Ohio School Safety Center Executive Director Emily Torok says under House Bill 99, teachers would not be the only ones allowed to carry a gun.
She said that schools can choose to arm anyone on the staff — given proper training.
The OSSC has provided to schools a detailed look at the model curriculum that employees need to complete, to be authorized by their boards of education to carry a firearm on school property.
The curriculum, Armed School Staff Essential Training, or ASSET, was created by the Ohio Mobile Training Team, a group within the OSSC.
The team was tasked with creating and providing the framework, included the initial 24-hour certification program and an eight-hour annual requalification program. ASSET training has yet to be finalized but could be by late spring or early summer this year.
The training, according to Torok, will include mitigation techniques, communication capabilities and methods, accountability, reunification and ecology of a critical incident.
“Typically, when you’re presented with a disgruntled parent trying to get to into a school to get to their child that may have a firearm, you would try to talk to them first — develop some rationalization of what’s going on and the situation — and determine, ‘how can we end this in a way that it doesn’t escalate to using firearms,’” Torok said.
“It’s a lot of conversation and conflict resolution that you go through with de-escalation to try to get people on the same page: to not resort to physical violence.”
Torok likened the training to that of a crisis negotiator, trying to get on the same level with the person to “understand where they’re coming from and where their goal is.”
“You have to have scenario-based training, and there was a minimum of four hours in the curriculum that had to be scenario-based training,” Torok said.
Scenario-based instruction will revolve around topics such as mitigation, de-escalation, responding to critical incidents, neutralizing potential threats, and active shooter.
The goal is to provide teachers a real-time look at some of the decisions they will have to make if faced with an active shooter.
“For our training we may set up something that looks like a room in a school, staircase or hallway and we’ll run through and give the participant of the training an idea of where they are in the school, determine where the threat is, what the situation is using a radio call of shots fired — all of this to set the stage for what’s going on,” Torok said.
Learning how to give a threat assessment also will be required of faculty and staff.
“That means talking about personality traits that are recommended to be observed as indicators of what can lead someone to violence. There’s no profile about someone that may become a school shooter, but there may be some indicators that show they could rise to violence,” Torok said
Schools can also report threats on an anonymous reporting option, much like a tip line, where school faculty / staff, students or community members can share their concerns with the OSSC.
From there, Torok said either a school’s assessment team or local law enforcement will investigate how substantial of a threat is presented.
“It’s different by school but anyone that notices these indicators is going to be sharing the information with their threat assessment team, an SRO, or central point of contact,” Torok said.
For schools looking to get their teachers trained, the OSSC said alternative providers can also administer training — as long as it is OSSC-approved and in accordance with HB 99.
An OSSC spokeman said: “This is just one of the tools in the toolbox for school safety — it’s not a one-size-fits-all for schools. At the safety center we put out a lot of resources and schools can decide what’s best for them.”