Education

DeWine Announces Plans for Ohio School Safety Center

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Gov. Mike DeWine today issued an executive order creating the Ohio School Safety Center, a specialized division of Ohio Homeland Security devoted exclusively to the safety of Ohio’s students and schools.

The new state office will assist local schools and law enforcement in preventing, preparing for, and responding to threats and acts of violence, including self-harm, through a holistic, solutions-based approach to improving school safety, the governor said.

“Given that schools are often targets of violence, school safety proposals are a prominent part of STRONG Ohio, my 17-point plan to reduce violence with dangerous weapons and increase mental health treatment,” he said. “Having one office where the staff solely focuses on keeping our students safe and our schools secure, will allow analysts to nimbly assess threats, proactively address potential issues, and expertly train and support school faculty in a more streamlined manner.”

Mirroring national trends, Ohio has experienced several incidents of violence in schools over the past seven years, including shootings at Chardon High School in 2012, Madison Junior/Senior High School in 2016, and West Liberty-Salem High School in 2017. In addition, suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth and young adults aged 10-24 years.

The Ohio School Safety Center will continue the current work of Ohio Homeland Security staff to annually review approximately 5,500 school emergency management plans and offer free risk and threat assessments. OSSC staff will also:

  • Promote and expand use of the SaferOH Tip Line through training and increased visibility to encourage more anonymous reports of school safety concerns and threats of violence. The SaferOH Tip Line, which accepts calls or texts to 844-SAFEROH (844-723-3764), is available free of charge to every public and private school in Ohio.
  • Proactively scan social media and websites for threats to schools through use of enhanced technology to identify threat language.
  • Review emergency management plans and implement threat assessment team training. 
  • Consolidate school safety resources in a centralized location via an enhanced website, saferschools.ohio.gov, to include resources on school safety from various state agencies.
  • Host an annual school safety summit .

DeWine’s executive order also includes the creation of the Ohio School Safety Working Group, which will consist of experts in the fields of public safety, education, mental health and emergency management. The group will meet quarterly to discuss current issues and trends regarding school safety and local needs and would assist with the development of a yearly report on the state of school safety in Ohio.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.