Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Oregon Teacher Steps Forward

Oregon teacher suing to carry gun in class reveals identity

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — An Oregon teacher suing to assert a right to carry a gun at school has made her name public.

She is Shirley Katz, 43, a teacher for 21 years, the last seven in Medford. She teaches English at South Medford High School.

She went public in interviews beginning Tuesday with Lars Larson on his talk radio show.

Katz says she fears her former husband. They were divorced last year, and she has had two restraining orders against him, the last of which expired in September. She said she missed a deadline to renew it.

Gerry Katz, 54, a photographer, told the Medford Mail Tribune that he's no threat and said his former wife has made unfounded accusations as part of her effort to limit his visitation with their 5-year-old daughter.

Shirley Katz has custody, and Gerry Katz has weekly visitation rights under the divorce decree, which required him to complete an anger management class, the Mail Tribune reported.

On Sept. 26, a judge denied her bid to limit visitation rights and his request for full custody, the paper said.

Gerry Katz also has a concealed weapon permit, but his gun was seized after he waved the weapon at another driver and was charged with disorderly conduct, the paper said.

Shirley Katz filed her suit under the pseudonym Jane Doe. She said she went public after the school district filed a motion to dismiss the case based in part on her anonymity.

"I am definitely under the microscope," she said. "I had sought to avoid that (by remaining anonymous). My son goes to school here. My daughter is in the school system."

Katz filed the lawsuit Sept. 18. Oral arguments are scheduled for Oct. 11.

The Oregon Firearms Foundation is financing her lawsuit.

Oregonians who have concealed weapon permits may carry a gun onto most public properties, including schools, without violating state law.

School districts, however, commonly bar teachers from carrying guns to classrooms.