Thousands of Ohio students held demonstrations Wednesday pushing for stricter state and federal gun laws in order to make their schools safer, but one Ohio Board of Education member believes school security issues should be handled at the local level.
Ohio law requires each school administrator to create an emergency response plan for individual school buildings.
Those plans should include protocols for how to respond to any threat of student safety and how to notify parents, but the state does not dictate specific security requirements for schools in terms of the hardware in a building, such as metal detectors and security cameras.
Some districts, like Georgetown Exempted Village Schools in southwestern Ohio, allow certain teachers to carry firearms.
State Board of Education member Nick Owens, who lives in Georgetown, said each district is unique and should have the right to make its own security decisions.
“I think Georgetown schools in rural Brown County is a lot different than Columbus City schools and I think each should be decided as a local control issue,” he said after a board discussion of school safety procedures.
Cleveland Board Member Meryl Johnson said arming teachers won’t make schools safer.
What will, she said, is hiring more social workers who can look for warning signs in students and intervene before a violent situation ever occurs.
“When you look at what’s going on, it’s the trusting relationships, it’s having someone to talk,” she said.
“We have a lot of lonely children, a lot of hurting children,” Johnson added. “They need somebody who is going to be able to listen.”