OH school safety task force recommends changes after shootings

On Friday, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine released the recommendations of his School Safety Task Force, including schools forming local partnerships with emergency first responders to manage school emergencies, and a template safety plan that includes information and best practices Ohio schools can use to build their safety plans.

"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," Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said. "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 template developed by the task force is an electronic document which can be downloaded from the Ohio Attorney General's website and customized by each school. The template 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. Law enforcement access a school's plans from the Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway (OHLEG), which is administered by the Attorney General's Office.

The task force also recommended that the plans be able to be uploaded online, as opposed to the current system where paper copies must be mailed to the Attorney General's Office. The recommendation requests Ohio Department of Education allow safety plans to be uploaded through its SAFE web portal, which will then be transferred to OHLEG for use by first responders.

All schools required under the safety plan law adopted in 2007 have made a submission to OHLEG. However, 189 schools have not updated their plan within three years as required by the law, and another 58 schools' submissions lack either a floor plan or an emergency operations plan. Attorney General DeWine stressed his office would work with these schools to utilize the materials recommended by the task force to help them develop improved safety plans.

"The task force compiled and developed these recommendations so schools that need to update their safety plans have solid resources to create a sustainable safety plan for their school," DeWine said. "Working with schools to update their plans is the next step in this important process."

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 includes audio narration and discusses the importance of schools developing local partnerships to manage critical incidents at schools.

The presentation and all school safety resources can be viewed on the Ohio Attorney General's School Safety webpage.