COLUMBUS, Ohio (WANE) – Ohio Governor Mike DeWine outlined Friday the state’s next steps to strengthen school safety for students, teachers, and staff.
Following the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Texas, the governor addressed strategies to reduce violent crime. The priorities focus on helping school officials evaluate potential threats and develop appropriate responses, as well as improve the physical security of school buildings and campuses. The governor said he will also work to further expand Ohio’s behavioral health workforce to increase access to mental health services, and will continue to support Ohio’s law enforcement agencies in preventing violent crime.
“We continue to pray for the families who have lost their children; there’s nothing in the world more difficult than losing a child,” Governor DeWine said. “It is important to identify early on someone who is having problems in order to intervene and get them the help they need. We must do more to strengthen our schools’ physical security, and we must ensure school personnel have the proper training and support to keep themselves and their students safe.”
Comprehensive Behavioral Threat Assessment Training for Ohio Educators: The Ohio Department of Public Safety and Ohio Department of Education will provide comprehensive, evidence-based behavioral threat assessment training for all Ohio educators. This training will help schools comply with House Bill 123, which requires some schools to have threat assessment teams. Threat assessment models help schools and teachers uniformly evaluate troubling student behaviors, develop plans for intervention, and connect students in need to services.
Enhanced Statewide Safety Support for Schools: Governor DeWine announced the Ohio School Safety Center (OSSC) will increase its number of regional school liaisons across the state. These liaisons assist schools in implementing best practices in physical school safety, training, and planning in each of the Ohio Department of Education’s 16 State Support Team regions. The expanded team will also assist schools and law enforcement with conducting annual security and vulnerability assessments to ensure security practices are up to date.
Improved Physical Safety in Ohio’s School Buildings: Together with the Ohio General Assembly, Governor DeWine said he will invest more funding to assist school districts with enhancing the physical safety and security of their schools. This funding is said to be in addition to previous capital investments in Ohio schools which included $5 million to fund K-12 safety measures.
Enhanced Penalties for Violent Crime: Governor DeWine called on the Ohio General Assembly to swiftly pass H.B. 383, sponsored by Representative Kyle Koehler, which increases the penalty for violent offenders who continue to illegally obtain and possess firearms.
Accurate and Complete Background Checks: Governor DeWine also called on the Ohio General Assembly to mandate that local court and law enforcement agencies enter all of their warrants and protection orders into the appropriate state and national databases within 48 hours after they are issued.
The governor also reminded Ohioans about the Safer Ohio School Tip Line, Ohio’s free, statewide resource to anonymously report school safety concerns. Ohioans can call or text 844-SAFEROH (844-723-3764) any time of day.
“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,” said Ohio Department of Public Safety Director Tom Stickrath. “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.”
“Ohio’s students, educators and staff count on us to keep them safe. I join with Governor DeWine and our state’s school leaders in continuing Ohio’s critical focus on school safety,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Stephen D. Dackin. “It is vital that our schools have the resources necessary to focus on the well-being of learners, the training needed for educators and staff and the understanding among every Ohioan that school safety is our number one priority.”