Hundreds of Ohio Teachers, as well as Teachers’ Unions, Safety and Education Experts, Law Enforcement and Cities of Columbus and Cincinnati Also Filed Briefs Urging the Court to Side with the Parents
BUTLER COUNTY, Ohio — Parents challenging the Madison Local School District’s armed teachers program have urged the Ohio Supreme Court to uphold an appeals court ruling ordering the district to halt the program, which allows teachers to carry hidden, loaded weapons in classrooms with minimal training. The plaintiffs, parents with children in the school district, are represented by attorneys from Everytown Law, the litigation arm of Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, and Columbus-based attorney Rachel Bloomekatz.
In a brief filed with the state’s highest court, attorneys for the parents wrote that the Ohio 12th District Court of Appeals correctly determined the school district’s 24-hour training requirement for armed staff fell well short of the rigorous training required under state law.
“It is terribly disappointing that our board would allow teachers to go armed at school with so little training and oversight, even allowing one staff member who failed an accuracy test twice to carry a deadly weapon around our children,” said Erin Gabbard, one of the parents challenging the policy. “I hope the Ohio Supreme Court recognizes, as the Appeals Court did, that Ohio law requires all school staff that carry guns at school to have extensive training. That is what is necessary to keep our kids safe at school.”
Numerous groups filed amicus briefs in support of the parents, including two Ohio teachers unions, hundreds of Ohio teachers and school staff, law enforcement experts, the cities of Columbus and Cincinnati, professors of education from The Ohio State University College of Education and other Ohio universities and a legal expert on statutory construction.
“As the appeals court recognized, Ohio law requires that teachers undergo extensive training before carrying hidden, loaded handguns in classrooms,” said Rachel Bloomekatz, a Columbus-based attorney. “School districts have a legal responsibility to meet this sensible requirement. This is about protecting students, teachers, and staff.”
“As recognized by teachers, unions and safety experts throughout the state, Ohio’s training standards protect students, teachers, and staff,” said Alla Lefkowitz, director of affirmative litigation for Everytown Law. “School districts cannot circumvent the mandatory training requirements by labeling their armed staff as ‘volunteers.’”
Though the Court of Appeals’ March order applied only to the Madison Local School District, it called into question the legality of armed school staff programs statewide, many of which use the same training provided by FASTER Saves Lives, a program of the Buckeye Firearms Foundation. As Judge Hendrickson wrote in his concurring opinion, “[i]t makes little sense that the legislature would recognize the need to protect students by ensuring that school peace officers and security guards who are armed are properly trained and experienced, but then allow administrative staff and teachers employed by the school to walk around armed after having only minimal training (in this case, 24 hours) and minimal exposure to active shooter incidents.