COLUMBUS (WCMH) — As part of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s 17-point plan to reduce gun violence and increase mental health treatment, he signed an executive order in August of 2019, establishing the Governor’s Ohio School Working group and the Ohio School Safety Center which was unveiled Tuesday.
“This center is going to be a one-stop shop resource for all schools across the state, first responders on all things school safety,” said Emily Mayfield, an administrator with the Ohio School Safety Center. “So, learning about the grant opportunities that are eligible to the technical assistance on their emergency management plans, some threat analysis, assistance with anything they possibly need.”
Currently, the center has eight employees, all gathering that information through tips and social media to help prevent any dangerous situations at schools across the state.
The Ohio School Safety Work Group will advise the safety center. The group is made of experts in the fields of public safety, education, mental health, emergency management, and other school safety fields.
The group of experts will continuously evaluate school safety programs and resources to find areas of improvement.
“We can’t have these incidents here,” said Tom Stickrath, director of the Ohio Department of Safety. “Kids have to be safe at school, teachers have to be safe at school, and so we’re going to do everything we can do to promote that.”
Tim Armelli is a teacher at Chardon High School and is a member of the Governor’s Ohio School Safety Working Group. He was a teacher at Chardon in 2012 when they had a school shooting.
“I just left the cafeteria, just a few steps out in the hallway, when the gunshots started,” said Armelli. “You really, you freeze for a moment and you realize this might be your last day on earth. I was able to get to the PA system and put the school on lockdown.”
On that day, six students were shot, three died, and one remains paralyzed.
It’s situations like that which have students, teachers, and parents worried about school safety.
This renewed initiative from the state gave many of the people in this group, including Armelli, a reason to work hard every day.
“They talk about, you know, wake up every day and think about school safety, and that’s been my life since February 27, 2012,” said Armelli.
The Ohio Safety Center maintains the Safer Ohio School Tipline — 844-SAFEROH (723-3764).
The tipline is equipped to handle all kinds of reports, including bullying incidents, withdrawn student behavior, threats observed toward a student, faculty, or school, unusual or suspicious behavior, weapons/suspicious devices on or near school grounds, and even self-harm or suicidal sentiments.