The Court of Appeals of Indiana cited the Parkland, Florida, shooting when it upheld a protective order last week by Seymour Community Schools against a parent who protested near the school while armed.
“As the recent tragic events in Parkland, Florida, have reminded us, some persons who might present a threat to a school have had a relationship with the school that school officials are in a unique position to identify,” the court wrote in its decision.
The case started in August 2017 when a father, whose child had been molested by a former Seymour Middle School teacher, stood near the school on the first day of classes with a sign that read “We protect pedophiles,” according to court documents.
He had tried unsuccessfully to receive financial compensation from the school to help pay medical bills for his child, who had become suicidal after the molestation.
He had called the Seymour Police Department the day before his protest to say he would be at the middle school on the public sidewalk and that he “might have a weapon.”
The father, who has a license to carry, had a gun holstered on his hip during his protest. Multiple parents that morning asked school administrators why the father was there and at least one said parent was distressed that the first thing his child saw that morning was a man with a gun.
The district superintendent greeted the father and asked why he was protesting. The superintendent then asked if the man would put the gun in his car, saying in court documents he considered the gun a major threat given the nature and history of violence at schools.
The father declined and asked how the superintendent would feel if he brought his AK-47 assault rifle. He added he would back at the high school later that afternoon.
The superintendent said the man also alluded to another weapon in his pocket that he did not show. Believing the man’s words and actions to be threatening, the school sought and obtained a temporary protective order against the man the same day.
A later hearing established a two-year protective order barring the father from directly or indirectly communicating with Seymour Community Schools and banning him from going to the district’s administrative office, all its schools and its athletic complex.
He is allowed to drop off and pick up his child from school, so long as this is the limited reason he comes to the school and he is unarmed.
The order does not prevent the father from buying or carrying guns anywhere else, and the appeals court noted in its decision that Supreme Court precedent allows laws forbidding guns in sensitive places such as schools.