By: Jacob Kessler
Governor DeWine signed House Bill 99 into law on June 13th. The bill was introduced in the House on February 9th and in the Senate on November 23rd back in 2021.
Known as the School Safety Bill, the legislation sponsored by State Representative Thomas Hall “enhances school safety measures by enabling school districts to have local control of training requirements for arming teachers,” according to a news release from the Ohio House of Representatives.
Also included in the news release, Representative Hall states the following. “This bill is about giving power to local officials to decide what is in the best interest of their schools.”
“In the end, we all want our students and educators to feel safe, and House Bill 99 accomplishes that.”
Governor DeWine spoke to reporters on the day the Bill was signed stating, “This is a local choice, not mandated by the legislature nor by the government.”
“Each school board will determine what is best for their students, their staff and their community.”
The Legislation effectively allows school boards to decide whether or not they will allow teachers, and other school workers, to carry firearms on school property.
A minimum 24 hours’ worth of training must be completed by each teacher at a minimum. Legislation does allow for school boards to require more training; however, it is not required.
The law previously mandated teachers complete a peace officer training course which would equate to 700 hours of training.
Local school superintendents in The Village Reporter coverage area were asked if there was to be any changes made to school policy with the passage of House Bill 99.
At the time of this writing nine responses have been received with each one being provided below.
“The Board of Education has not considered this recent legislation. We are fortunate to have a School Resource Officer in the district funded by the City of Wauseon via the Wauseon Police Department.” – Troy Armstrong
“Currently, Evergreen Local Schools does not permit its staff members to carry firearms within its buildings. With the passage of HB99 just today, we have not had the time to meet with our Board of Education and review the new information in order to formulate a decision regarding any new policies. The safety of our students and employees is a number one priority of Evergreen Local Schools. We employ a School Resource Officer (SRO) every day school is in session as well as maintain a hub-office on our campus for the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office. We have strict safety protocols in place, conduct emergency training and drills consistently, and consult with local law enforcement regularly regarding school safety.” – Eric J. Smola
“I have not yet had an opportunity to speak to the school board about this new law. I will say that personally, I harbor great reservations about arming teachers. To me it feels like this law is a shoddy effort at finding an “easy” solution to a very complex problem. This law does nothing to address the things in our society that have created the environment for school shootings to flourish. As a school administrator I am deeply concerned about weapons of any kind in a school environment. Particularly because of the element of human fallibility that exists in all situations. Adding guns to this mix presents an entirely unknown element of danger to everyone in the building. As a gun owner, I want to see common sense reforms to our current gun laws that will lead to a safer society. Unfortunately, it seems that our elected officials want to take us down the completely opposite path.” – Chris Lake
“At this time this law does not impact Archbold Area Schools. We have partnered with the Archbold Police Department and employ a School Resource Officer, which has been a great addition to our district.” – Jayson Selgo
“As this bill was just passed, we have not had the opportunity to have a thorough discussion on it just yet.” – Josh Clark
North Central Schools
“This needs to be discussed more here at NC. We have an SRO full time now.” – William Hanak
“The Millcreek-West Unity Local School District is fortunate to have a good working relationship with the Village of West Unity. We work together to employ a School Resource Officer (SRO) who is on duty during the school day. Therefore, we plan to continue to utilize this vital resource and do not plan to authorize teachers to bring firearms into the school.” – Jim Wyse
“Bryan City Schools currently employs 2 full-time School Resource Officers, and partners with the City of Bryan Police Department to share a 3rd officer whose duties keep a focus on school patrol and supervision. All of the BCS officers are peace officer trained and operate as a Reserve Officer with the city. Therefore, the school resource officers are fully trained and bear arms. Bryan City Schools are very fortunate to have this level of law enforcement on campus and with our students each day. They (the School Resource Officers) ensure daily safety, carry out district safety plans and trainings, and work collaboratively with staff to perform safety education. School Officials will be reviewing the components of the newly signed bill to see how, or if, the new policies align with our district safety standards and plans.” – Mark Rairigh
“We will not be arming teachers.” – Jamie Grime
Requests for comment were sent to other schools in the coverage area but have not yet been received.
Jacob can be reached at email@example.com