63.1 F
The Villages
Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Villager teaching math fights for right to take gun to school

Jonathan Forrester
Jonathan Forrester

A Villager teaching math to local high schoolers is fighting for his right to take his gun to school.

Village of Fenney resident Jonathan Forrester, a math teacher at South Sumter High School in Bushnell, has challenged the Sumter County School Board’s policy banning firearms in vehicles on school property. He claims the policy violates state law.

Prior to filing his lawsuit, Forrester, who served aboard a U.S. Navy submarine, had been accused of having a gun in his desk at the school. He consented to a search of his desk, backpack and car by the school resource officer. No weapon was found. After that incident, Forrester inquired as to the school district’s firearm policy as he wanted to be able to transport a gun to and from work in his personal vehicle and keep it in his car on school grounds.

unnamed file
South Sumter High School.

The board’s policy states, “No person except law enforcement and security officers may have in his/her possession any weapon, illegal substance, or dangerous substance.”  The school board informed Forrester that he would be subject to discipline, up to and including termination, if he violated the school board’s policy. The school administrators advised Forrester that he could either park on campus and refrain from carrying a firearm in his vehicle or park off campus and carry his firearm in his vehicle. Accordingly, Forrester told the principal that he would comply with the policy until the policy had been reviewed.

A few months after the first search, another anonymous complaint was lodged that Forrester had a gun in his desk. Forrester then consented to yet another search of his desk and no firearm was found. The second search prompted him to take legal action.

After seeking an attorney’s review of the rule and seeking an advisory opinion from the attorney general, he did not receive a definitive opinion. He then sought declaratory and injunctive relief.

The trial court ruled that the school’s policy did not conform to state law. The trial court then found that Forrester had standing to file suit but that he was not adversely affected by the policy as he was not penalized by the district with loss of pay or termination. The trial court also noted that he complied with the rule.

Forrester then sought a review by the Fifth District Court of Appeals.

The trial court’s finding that the rule did not comply with state law was upheld by the higher court. However, the trial court was reversed on the issue of the rule’s adverse affect on Forrester. The court held, “In sum, Forrester was adversely affected by the school board’s policy that was enforced in violation of section 790.33. As a result, the trial court erred in determining that he was prohibited from obtaining the declaratory and injunctive relief sought in his complaint. We therefore reverse the order on review and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.”

Forrester’s case has been returned to the trial court based on the findings of the 5th District Court of Appeals.

Bring back the pool attendants so IDs can be checked

In a Letter to the Editor, a Villager remembers that when she moved here there were attendants checking IDs at the pools. She contends it’s time to bring back the pool attendants.

Someone is going to get killed at Morse Gate

A Village of Mira Mesa resident is afraid someone is going to get killed if a problem is not addressed.

Truman Executive Golf Course in terrible shape!

A Village of Mallory Square resident recently played the Truman Executive Golf Course and reports that the course was in terrible shape. Read his Letter to the Editor.

Fake Christian is about to be revealed in court

A Village of Osceola Hills resident predicts Donald Trump’s fake Christianity will be unveiled in court this week.

Brenda Turner is right about flying of repugnant flags

In a Letter to the Editor, a Village of Palo Alto resident offers praise for a letter from Brenda Turner, who took on the issue of political flags flying in The Villages.