House passes bill on training rules for armed school workers

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 21, 2021

COLUMBUS (AP) — School districts could set their own training requirements for employees they choose to arm under legislation approved by the Republican-controlled Ohio House Wednesday.

The measure aims to undo the effect of an Ohio Supreme Court ruling earlier this year, which held that under current law armed school workers would need hundreds of hours of training. The bill goes next to the Ohio Senate.

Under the bill, school employees who carry guns would need to take the eight hours of training required for a concealed weapons permit under Ohio law, then take 18 additional “general” hours of training and two hours of handgun training.

Employees would also have to complete two additional hours of general training and two hours of handgun training each year.

The bill sets a minimum training standard but not a maximum, meaning school districts could add extra training if they wanted, said bill sponsor Rep. Thomas Hall, a Republican whose district includes Madison Local Schools, the focus of the Supreme Court ruling.

That district had voted to allow teachers and staff who received 24 hours of one-time concealed weapons training to carry firearms following a 2016 school shooting. A group of parents then sued the district to prevent teachers from being armed without extensive training, equivalent to what a police officer undergoes.

The bill passed along party lines. Rep. David Leland, a Columbus Democrat, said the legislation would create potentially deadly situations involving poorly trained school employees.

The bill is opposed by major law enforcement groups and gun control advocates, and supported by a handful of police departments and school districts.

Also Wednesday, the House approved a bill that would make a concealed weapons permit optional in Ohio and eliminate the requirement that individuals “promptly” notify police officers they are carrying a concealed weapon.