(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today announced that his office would expand safety training for educators and expand his School Safety Task Force to make recommendations on school safety policy. DeWine made his announcement at a press briefing with Acting Superintendent of Public Instruction Michael Sawyers, which highlighted the efforts of the Attorney General and the Ohio Department of Education to enhance school safety after the shootings at a school in Chardon earlier this year.
"Nothing is more important than keeping our children safe, and we must do everything in our power to ensure their safety while at school," said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. "In light of the horrible tragedies in Chardon and in Connecticut, the Attorney General's Office has taken a leadership role in promoting school safety and working with our partners across state government to help educators be prepared for all types of school emergencies."
"We are shocked and saddened by the unspeakable horror at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Protecting the safety and welfare of Ohio's students is paramount," said Acting Superintendent of Public Instruction Michael Sawyers. "We continue to work with school districts and school administrators to provide a safe learning environment for our school children. The horror of this most recent school shooting reminds us that we all must work together as a nation to make schools the safe places they should be."
DeWine announced plans to hold the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy's (OPOTA) "Active Shooter Training Response for Educators Course" across Ohio in 2013. The free course is a partnership with the Ohio Department of Education. DeWine is also expanding the Attorney General's School Safety Task Force, partnering with the Ohio Department of Education, the Ohio School Boards Association, the Buckeye Association of School Administrators, and the Ohio Association of School Business Officials.
"We traditionally think of first responders as law enforcement, police, and fire departments. When there is a school emergency, teachers and educators really are the first responders to our children," DeWine said. "We need to adopt a holistic approach to make sure educators are prepared for any type of emergency or threat."
DeWine also highlighted what school safety efforts had been initiated since the Chardon shootings:
BCI agents and local law enforcement from Chardon offered training at the 2012 Law Enforcement Conference teaching what they learned from the Chardon shootings.
OPOTA has offered free two law enforcement training courses, "Profile of an Active Shooter" and "Single Officer Response to Active Shooter," with more course dates scheduled for 2013.
OPOTA has offered mobile training units to bring training on shooting scenarios to local law enforcement agencies.
In July, the Attorney General and the Department of Education co-sponsored the School Safety Summit, attended by more than 200 educators.
The Attorney General convened a School Safety Task Force, made up of first responders, school administrators, and school leaders, to provide recommendations on school safety plans and best practices.
The Attorney General's Office has provided outreach several times during 2012 to schools which had never submitted school safety plans or had not updated them in the past three years.
Dan Tierney: 614-466-3840
Lisa Hackley: 614-466-39840