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By Lauren Foreman/ The Californian
BY LAUREN FOREMAN Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
A junior high vice principal arrested and jailed for hours after bringing a gun to school in a backpack Thursday morning was later released after police concluded he had not broken the law.
Bakersfield police had taken Tevis Junior High Vice Principal Kent Williams, 51, into custody sometime after 9 a.m. when a BPD school resource officer was told a staff member had a firearm on campus.
Williams was cooperative with the school officer and revealed there was a firearm concealed in a backpack in his office.
But after a police review of complicated California penal code, authorities determined Williams was within his rights to carry a gun on campus, police spokesman Sgt. Joe Grubbs announced about 4:15 p.m.
Williams holds a valid Kern County concealed weapons permit that allows him to have a firearm on a school campus, Grubbs said.
Grubbs said he doubts any charges will be filed against Williams, which is up to prosecutors. The police department consulted the Kern County District Attorney’s office, as well as the California Gun Free Zone Act, in reaching its conclusions, Grubbs said.
But Williams remained on paid administrative leave Thursday evening with the Panama-Buena Vista Union School District for violating district policy by not getting superintendent permission to carry a concealed weapon on campus, said Assistant Superintendent Gerrie Kincaid.
“We’re a gun-free zone,” she said.
Williams earns a salary of $94,621 and has been vice principal at the school since August 2010.
Some key details about what happened at the school remain unclear.
Kincaid said she immediately notified police when a district administrator called her with an anonymous tip that a staff member had a gun on campus. Neither she nor Grubbs knew who gave the tip nor how the gun was discovered.
“It was sketchy who was delivering that information,” Kincaid said.
The district continued with normal safety protocol after Williams’ arrest Thursday, Kincaid said. Protocol included sending an automated call notifying parents at 12:30 p.m.
Joey Demichino was one of those parents. Attending a previously scheduled Tevis Junior High parent information session Thursday night, he said he felt safer knowing an administrator and trained gun-owner could protect students should a threat occur on campus.
“I support the man,” Demichino said.
He was one of several parents at the session who said the administrator should not have been arrested.
Timi Mongold, another parent, said Williams was not breaking any laws and what concens her is that police did not know that.
“BPD does not have the right to go around and arrest people for violating policy,” she said.
Parents described Williams as a good man and administrator who has been an advocate for children.
Nathalia Martin, an eighth-grader at Tevis, said he is a popular staffer and she doesn’t think arresting him was right.
“He’s actually a really cool person,” she said.
Her dad, Manuel Martin, supported the arrest. He said with so many school shootings happening across the country, students don’t need another potential threat.
“There is no reason to bring guns to school,” Manuel Martin said.