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Ohio Supreme Court: Armed school employees require training

The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that school districts must provide police-level training to employees carrying concealed weapons.

The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that school districts that allow employees to be armed must provide police-level training.

The divided state high court ruled 4-3 Wednesday that armed school employees must undergo an approved basic peace-officer-training program or have 20 years experience as a police officer.

At issue was a policy adopted by Madison Local Schools in Butler County in southwestern Ohio. The district voted to allow armed school employees after a 2016 shooting in which a 14-year-old boy shot and wounded two students.

A group of parents sued the district in September 2018 to prevent teachers from being armed without extensive training.

A Butler County judge dismissed the lawsuit, stating that school staff did not need training because they are not law enforcement officials.

The district then established a policy that requires 24 hours of training for staff carrying concealed weapons.

The parents appealed to the 12th District Court of Appeals, which ruled last March that Ohio law requires anyone who carries firearms in schools to have undergone a minimum of 728 hours of law enforcement training.

Nothing in Ohio law allows districts to circumvent the law’s training requirement, Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor wrote for the four-justice majority.

The statute prohibits schools from employing someone who is armed while on duty “unless the employee has satisfactorily completed an approved basic peace-officer-training program or has 20 years of experience as a peace officer,” O’Connor wrote.

A bill pending in the Ohio House would exempt school employees from the training requirement.

Ohio Representative Thomas Hall (R-Madison Township) said he was disappointed with the Supreme Court’s decision, citing that it gives school boards the ability to make additional requirements.

“The Ohio General Assembly has a responsibility to give our school districts the option to protect their students and staff by embracing local control and establishing appropriate baseline training requirements for educators to carry a firearm,” Hall stated.

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