Middle School Campus Monitor Dismissed for Carrying Gun

, Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Tue, June 18 2013 at 7:04 PM, Updated: Tue, June 18 2013 at 10:36 PM

On Tuesday, a Medford School District employee appealed a decision by the board to dismiss him on charges of insubordination when he brought a gun to school.

Donald Later was working as a campus hall monitor at Hedrick Middle School.

He's a retired Jackson County Sheriff's Deputy Donald Later, who was working as a Hedrick Middle School hall monitor, said he wasn't breaking any rules when he carried his gun onto school grounds.

"Started thinking about what would I do if I was faced with that situation," began Later.

He was talking about a situation similar to the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut that killed 20 children and six adults.

"I would have to insert myself into the situation just to protect the children. I wouldn't want to go up against an armed opponent unarmed," said Later.

But his interpretation of Oregon law and school code differed from school district officials who said no employees are allowed to carry a gun on school grounds. However, even after he was told not to do it...

"I asked him are you carrying right now? And he said yes I am."

That act of defiance put him on paid administrative leave and eventually got him dismissed back in May.

Now a little over a month later, Later appealed his dismissal said he's legally exempt from rules regarding guns on campus because of his law enforcement background.

"Weapons carried by law enforcement personnel are exempt and one of the ORS' they cite [...] does include honorably retired law enforcement officers."

The definition of what constituted "law enforcement personnel" was at issue between Later and the Medford School District's attorney.

Ultimately school board members disagreed with Later. They upheld his dismissal on grounds of insubordination.

"What we need to know is when we give direction to someone, that they're going to abide by it and that's the really hard thing about this. This is a good man, but he made a decision that went outside the directives that he had and could have undermined our safety protocols," said Dr. Phil Long, Superintendent of the Medford School District.

Later said he recognizes he could have handled the situation better but he stands by his intention in having a gun.

When asked if he would comply with school rules if the board allowed him to keep his position...he said he would.

Later was also a probationary employee which allowed the district to take him off the job for any reason at all. He was employed with the Medford School District for roughly four months.


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About the Author

Christine Pitawanich

Christine Pitawanich was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, she received a master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York.

Christine also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Washington.

Before joining the NBC5 News team, she had the opportunity to file reports from Washington D.C. for WFFT FOX Ft. Wayne News in Indiana. Christine has also interned at KOMO-TV in Seattle.

Christine loves to ski, try new food and have fun in the outdoors.

Catch Christine anchoring weekdays on NBC 5 News at 5pm.

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