Ohio Republican Governor Mike DeWine is expected to sign a bill approved by the state’s GOP-led legislature that would allow school teachers and other school employees to carry a firearm as early as this fall.
The Armed School Security Staff bill, HB 99, seeks to offer schools an additional option to provide stronger security for children following a growing number of school shootings.
“Last week I called on the General Assembly to pass a bill that would allow local school districts, if they so chose, to designate armed staff for school security and safety,” DeWine said in a statement on Thursday.
“My office worked with the General Assembly to remove hundreds of hours of curriculum irrelevant to school safety and to ensure training requirements were specific to a school environment and contained significant scenario-based training. House Bill 99 accomplishes these goals, and I thank the General Assembly for passing this bill to protect Ohio children and teachers. I look forward to signing this important legislation,” he added.
The legislation would require school employees who carry a firearm to obtain 24 hours of training. Employees will also be required to receive eight hours per year of recertification training.
“The bill is meant to override a state Supreme Court ruling earlier this year, which interpreted current Ohio law to require that armed teachers would need the same training as police, amounting to hundreds of hours,” the Associated Press reported. “That would put the practice out of reach of almost all districts because of the time and expense.”
The legislation follows a mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, last week that killed 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School. In Ohio, the legislation follows a tragic 2016 shooting during which a 14-year-old student opened fire on fellow students in a school cafeteria.
In addition to the new bill concerning armed security, DeWine also released a statement regarding a school safety bill, HB 687, that would approve $100 million for school security upgrades across the state. The bill would also add $5 million in new security for higher education campuses in Ohio.
“Last week I called for significant investment to improve our school buildings so that every school building in the state, public and private, can meet the best practices for physical school safety,” DeWine wrote.
“The Capital Budget contains $100 million for school security upgrades at K-12 schools and $5 million for campus security upgrades in higher education. I thank the General Assembly for supporting and protecting our students and teachers,” he noted.
Both bills are part of an emphasis by the governor to strengthen school safety in Ohio.
“We must do more to strengthen our schools’ physical security, and we must ensure that school personnel have the proper training and support to keep themselves and their students safe,” he tweeted last week.
Ohio Department of Public Safety Director Tom Stickrath applauded the new safety proposals.
“The enhancements outlined today by Governor DeWine will go a long way toward ensuring a safer and more secure school environment for students, teachers, and staff all across Ohio,” Stickrath said. “As it has since its creation by Governor DeWine in 2019, the Ohio School Safety Center will continue to provide assistance to schools and partner with local law enforcement to protect those attending and working at Ohio’s schools.”