to prevent anyone but sworn officers and security guards from carrying guns on campus. Previously, superintendents could allow staff with concealed carry permits to bring guns to school. Miller said the board’s opposition was driven by concern over maintaining local control, not gun rights.

Miyashiro said he hopes to make tonight’s meeting to address community concerns about his district. He said his plane is scheduled to arrive in San Diego at 4 p.m. The meeting begins at 5 p.m. at the district offices in El Cajon.

San Diegans For Gun Violence Prevention is asking local school districts to adopt resolutions supporting federal gun legislation. KPBS education reporter Megan Burks says about 90 of its members are attending the Cajon Valley Union School Board Meeting tonight to apply pressure — riled up by a response from one of its trustees.

Transcript

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.