Ohio Supreme Court increases requirements for arming school staff


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According to the Ohio Supreme Court in a decision issued June 23, 2021, a school board can no longer authorize a staff member to be armed while on duty unless the staff member either has completed an approved basic peace officer training program or has 20 years of experience as a peace officer. Although Revised Code (R.C.) 2923.122 permits school boards to issue written authorization for its employees to carry firearms on school premises, the Supreme Court has held that R.C. 109.78, which requires that additional training or experience, also applies to any school employee seeking to be armed.

In 2018, Madison Local School District implemented what it called a “firearm authorization policy” that permitted school employees to carry concealed firearms at school as long as the employee satisfied certain requirements. Notably, the policy did not require the employee to satisfy the requirements of R.C. 109.78. School boards that have implemented similar resolutions and policies related to arming teachers are now on notice that their efforts may not be in compliance with Ohio law. Violation of the applicable firearm possession statute is a felony, and districts may need to amend policies, contact previously approved staff members and undertake other efforts to comply with the Ohio Supreme Court’s decision.

HB99, which is currently pending in the Legislature, proposes to expressly exempt from peace officer basic training certain employees that a board of education or governing body of a school authorizes to be armed.

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