Number of schools with armed staffers has nearly tripled since last year

Still, only 10% of Ohio school districts are registered with state database to allow non-security staff to access firearms.

The number of school districts registered to give non-police staff access to guns has nearly tripled since the spring of 2023.

In March 2023, about 22 school districts had registered with the Ohio School Safety Center to have teachers and staff who aren’t police officers have access to firearms during school hours, according to an Ohio Capital Journal review at the time. By January 2024, the number had grown to 63 districts, according to the OSSC.

Among the local districts who authorized specific staff members to access guns during school hours are Mad River, New Lebanon and Madison Local, according to the OSSC.

While the number of school districts arming teachers is growing, most school districts have chosen not to do so. The state has around 610 school districts, so roughly 10% of Ohio districts have opted in.

Ohio school boards must opt into the program, and the school board and superintendent pick the people who will have access through an interview process. Those people need to undergo 24 hours of training with an approved instructor before they can legally access a firearm on school property, and then must undergo eight hours of recertification training each year.

The Miami Valley Career Tech Center is also listed, but the superintendent, Nick Weldy, said that was because the school district submitted the names of their security staff to the OSSC, and teachers aren’t authorized to have weapons in school.

Several school boards, including West Carrollton and Bellbrook, have authorized staff to start programs, though those districts haven’t completed training.

And Sidney City Schools, which authorized arming teachers several years ago, had a problem with filing paperwork, superintendent Bob Humble said.

Mad River, like many districts in the Miami Valley, also has a school resource officer. Mad River requires more than the minimum number of training hours that the state mandates, and has had the program since at least 2016, with a break during a court challenge over how much training armed school staff members must have.

Some Mad River parents say they feel teachers’ access to guns is helpful in protecting kids.

Heather McCormick, a parent at Beverly Gardens Elementary, said she felt arming teachers was needed to protect kids.

“I’m OK with it,” she said.

Theodore Amundsen, another Beverly Gardens Elementary parent, said he doesn’t think all teachers should be armed and it should depend on character.

“But you know, due to all the school shootings happening, I don’t think an extra layer of defense is such a bad idea these days,” he said.

Ohio House Rep. Thomas Hall, R-Madison Twp., the primary sponsor of the house bill that allowed teachers to access guns in schools without undergoing Ohio police officer-level training, said he is not surprised at the number of schools that have registered.

While he said the jump in numbers was likely due to the setup of the OSSC and training guidelines, he expects about 20 to 30 more school districts to register with the OSSC, especially after this summer.

“Now that the program is set up and running, that they can go get their training while they’re off of school,” he said.

According to David Riedman at the K-12 School Shooting Database, a website that tracks shooting incidents, 346 U.S. school shootings happened in 2023. In 2022, 308 school shootings occurred in the U.S.

Some teachers’ unions were skeptical of the legislation when it was proposed. Ohio Education Association president Scott DiMauro said the OEA continues to have concerns about educators fulfilling the role of both security guard and educator.

“Although there have been a number of schools and educators who have opted into the program in Ohio, it is too soon to say whether there has been any meaningful impact on student and staff safety in our schools,” DiMauro said.

He said the association has heard from educators who no longer felt safe after the bill allowed armed staffers passed, and have left the profession.

How did we get here?

In June 2021, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that for teachers to have access to guns in school, they need to undergo the same amount of training that police officers do — roughly 700 hours.

Before that ruling, in February 2021, Hall proposed legislation to allow staffers selected by the district’s school board to undergo at least 24 hours of training before they could have the guns in schools, with eight recertification hours required each year. In September 2022, the legislation passed, and by December 2022, the rules and regulations were available for school districts.

A shooting incident at Madison High School in Hall’s district injured four students in February 2016. His father was a school resource officer at Madison then and chased the suspect out of a window, he said.

Hall said he would prefer that all schools have two or three school resource officers.

“I think school resource officers are the best option and I will always say and agree with that statement,” Hall said. “Now the reality of that statement is, you talk to some of these counties, some of these places, there’s not a lot of police officers to pull from.”

What districts have opted in?

The schools or districts that that have opted in with Ohio School Safety Center for arming school staffers are:

1. Adams County Christian School - Adams County

2. Barnesville Exempted Village School District -Belmont County

3. Bellaire Local Schools- Belmont County

4. Belmont Harrison JVSD - Belmont County

5. Benjamin Logan Local Schools - Logan County

6. Bridgeport Exempted Village School District- Belmont County

7. Bright Local School District - Highland County

8. Caldwell Exempted Village School District - Noble County

9. Calvary Christian School - Logan County

10. Carrollton Exempted Village School District - Carroll County

11. Clay Local School District - Scioto County

12. Claymont City - Tuscarawas County

13. Clinton-Massie Local Schools - Clinton County

14. East Guernsey Local Schools - Guernsey County

15. Eastern Local Schools District - Brown County

16. Edgerton Local Schools - Williams County

17. Edison Local School District - Jefferson County

18. Fairlawn Local School District - Shelby County

19. Fort Loramie Local Schools - Shelby County

20. Gallipolis City School District - Gallia County

21. Garaway Local Schools - Tuscarawas County

22. Geneva Academy - Logan County

23. Hardin-Houston School - Shelby County

24. Highland Local Schools - Morrow County

25. Indian Creek Local School District - Jefferson County

26. Indian Lake Local Schools - Logan County

27. Jackson Center Schools - Shelby County

28. Jefferson County Educational Service Center - Jefferson County

29. Jefferson County Joint Vocational School - Jefferson County

30. Kenton City Schools - Hardin County

31. Knox County Career Center Schools - Knox County

32. Licking County Christian Academy - Licking County

33. Mad River Local School District - Montgomery County

34. Madison Local Schools - Butler County

35. Manchester Local School District - Adams County

36. Mansfield Christian School - Richland County

37. Maplewood Career Center - Portage County

38. Mars Hill Academy - Warren County

39. Martins Ferry City School District - Belmont County

40. Miami Valley Career Technology Center - Montgomery County

41. Morgan Local School District - Morgan County

42. New Lebanon Local School District - Montgomery County

43. Newcomerstown Exempted Village School District - Tuscarawas County

44. Noble Local School District - Noble County

45. Ohio High Point Career Center - Logan County

46. Old Fort Local Schools - Seneca County

47. Parma City Schools - Cuyahoga County

48. River Valley Local Schools -Marion County

49. Rolling Hills Local School District - Guernsey County

50. Russia Local School - Shelby County

51. Sidney City Schools - Shelby County

52. Southern Ohio Educational Service Center - Clinton County

53. St. Clairsville-Richland City Schools - Belmont County

54. St. Mary’s City Schools - Auglaize County

55. Streetsboro City Schools - Portage County

56. Switzerland of Ohio Local School District - Monroe County

57. Tri-Valley Local School District - Muskingum County

58. Trumbull Career and Technical Center - Trumbull County

59. Tuscarawas Valley Local School District - Tuscarawas County

60. Upper Scioto Valley - Hardin County

61. Warren Local School District - Washington County

62. Wheelersburg Local School District - Scioto County

63. Williamsburg Local School District - Clermont County

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