COLUMBUS, Ohio — Gov. Mike DeWine held a press conference Wednesday to announce the creation of a new Department: the Ohio School Safety Center.
The Center will be open for business beginning Thursday, August 22. DeWine said the move was about “violence prevention, how to keep Ohioans safe.” He signed the Executive Order immediately after taking questions from the media.
The governor shared a group photo on Facebook where he wrote, “Today I announced the creation of the Ohio School Safety Center to assist local schools and law enforcement in preventing, preparing for, and responding to threats and acts of violence, including self harm, through a comprehensive and evidence-based approach to improving school safety.”
Joining Gov. DeWine was Director Tom Stickrath from the Ohio Department of Public Safety, State Sen. Frank Hoagland (R-Mingo Junction), State Rep. Gayle Manning (R-North Ridgeville), Director of Children’s Initiatives LeeAnne Cornyn, RecoveryOhio Director Alisha Nelson, and Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Director Lori Criss.
At the press conference, DeWine said the Center will be housed within Ohio’s Homeland Security Division inside the Ohio Department of Public Safety. Seven Homeland Security employees will be moved into the new positions, and no additional funds are necessary to begin operations. The governor said he is hoping the Ohio Legislature will get on board and provide for growth of the Center.
DeWine told the media there were seven features of the department and he hopes others will be added. They include:
- Intelligence analysts will scan social media and websites for threats.
- Center staff will educate schools, students and the public about using the 844-SAFEROH tip line.
- School safety information will be consolidated at www.saferschools.ohio.gov. The website will also announce training opportunities.
- Center staff will provide technical assistance when asked and review school safety plans.
- Center staff will establish a threat assessment policy and train school employees at no cost.
- The Center will host a summit with mental health professionals and safety experts annually or more often.
- The Ohio School Safety Group will be created. It will meet quarterly and include experts from mental health, public safety, education, emergency management and others.
“We have a shared vision for safer schools and I believe the Ohio School Safety Center will be a key tool in preventing violence in our schools,” DeWine said.
During questions, The Ohio Star asked if any of the $675 million appropriated in the budget for “Student Success and Wellness” would be used to grow the Center. Gov. DeWine clearly stated that money was for local districts and would not be used.
“Look, I think everything’s on the table for discussion,” DeWine told The Ohio Star. “I don’t have any real opinion about that, but I know your point. Everything is up for discussion.”
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