Trapshooting team photos with guns are OK, but it looks like senior portraits with firearms are a no-go; family says they’re consulting with an attorney

    With around a dozen students and adults involved with the Crookston Pirate Trapshooting Team in attendance, the Crookston School Board on Monday unanimously approved a policy that will allow team members to be pictured with their shotguns in the high school yearbook, whether the photos are posed or are candid photos of the kids shooting trap.

    Monday's action comes two weeks after the board approved a yearbook photo policy that prohibited the inclusion of all firearms, whether it was an individual student's senior photo or the trapshooting team. CHS Principal Eric Bubna brought the issue to the board's attention on Jan. 8 because current senior Riley Schultz and his parents wanted his senior photo in the 2018 yearbook to be one showing him posed next to his pickup while holding a rifle that he'd assembled by himself. Bubna, who said over the previous four years he'd approved a few senior yearbook photos including firearms that were hunting-related in nature, brought the matter to the board earlier this month, he explained, because Schultz's photo isn't hunting-related and he's not a member of the trapshooting team.

    When a public backlash, mostly via Facebook, erupted after the board’s Jan. 8 vote, Board Chair Frank Fee announced the next morning that the board would reconsider the matter on Jan. 22 and vote on a resolution approving a scaled-back yearbook photo policy involving the inclusion of firearms that would allow the trapshooting team to be pictured with their shotguns.

    Monday, board member Dave Davidson said he’d spoken with Darren Gjerswold, a coach/advisor of the trapshooting team, after the Jan. 8 meeting and that it was an excellent discussion and that Gjerswold convinced him that allowing the trapshooting team to be pictured with their guns was the right thing to do. Davidson also noted that Gjerswold, who in comments to the board earlier in the meeting spoke of the many positive attributes of the trapshooting team, had reached out to him when the trapshooting team was first formed several years ago to ask if he’d be some sort of liaison to the rest of the board. “So I am for this group,” Davidson said. “I am a hunter and I have nothing against firearms.”

    The “amendment” to the policy approved on Jan. 8 allows “appropriate” photos of the trapshooting team that include their firearms. It was determined Monday that “appropriate” would include posed photos of the team or individual members, and candid photos of them actually shooting at trap. “It’s not like they’re aiming their guns at the camera or anything,” Fee noted.

Schultz photo still a no-go

    In its current language, the resolution approved Monday or the policy in general would not allow for senior portraits in the yearbook that include guns to be considered by Bubna, the yearbook advisor or anyone for their appropriateness or inappropriateness. The only photos that will be allowed in the yearbook that include firearms will be on the trapshooting team’s page.

    Breanna Rasmusson, Riley Schultz’s mom, addressed the board near the end of the meeting, asking them to reconsider the policy as it applies to her son’s photo, too. While stressing she supports the trapshooting team “110 percent,” Rasmusson said the Jan. 8 board vote was “rash” in nature. “I think it was jumped on way too fast,” she said.

    The Jan. 8 discussion and vote was not included on the board’s agenda that day, and Bubna’s monthly report to the board, which referenced a discussion to be had on a policy regarding firearms in yearbook photos, was not included in the board packet of materials disseminated to the media in the days leading up to the meeting because Bubna did not submit it to District Office Manager Marilyn Wahouske on time for it to be included.

    “I’m asking you to reconsider the guidelines, rules and regulations, rather than just one man being judge and jury when it comes to being a yes or no,” Rasmusson said to the board. She asked Riley, seated next to her, if he wanted to say anything to the board, and he declined.

    Asked by the Times if the family has retained legal counsel, Rasmusson said they are currently consulting with an attorney.

Facebook ‘bullying’

    Trapshooting parent Nicole Bernd also addressed the board and referred back to the firestorm of Facebook comments that ignited after the Jan. 8 board meeting. “It was bullying, it was awful, and there’s a ripple effect to everything we do,” she said. “A young man was put in a position he was not asked to be put in. The comments made were very hurtful. That was maybe no one’s intention, but it happened. I’d ask that we all keep that in mind, to know that the things we do affect people.”