Guest Column From State Representatives Kristina Roegner And Stephanie Kunze
A Common-Sense Approach to Making Ohio's Schools Safer
January 30, 2014
[ Kristina Roegner Home | Kristina Roegner Press ]

When parents send their kids off to school, they expect not only that they will receive a quality education that will prepare them for their futures, but, even more importantly, they rightfully expect them to be safe.

For the most part, those needs are met. But, every so often, we hear of a school tragedy that takes the lives of innocent students, teachers or faculty. News like this hit especially close to home a couple years ago when three students were killed at Chardon High School near Cleveland.

As legislators, we believe we have an opportunity and a duty to pursue ways of making Ohio’s schools safe. That was the impetus behind our sponsoring House Bill 8, which passed out of the Ohio House January 22nd with strong bipartisan support.

From the beginning, we had two primary goals in mind. One was to come up with smart, common-sense polices that would enhance the safety and protection of students and teachers. The second was to maintain a school district’s local control over their school safety plans.

House Bill 8 says that school districts may work collaboratively with local law enforcement to develop school safety protocols. Safety policies can, and should, vary from district to district depending on the needs and geography of the school. School safety is a subject of great importance and should be tailored by the men and women who know their districts best.

Some opponents of the bill have spread the false notion that it is somehow “putting guns in schools.” This claim is absurd and misleading: House Bill 8 does not mandate nor suggest that schools have armed employees. School districts in Ohio already had that option available to them without any training requirements. In fact, HB 8 puts stronger standards in place.

Under the legislation, individuals who are designated to carry a weapon on school property would be required to have a concealed carry permit, as well as any additional training that school boards and law enforcement agree is necessary. HB 8 also requires the Attorney General to develop a model training curriculum, complete with active shooter training for school employees should the school decide to arm an employee. Finally, HB 8 provides that any employee who objects to carrying a weapon on his or her person cannot be required to do so.

As legislators, but even more importantly as mothers of school-age children, the issue of school safety is near and dear to our hearts. We recognize that the issue of school safety will not be solved with one bill, but will be, and should be, an ongoing discussion. We look forward to continue working with our colleagues in Columbus and all interested parties from across the state to ensure that our schools are a safe place for our children to grow and learn.

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