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Crookston School Board revises yearbook policy on photos of students with guns

Crookston High School student Riley Schultz. Submitted photo.

CROOKSTON, Minn. — The Crookston School Board is revising its policy on yearbook photos following a controversy that erupted over a student's request that a photo of him holding his gun be published as his senior photo in the high school yearbook.

Board members voted earlier this week to permit photos of the school's trap-shooting team members, posing with their guns, to be published on yearbook pages devoted to the team, amending a Jan. 8 decision to ban all photos that included guns.

Controversy initially flared, mostly on social media, after Riley Schultz, a senior at Crookston High School, submitted a photo of himself holding his gun for inclusion in the yearbook.

Eric Bubna, principal of the high school, who had authority to decide on appropriateness of yearbook photos, asked the School Board at its Jan. 8 meeting to consider supporting "a policy or practice that said we just don't allow it (photos with guns), and of course they did," he said.

However, "the public was not understanding why the trap team couldn't have theirs (included)," Bubna said

"The entire point of asking the board to approve something was so that we could be fair and we could be consistent and that I was not being put in a position that I had to be the judge and jury," he said.

"Guns are a very hot topic," Bubna said, "and I don't want to be the judge and jury on which photos are appropriate and which photos are not appropriate."

Crookston Superintendent Chris Bates said, "This is a polarizing issue. People have strong feelings on both sides. I think to leave the decision (about photos) to one person, without any guidelines, becomes more and more difficult."

With this week's School Board decision, "we have guidelines that are little more clear now, and will be easier for the principal to follow, whether it's Mr. Bubna or the next principal or the principal after that," Bates said.

"It helps us to be fair and consistent. We're always trying to do that."

Bubna, who is in his fourth year as principal of Crookston High School, is "100 percent" comfortable with the board's decision this week, he said.

During his tenure he estimates there's been "a handful of seniors who wanted to have a firearm in their photo," Bubna said, noting that he has allowed such photos and "there hasn't been an outcry."

"It's not that anyone here is anti-hunting or anti-guns," he said, "or this is the type of thing where we're trying to suppress that stuff."

The board's action "is an acknowledgement that (guns) are a hot-button issue," he said.

"We can all agree that there are photos of students with a gun that would be perfectly fine, and there are photos that would be completely not fine, and then there's everything in between. Most things fall in the gray area, so this way, there's not any gray and we're just able to be fair and consistent."

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