3News’ Isabel Lawrence reached out to school districts in northeast Ohio to find out where they stand on HB 99.
CLEVELAND — House Bill 99, which allows Ohio school boards to choose to arm certain school staff and sets out training requirements for those staff, went into effect Monday, Sept. 12.
“What the bill does essentially reverts to the past practice of allowing local school districts to decide locally whether or not they will allow certain school personnel to be armed on school property,” said the Governor Mike DeWine on June 13. , when he announced that he had signed House Bill 99.
The bill requires staff members who carry weapons at school to undergo an annual criminal background check, up to 24 hours of school-specific initial training and up to eight hours of specific requalification training at school per year to be developed by the Ohio School Safety Center (OSSC). Governor DeWine has directed the OSSC to require the maximum hours of training and create additional training for districts that want more.
In addition, the bill allocates $6 million for the expansion of the OSSC.
3News contacted the Ohio Department of Public Safety to find out if any schools had already implemented House Bill 99 and received the following statement:
“The Ohio School Safety Center (OSSC) is in the process of developing a state training program as required by Bill 99. Once finalized, the OSSC will use this program to train staff members school authorized by their school districts to carry firearms. No requests for training were received as state training is still under development.
Additionally, when 3News asked when the training would be finalized, the department replied that it was working “as quickly as possible to finalize the program.” Once the program is finalized, the department said “Regional Mobile Training Officers will work with schools that choose to arm their staff to ensure they know everything they need to know about program requirements.” .
3News has also reached out to school districts in northeast Ohio to find out their position on House Bill 99. Akron Public School and the Cleveland Metropolitan School District will not arm teachers.
In June, Mark Williamson, director of communications for Akron Public Schools, shared the following statement with 3News regarding House Bill 99:
“Akron Public Schools has several board policies in place prohibiting staff, students, and visitors from carrying firearms into schools. Any adjustments to our practice would require board action based on feedback from families, students, staff and our community on the issue.”
“We strongly believe that bolstering our current investments in security personnel and technology would be the best approach to making us safer. Akron Public Schools believes that allowing staff members to carry weapons would only make us more vulnerable.”
Williamson told 3News on Monday that nothing has changed in the district since they released that statement.
In Cleveland, a spokesperson for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District also told 3News on Monday that there were no updates or changes. The district board of directors unanimously passed a resolution prohibiting staff from being armed at school.
The resolution reads in part: ‘The Cleveland Municipal School District Board of Education believes that teachers and other educators in our schools, who educate, mentor and nurture their students, should not be asked to arming with deadly weapons in a misguided attempt to make their students safer. Here is the full resolution:
At an August 4 Education Council working session for schools in the city of Parma, the subject of Bill 99 was discussed, but no decision was made. Currently, staff are unarmed in schools in Parma.
District Superintendent Dr. Charles Smialek shared the following statement with 3News:
“During our work session on August 4, members of our leadership team, local school safety experts, and our school board discussed the safety measures we are currently using and the possibility of adding more to” strengthen” our schools. We have agreed to continue to review our procedures throughout the year and explore others, including the provisions outlined in House Bill 99. Currently, Ohio does not have provided the streamlined course they promised to structure to help school staff members gain the ability to carry a firearm on campus. continue to discuss the possibility of arming staff members once we have been able to study the certification course promised in Bill 99.”
Local schools in Chardon told 3News that a letter from their superintendent, sent to families on June 8, remains relevant. In the letter, Dr. Michael Hanlon wrote in part that “the subject of arming school personnel in Chardon schools under the provisions of this pending legislation is not under consideration by our school board for the moment”.
Euclid City Schools told 3News that while they approved a resolution to add armed security personnel to the staff, they have no plan to arm anyone else. Here is the statement shared by 3News by Euclid City Schools:
“The Euclid School Board approved a resolution this summer adding armed security personnel to our staff. These positions are specifically trained by OPOTA (or equivalent training) and professionally selected armed guards at our schools. is not a step towards arming our teachers under the provisions approved in HB 99 – there are no plans to arm any of our staff outside of these OPOTA certified, sanity-checked armed guards. The Euclid City Schools property remains an unarmed campus unless specifically authorized by the school board. The fundamental purpose of one of these positions is to defend children, teachers, and staff from threats while allowing teachers to teach and students to learn.
In addition to armed security personnel, at all school buildings in the Euclid District, metal detection systems will be used for middle and high school students, adult visitors and non-regular employees. At the Early Learning Village, Educational Options Center and elementary schools, metal detectors will be used for adult visitors and non-regular employees (such as substitute teachers), but not for students at this time.
Euclid stakeholders want the district to provide more comprehensive social-emotional support to our students. As a result, in addition to the physical layers of protection approved over the summer, two Student Mentoring Specialist positions were created at Euclid High School. These student mentoring specialists help create positive interactions between students and act as allies that students can count on for support.
These important safety and well-being initiatives were in addition to the existing supports we were already providing to promote student and community well-being. Metal detectors and armed guards complement our PBIS programs, student mentoring specialists, behavioral specialists and psychologists to keep the school safe. We also have partnerships with NEON Healthcare, Right at School Before and Aftercare, Peter James Development & Independent Living Inc. and Chancelight Behavioral Health and Education Solutions. Additionally, the Educational Options Center at Memorial Park School opened this year to help create a holistic culture of wellness at Euclid Schools.”