CLEVELAND (WJW) – Governor DeWine is expected to announce the status of new school safety initiatives Tuesday created as a part of House Bill 99, a law that allows teachers to carry a firearm inside classrooms.
“When Uvalde happened, immediately House Bill 99 happened in Ohio,” said Melissa Cropper, President of the Ohio Federation of Teachers. “I think what we’ve been hearing, mainly from our teachers, is they don’t think that’s the way to go.”
The legislation is not mandatory. Individual districts can make their own decision about the controversial issue.
The law requires up to 24 hours of firearm training, reversing a prior Ohio Supreme Court ruling that mandated more extensive training for teachers and staff.
“We’re currently meeting with our local leaders as we start our back-to-school discussions,” said Cropper. “As of right now, we have not heard of any districts that plan to arm teachers and follow House Bill 99.”
The Ohio Federation of Teachers represents 15,000 members. The majority are K-12 educators serving in Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo and surrounding suburbs.
According to the union, arming teachers puts educators in the impossible position of making life and death decisions without sufficient training.
Cleveland and Akron school districts prohibited guns inside school buildings shortly after House Bill 99 was signed into law. Many districts, including some serving smaller communities, have not weighed the decision, including Rittman Exempted Village Schools.
The district superintendent said he was not pursuing the issue at this point.
“The first responders would not know who the actual assailant is. Therefore, they’re putting themselves in danger,” said Cropper about safety concerns related to the law.
Cropper said she supports alternatives, including better ways to secure buildings, hiring school resource officers and better social, emotional learning programs to identify and resolve conflict.