Officials in an Ohio school district are appealing a decision that struck down its policy of arming volunteer, trained teachers to carry firearms in the classroom, and the decision by the Ohio Supreme Court will have an impact on dozens of districts across the state.
The Madison School District in Butler County, Ohio first adopted a policy allowing for teachers to volunteer for training that would allow them to carry on school grounds as a first line of defense against an active shooter, but shortly thereafter, several parents filed suit with the help of Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun legal firm, Everytown Law. A district judge upheld the policy, but earlier this year the 12th Appellate Court in Ohio ruled that armed teachers must have the same training as police officers before they can carry. Now the school district is appealing the decision to the state Supreme Court, and the case could upend existing policy in districts across the state if the Supreme Court upholds the appellate court’s decision.
The district filed the appeal to the high court Thursday and several other school districts and the Ohio Attorney General’s Office have filed briefs in support. They said “it would be difficult to argue that this case does not present issues of public or great general interest.”
“This is more than a picayune squabble about how much training should be required when a school district exercises its right under the authorizing statute,” attorneys for the district wrote. “As a practical matter, this decision eliminates the ability of a local board of education to decide that the best way to protect students and staff from a hostile actor is by allowing some staff to carry concealed weapons on school grounds.”
The brief by attorneys for Madison Schools argues that the 12th Appellate Court panel erroneously read Ohio law as requiring armed staff to undergo law enforcement training, and Sean Maloney, an Ohio attorney who’s part of the FASTER Ohio organization that has trained thousands of educators in the state, told Bearing Arms back in April that the state legislature has actually approved funding in recent years for the FASTER program. If lawmakers are approving money to provide training for armed teachers, clearly the legislature must believe that these school districts have the ability to set their own training requirements.
The state’s Attorney General agrees, and says if teachers are required to undergo hundreds of hours of law enforcement training, it will simply result in a ban on armed school staff.
In addition to arguing Gabbard’s attorneys and the 12th District Court misinterpreted laws governing armed staff, Attorney General Dave Yost’s staff said there are practical reasons the decision must be overturned. He said it would cost the district $7,265 to send a staffer through peace officer training at Butler Tech. Plus the program is eight hours a day, five days a week, it would take a little over eighteen weeks to complete.
“The reality is that few if any teachers or school administrators can train to become police officers while maintaining their day jobs,” the brief reads. “Thus, as a practical matter, the Twelfth District’s erroneous decision strips schools of an effective means they have to defend schoolchildren from a school shooting.”
I suspect that Everytown Law is going to have their rear ends handed to them by the Ohio Supreme Court on this issue, but if for some reason the state’s highest court upholds the lower court’s decision, expect a quick response from the legislature in the form of a bill making it crystal clear that school districts have the right and power to establish policies and procedures for armed school staff.