(CN) - Michigan law bars anyone from carrying concealed pistols onto school grounds, but one parent wants a judge to let him openly carry his gun at an elementary school.
Kenneth Herman describes himself in the March 5 complaint against Clio Area School District as the single parent of student at Edgerton Elementary.
The plaintiff made local headlines in 2013 when he walked into the Vienna Township school on Sept. 4 to pick up his daughter with a loaded pistol strapped to his waist.
In the lawsuit Herman filed in Genesee County Circuit Court last week, Herman notes that he had gone to the school a few days before that incident, again while "openly carrying a pistol on his person," to get a copy of his daughter's bus schedule.
Herman says he spoke school principal Katrina Mitchell that day, and that Mitchell made no mention of the pistol.
Since Herman noticed a sign about the school's status as a "weapon-free zone," however, he "informed the school officials that he believed that the sign that the school had posted was without legal authority an contrary to Michigan law," according to the complaint.
Herman, who has a concealed pistol license, notes that "possession of an openly carried pistol on Michigan is not an unlawful activity," and that "state law pre-empts a local unit of government from regulating firearms possession."
When confronted by the police that school officials summoned on Sept. 4, Herman says he complied with their requests to leave the school grounds.
The school placed automated calls to all parents that night describing the incident; Herman meanwhile emailed the district superintendent, principal Mitchell and the county sheriff "with all the applicable laws surrounding his activity or carrying a pistol," the complaint states.
Herman says the teacher in his daughter class thereafter "advised the class that students must learn and drill the school's lockdown procedure 'because [plaintiff Herman's daughter's] dad carries a gun.'" [Bracketed text in original.]
When Herman attended a meeting with the superintendent and the school board on Sept. 10 at the Clio Schools administration building, Herman was again openly carrying a pistol, according to the complaint.
Herman says the officials agreed at this meeting to edit the sign but "not to comply with state law by otherwise prohibiting plaintiff Herman from entering the school if armed."
"The principal, board members and the superintendent indicated that the Clio Area School district was following a policy of the Genesee County Intermediate School District's policy of not allowing open carry on school grounds," the complaint states.
A Sept. 10 article on MLive.com about Herman's meeting describes "the new signs" as announcing the building as a "Drug Free Weapons Free Zone."
The signs will also "include an explanation of the countywide policy that forces school districts to go into lockdown when anyone arrives on school property carrying a firearm," that article states.
Herman says in his complaint that the school denied him access several times throughout the year when he tried to openly carry his pistol there.
Usually Herman was trying to pick up his daughter after classes, but he was also shut out of a parent-teacher conference and a field trip to the Detroit Zoo that he was supposed to chaperone, according to the complaint.
Herman says he is facing the same problem this school year.
Though the school initially allowed him entry "without incident" on Nov. 21, 2014, he was thereafter asked to leave because the principal saw the pistol he was openly carrying, according to the complaint.
Herman says the school is threatening to bring criminal trespass charges if it happens again.
Michigan Open Carry Inc., which joins the complaint as a co-plaintiff, notes that its members are similarly situated.
The group and Herman want a judge to block enforcement of the school district's "invalid attempt at legislation/regulation, which is pre-empted by state law."
They are represented by Bloomfield Hills attorney Dean Greenblatt.
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