Madison Local School District of Ohio successfully defeated a lawsuit filed against it that sought to prevent a new policy of arming teachers and staff.
The lawsuit was filed by five parents who argued that the policy was illegal because it didn’t guarantee that employees would be sufficiently trained. Under Ohio law, the decision of whether or not to arm teachers and staff is left up to local school boards so long as all armed staff are properly trained.
But what exactly constitutes “proper training” was the central debate of the case, and was left vague by state legislators who wrote the law. The parents argued that any armed staff need to complete 700 hours of training, which is what’s required of police officers and security guards.
In particular, they pointed to a section of Ohio code, which states:
“No public or private educational institution shall employ a person as a special police officer, security guard, or other position in which such person goes armed while on duty, who has not received a certificate of having satisfactorily completed an approved basic peace officer training program.”
Butler County Common Pleas Court Judge Charles Pater, however, found that this statute applies only to “employees whose position is such that by its very nature it mandates the person holding it go armed while on duty.”
Since teachers and school staff don’t fit this category, Pater concluded that the 26 hours required by Madison Local School District was sufficient.
“Clearly teachers, administrators, administrative assistants, and custodians, along with most, if not all, other school employees are not employed by educational institutions in such capacity, unlike someone such as a school resource officer. Therefore, the school employees authorized by the board to carry firearms on school premises are not under the training requirements as set forth” in Ohio code, Pater wrote in his ruling.
Superintendent Lisa Tuttle-Huff told FOX19 NOW that she “respects that the plaintiffs who brought this lawsuit might hold different opinions,” but hopes that they “will pursue other avenues than litigation to effect change in the future.”
“The board will continue doing what we believe is in the best interest of our community. Our primary concern has been and continues to be the safety of our students, and what works for our community may not work for others,” her statement added.
The measure to allow teachers and staff to carry on campus was passed in April 2018, and comes with the following requirements:
- Approval from the superintendent
- Permitted under Ohio law to carry a concealed handgun
- Active shooter training
- Yearly re-certification
Madison Local School District may not be safe yet, however. On Wednesday, the day before Pater’s ruling, another group of parents filed a lawsuit claiming that the district “engaged in a concerted campaign designed to child and silence” them from the process.
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo “Madison High School” by Madison High School.