Ohio School Safety Center Adding Regional Support for Ohio's Schools

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For Immediate Release: December 8, 2020

Ohio School Safety Center Adding Regional Support for Ohio’s Schools

COLUMBUS – Ohio Governor Mike DeWine today announced that Ohio’s School Safety Center (OSSC) will expand to include five regional school safety liaisons to provide school safety support and resources tailored to each community.

“Whether students are learning in person, virtually, or a mixture of both, Ohio’s new liaisons will provide individualized support for local schools to help ensure the safety and wellness of educators, students, and the entire school community,” said Governor DeWine. “The liaisons will also expand the capacity of the OSSC to proactively identify school/student safety threats made online and provide this information directly to school and law enforcement officials.”

The liaisons will work to enhance collaborative partnerships between schools, first responders, and the mental health community and will also work to ensure that schools take advantage of existing federal, state, and local school safety opportunities, trainings, and programs. The liaisons will be located in the northwest, northeast, central, southwest, and southeast regions of the state.

The OSSC school safety liaison program is funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs’ FY 2019 Student, Teachers, and Officers Preventing School Violence Grant Program. Applicants must reside in the general area of the state for which they are applying to ensure local knowledge and expertise of available resources and relationships within the community. The deadline for applications is Dec. 30, 2020. To access the posting and apply, visit the Ohio Department of Administrative Services Gateway.  Governor DeWine created the OSSC within Ohio Homeland Security, a division of the Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS), in August 2019. The OSSC is responsible for assisting local schools and law enforcement with preventing, preparing for, and responding to threats and acts of violence, including self-harm. The OSSC annually reviews approximately 5,600 school emergency management plans, offers free school security and vulnerability assessments, and administers the Safer Ohio School Tip Line and saferschools.ohio.gov website.

The Governor also established the Governor’s Ohio School Safety Working Group, a multi-disciplinary team of school safety professionals devoted to improving the overall safety and wellness of Ohio’s students. This group meets quarterly to evaluate current issues regarding school safety and advise the OSSC on its work. The grant-funded liaisons will gather information from local schools on their resource needs and present the findings to the Working Group, allowing the group to tailor recommendations for new trainings, help set the agenda for the annual school safety summit, and assist with the annual school safety climate report.

The OSSC is the latest in a series of school safety initiatives launched by Governor DeWine over the last decade. As part of the 2019-2020 biennium operating budget, the state invested in wrap-around services for schools to design individualized programs to address social and emotional challenges faced by students. Governor DeWine also directed the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to begin working with communities to increase knowledge of risk factors and help parents identify when their child is showing warning signs of a mental illness.

While serving as Ohio’s Attorney General, he provided training to thousands of educators and law enforcement officers on preparing for and responding to active shooter threats.  He also worked with schools across the state to achieve greater compliance on school safety plans and convened a School Safety Task Force that issued dozens of school safety recommendations.

In 2018, he launched a program to assist law enforcement with aerial photos of schools for inclusion in emergency school safety plans and developed an educator’s guide promoting coordination between schools and law enforcement in an effort to prepare for and react to a violent school incident. He also awarded $12 million in grants to schools across the state to help pay for enhancements to school safety and security.