The appeals court ruled that the more intensive training is required, overruling a Butler County judge who ordered that staff are not peace officers and therefore do not require police levels of training from the Ohio Peace Officers Training Academy (OPOTA). Madison was ordered to stop arming teachers without that increased training.
“The express language of the statute does not suggest an intention to allow teachers or staff to carry a firearm while on duty with less training than that indicated in the statute,” Judge Robert Ringland wrote for the court. “Rather, the plain language of the statute reveals that a board of education may only employ such persons if they have received significant training or have more than 20 years of experience.”
The parents’ attorney, Rachel Bloomekatz, said she wasn’t surprised the high court accepted jurisdiction.
“Given a case of this importance to the safety of Ohio’s children, it was expected that the Ohio Supreme Court would accept jurisdiction,” Bloomekatz said. “The parents expect that, like the Court of Appeals, the Ohio Supreme Court will recognize that Ohio law is clear and that the school board cannot allow teachers to go armed all day, every day, in Ohio classrooms with just a long weekend of training.”
The Ohio Attorney General’s Office and 11 other school districts have filed memoranda in favor of the Madison Schools’ position.
Ohio Sen. Bill Coley, R-Liberty Twp. has introduced a bill that specifically nullifies the 12th District Court ruling. There have been two hearings in the Government Oversight and Reform committee, at the last one on July 21 117 people, including Gabbard testified as opponents of the bill.
Coley said he said he understands there are people who don’t want guns in schools but there are other things to be considered.
“We have a number of situations where law enforcement is 20, 30 minutes away and a bad person can wreak havoc without any fear of reprisal from law enforcement when you know that’s the situation,” Coley said. “So putting the decision of whether or or not to have firearms on premises, leaving that with the local school district is a smart thing for the legislature to do.”
He said he “has no doubt” the Supreme Court will overturn the 12th District opinion, if not SB 317 will take care of the situation. He said there will be at least one more committee hearing on the measure.