COLUMBUS — The training curriculum for school staff members who will be armed on school grounds has been set by the state.
Gov. Mike DeWine on Monday announced that the Ohio School Safety Center (OSSC) finalized the requirements for the select staff members authorized by their districts to be armed in an effort to combat violence in Ohio schools.
The OSSC’s Armed School Staff Essential Training (ASSET) Curriculum was developed to meet the requirements outlined in House Bill 99 which was signed by DeWine in June. The legislation permits Ohio school boards and governing bodies to opt to arm specific staff members who complete the required training.
At DeWine’s direction, the new ASSET curriculum includes 24 hours of initial training and eight hours of annual recertification training, the maximum number of hours permitted by law. The curriculum defines the subjects that instructors must cover, the amount of time spent of each topic, and the learning objectives that those taking the training must meet.
“We have an obligation to do everything we can to prevent violence and avoid tragedies in our schools,” DeWine said in a release. “For districts that choose to arm a school staff member, this training will ensure that those individuals are thoroughly prepared to respond to emergencies specific to a school environment.”
It doesn’t appear that any Greene County districts will “opt in,” however one — Bellbrook-Sugarcreek schools — authorized a response team.
Through a board resolution passed on Sept. 8, Bellbrook-Sugarcreek schools created its Active Shooter Response Team Implementation Committee and a highly-vetted, highly-trained volunteer team. But is has not authorized staff, including teachers, to carry firearms on school grounds, according to district officials.
“This announcement from Governor DeWine is another piece of the puzzle for our implementation committee on the training requirements,” Superintendent Dr. Doug Cozad said. “While the state has outlined an overview of what the training will include, we are still digging into guidance that was announced (Monday).”
Xenia is not planning to allow any teachers to be armed at this time, Coordinator of Communications Kristy Creel said.
“We currently have two resource officers and are currently exploring the possibility of increasing that number,” she said.
Greeneview, which has “an officer in each of our buildings,” is not planning to arm any teachers either, according to Superintendent Dr. Sabrina Woodruff.
Fairborn has school resource officers in every building and will not be authorizing teachers to be armed, according to Pam Gayheart, director of public relations.
Cedar Cliff Local Schools Superintendent Chad Mason said his district is not arming teachers “at this point.”
Beavercreek schools has not yet responded to an email regarding arming staff.
According to the release from DeWine, the initial and recertification training include: Scenario-based training; instruction on mitigation techniques; de-escalation techniques; tactics of responding to critical incidents; neutralization of potential threats and active shooters; and tactical live firearm training.
Other modules include accountability, reunification, psychology of critical incidents, crisis intervention, trauma and first aid care, history/pattern of school shootings, and realistic urban training. Development of additional curriculum is underway for districts that choose to require more training than what is mandated by the state.
Mobile training officers with OSSC’s Safety and Crisis Division will begin offering the ASSET training in 2023, but schools also have the option to select an alternate training provider whose training courses meet the requirements of the new OSSC curriculum. Schools can find more information on how to sign up for state training or training offered by an alternate entity ohioschoolsafetycenter.ohio.gov.
The option to arm trained staff members in schools is a school safety measure that builds on many other initiatives developed by the DeWine-Husted Administration to protect school students and staff. In 2019, DeWine developed the Ohio School Safety Center within the Ohio Department of Public Safety to be a comprehensive, statewide office focused exclusively on enhancing the safety of Ohio schools. In addition to maintaining and promoting the Safer Ohio School Tip Line, the center assists schools and first responders in preventing, preparing for, and responding to threats and acts of violence including self-harm. Staff also proactively scan social media and websites to identify threats against schools. DeWine has also worked to protect Ohio schools through violent crime reduction strategies and enhanced mental health services.
Enhancing school security
DeWine worked with the Ohio General Assembly to help schools pay for physical security upgrades through the new Ohio K-12 School Safety Grant Program, which has allotted $100 million to more than 1,000 Ohio schools this year. He also worked with the Ohio General Assembly to create the Ohio Campus Safety Grant Program, which helps colleges and universities pay for physical security upgrades.
DeWine worked with the Ohio General Assembly to create the Ohio Safety and Security Grant Program, which helps cover the costs of security upgrades at chartered nonpublic schools, licensed preschools, nonprofit organizations, and religious institutions.
Encouraging student wellness
DeWine created the Student Wellness and Success Fund, a $1.2 billion investment that is now a part of the school funding formula, to provide wraparound services to students. Wraparound services are programming and supports meant to build skills and fulfill a student or familial need. To date, this funding has launched 1,300 mental health programs and trained 6,500 educators and school professionals.
After hearing about the need for more accessible mental health services for students on college campuses, DeWine led the nation with a $13.5 million investment to expand mental health services for higher education students.
Reducing violent crime
DeWine worked with the Ohio General Assembly to invest $250 million in Ohio’s law enforcement agencies and first responders, created the Ohio Ballistics Testing Initiative to double the number of National Integrated Ballistic Information Network units in Ohio to help law enforcement identify criminals responsible for deadly shootings and other incidents of gun violence in Ohio, and created the Ohio Crime Lab Efficiency Program to eliminate backlogs in the testing of criminal evidence at Ohio’s certified crime labs across the state with the goal of returning evidence test results back to law enforcement faster.
DeWine created the Ohio Violent Crime Reduction Grant Program to provide funding to local law enforcement agencies to help them implement new violent crime reduction strategies in their communities. DeWine also directed the Ohio State Highway Patrol to assist local law enforcement with “surge operations” designed to interdict gun violence and repossess stolen or illegally possessed guns.