CLEVELAND (WJW) – Ohio school teachers and staff could soon be allowed to carry guns inside school.
Governor DeWine is expected to sign House Bill 99 into law. The bill would arm teachers and staff at schools with guns. It would require up to 24 hours of initial firearm training and eight hours of training every year after.
Shari Obrenski, president of the Cleveland Teachers Union, said members voiced serious concern about the safety of the bill and some teachers said they would quit if signed into law.
“I’ve had some of my members say, if they were to allow guns into our schools, they would leave the profession,” said Obrenski. “They would pack it up and call it a day. We are asked to do so much. Now to ask us to be the police professionals in all of this is a bridge too far.”
The controversial bill reverses an Ohio Supreme Court ruling requiring school workers to have hundreds of hours of training in order to be armed at school.
“I just find it ironic that the legislature and the governor are moving so quickly to arm teachers when they’re spending so much of their time demonstrating how little they trust us,” said Obrenski. “In terms of creation of curriculum, in terms of choosing books and other appropriate materials in our classrooms and essentially micromanaging the job of a teacher.”
Obrenski said most in-school security personnel are not armed.
Eric Gordon, CEO of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, said, “I do not in any way support arming teachers and plan to bring a resolution before the Board at the June 14th Board Work Session affirming again that CMSD will not permit teachers to bring weapons into our schools or onto our campuses.”
School district leadership at both the Cleveland Metropolitan School District as well as Akron Public Schools could not be reached.
The potential change comes as funerals continue for teachers and students killed in Uvalde, Texas.
“Every educator’s worst nightmare played out in Texas and it’s something that keeps us up at night,” said Independence Local Schools Superintendent Ben Hegedish.
According to Hegedish, there are roughly 175 employees in the district, including 90 teachers. Two armed school resource officers are already present on campus.
“I don’t think anybody in education wants to see the wild wild west, where teachers are walking around with guns on their sides, nor do I think that’s a great environment for all of our kids,” he said.
Westlake City Schools Superintendent Scott Goggin said the district will not be arming its teachers.
“We do have armed people in the school – police officers who are not only excessively trained but also have experience in these situations,” said Goggin. “To us, that is crucial when bringing weapons around children or students. Another issue – when a threat or violent act occurs in a school, police from all neighboring communities will come to the school for support. Would an officer from a neighboring community know my staff or just see a person with a weapon?”
Arming teachers on school grounds would not be mandated. School districts would need to decide to opt-in.