State Reps. Adam C. Miller (D-Columbus) and Bernadine Kennedy Kent (D-Columbus) recently introduced new legislation titled the School Safety Drill bill to help improve emergency response readiness in school districts across the state.
“With a new academic year upon us, school safety is on the minds of parents and remains a hot-button issue in every state, but especially here in Ohio,” said Kennedy Kent, a former high school principal and longtime teacher. “When students, teachers and staff finally get together after summer break, I believe it is important to review emergency procedures as soon as possible to ease stress and ensure everyone in the facility is on the same page.”
The purpose of this legislation is to help school districts refine and test their emergency procedural plans by requiring a full-fledged rehearsal at the beginning of each school year. Through rehearsal and participation, districts may see a clearer picture of potential gaps in current plans.
For this reason, the bill includes additional provisions to provide funding to help districts improve emergency plans, in hopes of encouraging local communities and regional emergency management agencies to collaborate with schools during the emergency planning process, and to include school districts in all county and emergency regional response exercises.
“The School Safety Drill bill will directly improve communication between school districts and first responders by involving all qualified parties in the emergency procedure rehearsal,” said Miller, a former school board member, teacher and a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Reserve JAG Corps with military service in Afghanistan. “The Rehearsal of Concept (ROC) drill used in the military is a proven best practice in helping identify gaps in emergency response planning. I believe school districts need a similar tool to help ensure our students are safe.”
The legislation was introduced yesterday and awaits a committee appointment for further deliberation.