Officials work to fix outdated school safety plans

Most schools ready to avert tragedies

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.

COLUMBUS — Just as students head back to school, Ohio law enforcement and school officials on Monday focused on working together to ensure that classroom shootings like those in Chardon, Ohio, and Newtown, Conn., remain headlines from the past.

“Schools are still the safest place kids can be,” Attorney General Mike DeWine told those attending a School Safety and Emergency Management Planning Conference. “Statistically, those seven or eight hours … they’re in school, it’s a very safe place.

“But we also know there have been horrible tragedies that have occurred in schools,” he said. “We all have common goal ... to make schools safer.”

This year, a student at Chardon High School near Cleveland received three life sentences for killing three fellow classmates and wounding two others in February, 2012. Last December, 26 students, teachers, and administrators were killed at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School after which their assailant took his own life.

Every school building in the state has filed a safety plan with the attorney general’s office as required under law, but not every plan is created equal.

“What law enforcement was telling us was that some of the plans that were submitted were useless to them and certainly useless in an emergency, “ Mr. DeWine said.

The idea is to have key information, such as a building floor plan, at the forefront of the reports so that law enforcement and fire departments can download the information swiftly in an emergency situation such as an active school shooter.

While every public and private school building in the state has filed a plan, Mr. DeWine said 180 of those were found to be outdated because they’re at least 3 years old. But he stressed that this compares to half of all school buildings not having a plan on file with the state in the immediate wake of the Chardon shooting in early 2012.

Among the 180 listed with out-of-date plans in northwest Ohio are Toledo Junior Academy, Islamic School of Greater Toledo, Clay Avenue Community School in Toledo, St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran School in Milford, St John Lutheran School in Napoleon, Old Fort Elementary School, Old Fort High School, Stryker Elementary School, Stryker High School, Edon High School, Edon Middle School, Hicksville Elementary School, and Hicksville High School.

Tom Amway, Fremont City Schools’ director of facilities and operations, who was in the crowd Monday, said incidents like Chardon, Sandy Hook, and Columbine can’t help but shine a spotlight on the issue.

Contact Jim Provance at: or 614-221-0496.