School district asks judge to toss suit over firearm policy

EVANSTON — Uinta County School District No. 1 has responded to a lawsuit filed by Evanston residents Tim Beppler and Monica Vozakis over the district’s adoption of policy CKA, which provides for district staff to apply for approval to carry concealed firearms on district property. The district has filed a counter motion to dismiss the suit. 

The suit filed by Beppler and Vozakis alleges the district failed to follow proper rulemaking procedures as required by the Wyoming Administrative Procedures Act (WAPA) and asks that the policy be declared null and void and that the district be directed to start the policy-drafting process over again. 

The district’s response includes a point-by-point answer to the claims detailed in the petitioners’ complaint. The district, represented by UCSD No. 1 attorney Geoff Phillips, asserts the plaintiffs lack standing and jurisdiction to file suit. Further, the district claims the plaintiffs have misapplied the requirements of WAPA, stating the requirements referenced in the complaint apply only to “state agencies” and not “local agencies,” such as a school board. The district asserts all requirements applicable to “local agencies” were, in fact, followed. 

In the suit, Beppler and Vozakis claim there would be irreparable harm as a result of policy CKA; Beppler as a taxpayer due to the expenditure of public funds on a policy that was improperly drafted, and Vozakis as the parent of minor children who would be forced to attend school in classrooms where firearms may be present. 

The plaintiffs also filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to halt the implementation of policy CKA while the litigation is ongoing, again citing the irreparable harm that would result from the district moving forward with the policy. 

The district, however, argues in the filed opposition to the motion for an injunction that it is actually the district that would suffer irreparable harm from such an injunction. The opposition states, “Gun control will never happen in Wyoming,” and states, “If the District is enjoined from implementing CKA as intended, the delay will leave Evanston schools unprotected and exposed to violent attacks in the same way Cokeville, Columbine, Sandy Hook and many other schools were exposed and unprotected when they were violently attacked.”

The district’s response also states, “Plaintiffs are valued and respected members of the Evanston community, but the Board does not believe their opinions reflect the values and opinions of the Evanston community.” 

Further, the district claims an injunction can only be issued if the suit itself is likely to succeed on its merits. The district’s opposition states, “Plaintiffs have no likelihood of success on the merits of the allegations.” 

The same reasoning, namely that the plaintiffs have no likelihood of success because of the misapplication of WAPA requirements, provides the basis for a motion to dismiss that was filed by UCSD No. 1. 

A hearing in the matter was originally scheduled for July 12 before Third District Court Judge Joseph Bluemel. The district, however, filed a peremptory disqualification of Bluemel, which, according to court documents, can be filed without showing cause. 

With the disqualification of Bluemel, the case is now set to be heard by Judge Nena James of Sweetwater County. The new hearing date had not yet been set as of press time.


More In Homepage