June 7, 2013
Ryan Scott Ottney
PDT Staff Writer
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine this week released the recommendations of his School Safety Task Force, including schools forming local partnerships with emergency first responders to manage school emergencies. Several schools in Scioto County already have partnerships with law enforcement to provide a presence in their buildings.
“After the tragedies in Chardon and Connecticut, I convened this task force because nothing is more important than keeping our children safe while at school,” said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. “Thanks to the work of the task force, Ohio schools will have useful tools recommended by educators, administrators, and emergency first responders so they can develop good safety plans.”
The task force also created a template safety plan that includes information and best practices Ohio schools can use to build their safety plans. The template is an electronic document which can be downloaded from the Ohio Attorney General’s website and customized by each school. It directs schools to include key information and contacts, along with standardized floor plans in the beginning of the document so that law enforcement can easily access this critical information in the event of an emergency.
According to DeWine’s office, Northwest School has not yet submitted a complete safety plan and Sciotoville Schools has not submitted a plan the state in the past three years.
Law enforcement access a school’s plans from the Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway (OHLEG), which is administered by the Attorney General’s Office.
Portsmouth City School and Scioto County Career Technical Center, in Scioto County, already have an armed police officer (called a School Resource Officer) in their buildings. Washington-Nile School District this year signed an agreement with their local township to provide an office in the school for Scioto County Sheriff’s Deputies stationed in the township, to give the district a constant presence of law enforcement. No suspects are brought to the school office; all booking and arrests are made at the Scioto County Sheriff’s Office. The village of New Boston also recently applied for a law enforcement grant to hire one new police officer to remain stationed at New Boston Schools. The village will not know until late-summer whether or not their request is approved.
DeWine convened his School Safety Task Force in December to bring together school administrators, emergency first responders, and government officials to review state policies on school safety, including safety plan guidelines. The task force prepared a formal report of its recommendations, which include resources outlining best practices for schools and legislative recommendations. The report is available on the Ohio Attorney General’s website.
The Attorney General’s Office has also prepared an online presentation for schools interested in the process of updating and improving their safety plans. The presentation and all school safety resources can be viewed on the Ohio Attorney General’s School Safety webpage, www.OhioattorneyGeneral.gov/SchoolSafety.
Ryan Scott Ottney can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 287, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Ryan on Twitter @PDTWriter.