Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Schools OKs volunteer active shooter response team

BELLBROOK — The Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Local Board of Education on Thursday night OK’d the creation of “a highly vetted and highly trained” volunteer Active Shooter Response Team.

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No teachers will be permitted to carry firearms on their person in classrooms, the school board said in a prepared statement released late Thursday night.

“The safety of our community’s children is the only responsibility entrusted to the Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Local School District more important than their academic growth. While our district continues to engage national and local subject matter experts to implement best practices for prevention of an active shooting, we recognize the response time of a trained, capable responder is the single most critical factor in saving lives once a mass casualty event begins,” the school board said in the statement.

The board, in the statement, is authorizing the creation of an active shooter response team to develop a layered and balanced safety approach.

House Bill 99, which goes into effect Sept. 12, authorizes school boards to permit staff members to carry weapons into a school safety zone with proper training from the Ohio mobile training team and approval from the school board.

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“We believe once our Active Shooter Response Team is in place, our comprehensive safety protocols will Deter, Detect, Deny, and Defeat anyone intending to harm our students or staff,” the school board said in the statement.

Comprehensive measures include, but are not limited to the following:

◊ Technology that monitors usage of district devices for warning signs or other threats,

◊ ALICE active shooter response training and drills,

◊ Door lock mechanisms for all classrooms,

◊ A new electronic visitor management system that conducts near-real-time background checks,

◊ A state-of-the-art camera system that provides instant remote access to law enforcement,

◊ Raising awareness of the Ohio School Center Tipline,

◊ Multiple suicide and violence prevention initiatives such as school Hope Squads,

◊ The Handle with Care program,

◊ De-escalation training from the Crisis Prevention Institute,

◊ And many other mental health services both within the district and through strategic external partnerships.

Volunteer active shooter response team candidates must submit an application, be interviewed, pass a background check and mental health screening, complete at least 40 hours of training (which exceeds the 24 hours required by the state of Ohio and matches the amount of firearm training required to serve as an armed court officer, bailiff, or probation officer in Ohio), as well as additional annual training requirements and qualifications.

School board members said they recognize the necessity of protecting the confidentiality and operational security of some details of the school safety plan to ensure its effectiveness.

“Only highly-vetted, highly-trained, authorized volunteer staff team members will be able to access firearms,” the school board said.

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