Editors note: This story clarifies the position of Missy Wellman as president of the school board for Crestview Local Schools.
The video above is from June 13, 2022, when Ohio Mike DeWine signed House Bill 99 which permits school boards to designate a staff member to carry a firearm and outlines the training needed to do so.
In the past, armed staff were allowed in schools but were limited to law enforcement, security officers, or “any other person who has written authorization from the board of education or governing body of a school.” House Bill 99 outlines the training that staff members must undergo before they are permitted to carry a weapon at school.
“Our goal is to continue to help our public and private schools get the tools they need to protect our children,” DeWine said at the signing of the bill. “Working together, we have come a long way to improve school safety in Ohio over the last decade, and we must continue this progress. We have an obligation to do everything we can every single day to try and protect our kids.”
The idea of arming staff members typically circles back around following shootings in schools. The latest was in Nashville, Tennessee, where a shooter opened fire on students and staff. Police were called and were on the scene in eight minutes but not before 28-year-old Audrey Hale killed six people, including three children, before officers shot her.
What would have happened if someone at the school was armed and trained to confront a threat? That’s the idea behind House Bill 99 in Ohio and the thinking behind those who are using it.
Many schools employ school resource officers, who are generally a part of the local police department. But there are districts in Ohio that are using the new law to put weapons in the hands of other staff members.
None are in the Mahoning Valley, according to the latest roster provided by the Ohio Department of Public Safety. The closest is Maplewood Career Center in Ravenna. WKBN First News reached out to Superintendent Randy Griffith to see how the school board went about choosing the staff member and what the process was like, but he did not return our requests for comment.
We reached out to some of the larger districts in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties to see where they stand on the idea, but the only districts to respond were Youngstown City Schools and Crestview.
Youngstown City School District Board President Tiffany Patterson said the board had discussed House Bill 99, but they were not interested at this time in taking any action.
“We will revisit in the future, if necessary,” Patterson said.
Missy Wellman, president of the board of education for the Crestview Local School District said the district employs professionally trained law enforcement.
“At this time, Crestview chooses to employ professionally trained law enforcement to serve our district as resource officers in our buildings daily,” Wellman said.
The following schools have turned in rosters of staff who have received training and are authorized to carry on school grounds: (Source: Ohio Department of Public Safety)
- Adams County Christian School
- Carrollton Exempted Village School District
- Clay Local School District
- Claymont City
- Fort Loramie Local Schools
- Garaway Local Schools
- Highland Local Schools
- Indian Lake Local Schools
- Jefferson County Educational Service Center
- Knox County Career Center Schools
- Mad River Local School District
- Maplewood Career Center
- Martins Ferry City School District
- Morgan Local School District
- River Valley Local Schools
- Rolling Hills Local School District
- Russia Local School
- St. Clairsville-Richland City Schools
- St. Marys City Schools
- Streetsboro City Schools
- Tuscarawas Valley Local School District
- Upper Scioto Valley
- Williamsburg Local School District
About 30 states have enacted legislation allowing staff members to carry a weapon, according to data collected by the Giffords Law Center.
There are 16 states that prohibit staff members from carrying guns and those include Alabama, California, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin, as well as the District of Columbia.
Mississippi has a similar measure as Ohio pending and is awaiting approval from the governor.