I recently introduced House Bill 8 in the Ohio House of Representatives in order to start the conversation on school safety at the state level and ensure that schools like those in my district have the ability to keep students as safe as possible. What’s important to note is that there is not one clear-cut solution on this issue that we can apply across the board. Not only do our schools differ, but the communities, law enforcement, and available resources they have vary widely across the state.
With House Bill 8, my goal is to address some of the easiest and most recognizable actions we can take. First and foremost is ensuring that school safety plans are able to be developed and enforced at the local level. As both a mother and a former school staff member, I take comfort in knowing that school safety decisions can be made by those closest to home, rather than bureaucrats who aren’t as familiar with the situation on the ground. Providing local school boards and law enforcement—two of the groups we are working most closely with on the bill—the flexibility to make these plans locally is reassuring.
When discussions on school safety arise, one of the most often-mentioned topics is whether schools should have teachers or other staff members who are armed—and this elicits strong opinions on both sides of the issue. One of the important aspects of House Bill 8 is that it does not tell schools what to do, but allows school boards the flexibility to work out such issues within their local government bodies.
The bill would also ensure that, when schools have their own school safety plans, the general public cannot access those plans through public records requests or other means. When it comes to security, it is often best that individuals do not know the exact response that would take place in any given situation, as a means of deterring the violence and providing a level of protection of the schools’ safety plans.
Serving in my roles as a former city council member and as a state legislator, I have had the privilege of meeting with many city officials, school board members, and law enforcement officers. I have great confidence in their abilities and know that they always have the best interests of their communities in mind. I’m confident that we will all benefit when House Bill 8 is signed into law and find comfort in knowing that we have taken one more step to prevent violence in our schools.