Gov. Mike DeWine signed an executive order Wednesday to establish the Ohio School Safety Center, saying more needs to be done to make sure Ohio’s schools are safe.
The seven-member office, which will work with the Ohio Department of Public Safety, will focus on being a safety resource for schools and students throughout Ohio
DeWine says the center will be a key part of preventing violence in schools.
Among the center’s priorities:
- Intelligence analysts will scan social media looking for posts that could be threatening in schools.
- The center's staff will educate schools and communities on using Ohio’s Safer School Helpline (844-723-3764), a phone line that takes tips on possible security problems.
- The center’s website (saferschools.ohio.gov) will feature news and schedules for upcoming training.
- Center staff will review school safety plans and provide technical support for schools that require that assistance.
- Staff will establish threat assessment policy for schools.
- The center will host an annual summit where school officials and security professionals can share best practices.
- The center will bring in professionals who will help it be up-to-date with the most effective school safety protocols available.
Tom Stickrath, the director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety, says he hopes the center will be a model for the rest of the nation. He says it will allow schools, parents, students and community members to access a wide range of services, including mental health care.
At Wednesday’s press conference, however, DeWine didn’t specifically address a recent safety situation at a school near Sparta. Back in March, two first grade students at Highland Elementary reportedly removed a gun from an unlocked case.
A school official, the grandmother of one of those students, was authorized to use that weapon as part of a concealed-carry program to protect the school from gun violence. She was docked three days worth of pay and is no longer allowed to be part of that program.
DeWine says there is training for school personnel who carry weapons in schools but it isn't required at this point. Specifics about the training school personnel had in this case are not available at this point.
The governor also said that school resource officers play a worthwhile role, and he thinks the legislature could look at putting more of them in schools.
The school safety order comes in the wake of the Dayton mass shooting, after which DeWine unveiled a 17-point plan to reduce gun violence. The governor called his plan "comprehensive." and says he believes all of the components will be able to pass the Ohio General Assembly.
In recent days, however, legislative leaders have questioned both proposals for background checks and "safety protection orders," saying they want to make sure the Second Amendment rights are protected.