JROTC gun ranges given brief reprieve
by SEBASTIAN RUIZ
Published - 03/04/09 - 03:22 PM | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The San Diego Unified School District’s Board of Education voted to allow the JROTC air-rifle marksmanship program to continue at Point Loma High School through the end of the current school year.                                 RONAN GRAY | THE BEACON
The San Diego Unified School District’s Board of Education voted to allow the JROTC air-rifle marksmanship program to continue at Point Loma High School through the end of the current school year. RONAN GRAY | THE BEACON
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School officials are allowing Mission Bay and Point Loma high school students in the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) marksmanship program to finish their seasonal competitions before shutting that aspect of the program down permanently.

A school board vote Feb. 24 restored the marksmanship program through the rest of the year.

Board trustee John Lee Evans said the marksmanship component of the JROTC will end after this school year but the rest of the JROTC program has been left intact. Evans, who originally sought to end the air-gun training, voted again to let students at least finish out the season.

“The board’s decision seemed unfair to [the JROTC students] who entered the class this year when [marksmanship] was part of the curriculum,” Evans said.

Evans said he didn’t know about seasonal competitions because “it was never brought up before.”

Board members John de Beck and Richard Barrera voted against the motion to delay ending marksmanship training, reaffirming their earlier votes to halt the air-rifle program. De Beck represents schools in the beach communities.

Board members Katherine Nakamura, Shelia Jackson and Evans voted to return the marksmanship training for the rest of the year.

Schools that include Mission Bay and Point Loma high schools had several competitions left in the year when the San Diego Unified School District board members voted down the program in February, said 1st Sgt. Jack Patague, Point Loma High’s Navy JROTC marksmanship instructor.

Patague said students were disappointed with the decision to take away the marksmanship training, which is a collegiate sport.

“The biggest thing is that I think these kids … felt they weren’t given the opportunity to finish something they started,” Patague said.

Mike Hom, a Mission Bay High School junior and former Marine Corps JROTC student, said he was disappointed when trustees ended the marksmanship program.

“We’re not firing off actual rounds. Its an air rifle,” Hom said. “I don’t understand how [the board of trustees] can justify taking it away.”

He said the marksmanship program taught him responsibility and safety rules.

But David Morales, another Mission Bay High School student, said the board’s decision to reinstate the program sends the wrong message to students.

“The message that it’s OK to have guns in school, to tolerate that. It’s not right,” Morales said.

Morales belongs to the Mission Bay High School chapter of Movimiento Etudiantil Chicano Aztlan — or MEChA — a student political group.

Several students from Lincoln High and other schools have been protesting the marksmanship training over the last year. A Marine Corps JROTC marksmanship program that started at Mission Bay High in the fall of 2007 raised concerns over conflicts with the districtwide “zero tolerance” policy on weapons in schools.

SDUSD board members voted 3-2 in February to end the marksmanship training.
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