DENNISON, Ohio (WJW) – A school district in Tuscarawas County, that previously approved the arming of employees to deal with threats to school safety, is once again debating the controversial issue.
Concerned about the rash of school shootings across the country, the Claymont School Board voted in 2019 to arm certain staff members and the enhanced security plan began the following school year.
But it was later halted by an Ohio Supreme Court decision that school employees had to meet state police officer training or experience requirements.
However, a new state law passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by Governor DeWine earlier this year once again makes the arming of staff members permissible.
The current Claymont School Board is now considering a plan to once again arm employees.
The proposal has the support of Claymont Schools Superintendent Brian Rentsch, who told FOX 8, “That adds just a little extra layer of security if there ever was a intruder situation.”
During a school board meeting on Tuesday, Tuscarawas County Sheriff Orvis Campbell told board members that armed staff members could have made a difference in a number of school shootings across the country.
The sheriff and the superintendent pointed out that, in a number of cases like the 2012 Sandy Hook School shooting, by the time law enforcement was able to respond, the damage had already been done.
“There’s always those what ifs and buts, but in that case and scenario, if that teacher was able have a firearm and protect their children, I don’t think it would have ended the way it did.”
The discussion about the proposal to arm employees is also raising some thought-provoking questions about safety and liability.
One board member asked what would happen if an armed employee made a tragic mistake in the event of a school shooting.
In response, Superintendent Rentsch said, “If they do take out the intruder but someone else is also harmed, there are protections. One for the employee and also for the school district.”
If approved, the plan to arm employees calls for a rigorous vetting process and state mandated training.
“They need to have their conceal carry license. They also need to have background checks. They also need to have drug tests and they have to go through the specific training,” said Superintendent Rentsch.
If the plan is approved, training of qualified staff members could begin later this school year.