By jeanne starmack
A Campbell Memorial High School teacher who had a gun in his car on school property settled his criminal case in court Tuesday with a plea to a lesser offense.
City police stopped Jason McCray, 36, an integrated-business teacher at the high school for the past six years, at Sixth Street and Blossom Avenue at 3:06 p.m. Nov. 8 and cited for going 34 mph in a 20 mph school zone, according to a police report.
During the stop, McCray told the officer he had a gun in his car and had a concealed-carry license. The gun was underneath the driver’s seat, the report says.
McCray told the officer he was a teacher and had just left work. He said the gun was in his car over his vacation.
The officer gave McCray back the gun because his permit was legal. Police, however, eventually charged McCray with conveyance or possession of a deadly weapon on school property, a fifth-degree felony.
“Mr. McCray broke the law, and that needs to be officially addressed,” said city Police Chief Drew Rauzan. “We want to spread the word that [if] anyone, under any circumstances, if for any reason, brings a weapon onto school property, including parking lots, they will be charged.”
Police issued a warrant for McCray’s arrest last week, and on Friday, prosecuting and defense attorneys worked out a summons so he could turn himself in on that warrant for the next court day, Rauzan said.
McCray turned himself in Tuesday, was arrested and booked, then appeared in municipal court to plead guilty to a lesser charge of aggravated trespassing, a first-degree misdemeanor.
A judge fined him $250 and gave him a 180-day suspended jail sentence.
He is to turn his gun in at the police department and will not get it back, Rauzan said.
Schools Superintendent Matthew Bowen said the district placed McCray on paid administrative leave Monday, and will schedule a formal disciplinary hearing that will include union representation for the teacher.
He said McCray has been “professional, cooperative and honest” about what was happening.
“We are following the process to the letter of the law,” Bowen said. “Our goal is to maintain a safe environment for our schoolchildren.”
The district also will report the case to the Ohio Department of Education, he said.
A statement Bowen issued says the district will not comment further until its investigation is finished.
McCray had no comment.