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State Board of Education deadlocked over gun bills

young kids playing with toys on floor
Jennifer Guerra
Michigan Radio

Some of the state’s major education entities can’t come to a consensus about recent gun legislation.

The bills would, among other things, let people who get a special license carry a concealed weapon into schools.

Brian Whiston is the state superintendent. He says the Department of Education is okay with the bills, but says they need to get rid of the requirement that all schools allow concealed carry.

“In some communities it’s kind of natural," he said. "In some communities it’s not. By allowing the local districts to opt in and out is something we would support.”

But the State Board of Education is in a gridlock. The board hit another partisan roadblock today when it discussed the controversial gun bills that are making their way through the Legislature.

The bills would, in part, require schools to allow people with a special license to carry a concealed weapon. They were passed by the Senate last week.

The board is made up of four Republicans and four Democrats. They discussed whether the board should issue a statement against the bills.

Cassandra Ulbrich is a Democrat on the board. She says the board needs to come out with a strong statement against the bills.

“These are zones that are protected by people that are trained professionally to protect them," she said. "So the good guy with the gun, is the guy wearing the badge. Not someone who took eight hours of training.”

Republicans on the board say the time isn’t right to issue a statement.

“We need to discuss a solution instead of having a rhetorical conversation that distracts us from that," said Nikki Snyder, a Republican on the board. She says the board should be more focused on school safety instead of hypothetical questions about guns.

“We need to discuss a solution instead of having a rhetorical conversation that distracts us from that.”

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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