As students throughout Ohio head back to school, Ohio’s Attorney General is reminding school officials to make sure they have a comprehensive school safety plan on file.
As Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles reports, many schools have not submitted plans that are comprehensive enough in the case of a school shooting or similar emergency.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has a system set up in his office where information about school safety plans is entered into a database that law enforcement officials can immediately access if they have to respond to an emergency. He’s urging school officials to go back and look at what they have provided.
DeWine – Just because a school has submitted a plan and they are in compliance with the law does not necessarily mean that’s the best plan that community could put together.
DeWine says all of Ohio’s school districts have filed some sort of safety plan. But he says that doesn’t mean those plans are comprehensive enough to do any real good. For example, he says all of the plans should have an easily accessible maps of the buildings.
DeWine – You know if a tragedy occurs in Cedarville, Ohio, the local police are going to be just fine because they know that building. They are in that building every week for a basketball game or something. But if Jamestown responds, they might not know that school as well. So you want to have something they can pull down on their phone, from their phone or wherever they are getting the information as they are responding so they can quickly look at it and find out where that library is or where the multi purpose room is.
But DeWine says these types of comprehensive plans have not been provided for 180 of Ohio’s school buildings. An additional 56 buildings only have partial plans on file. He says that information could mean the difference between life and death if a tragedy were to occur in those buildings. But DeWine says there’s no law that requires school officials to do anything more than just file something.
DeWine – None of this is a legal requirement. The law only requires them to file something and there’s not a penalty if they don’t. But I just think common sense and what the public wants is the safety of our kids and the schools will comply with this.
DeWine says he doesn’t think the state legislature needs to pass a law to get this done. Instead, he thinks public officials in charge of schools should start asking themselves the question of whether they’ve put everything on file, in a common sense way, that could help emergency officials in the event tragedy strikes. DeWine says his office has information to help school officials come up with a comprehensive safety plan.