Ashland County school district seeks public input on arming staff

ASHLAND COUNTY - Arming school teachers and staff — it is a controversial topic with strong opinions both for and against it.

The Hillsdale Local School District in Ashland County is taking a proactive approach, asking for input from parents and the public before deciding if it is the right move for their district.

Hillsdale serves roughly 850 students who come from a 96-mile radius.

In May, they started an online survey asking for community input about whether staff should be trained and armed. Out of more than 200 responses so far, Dickerson said, about 80 percent of respondents have said they support arming teachers.

“One of the things I believe in is being honest and upfront with your community,” said superintendent Steve Dickerson. “It’s very touchy and we knew it would be and that’s one of the reasons we wanted to be transparent with it.”

If the school board decides to move forward with it, Dickerson said, the program would be strictly voluntary and staff would be required to go through the intense FASTER training. He added that response from staff has been mixed.

Dickerson also stressed that the survey would not be the deciding factor in whether or not to arm staff, but will help the school board make a decision.

According to the Ohio School Boards Association, school boards do not need to publicize the fact that they've authorized staff to carry firearms.

That’s why there is no readily available database to track how many of the state’s 610 districts have armed staff.

Hillsdale also hired a school resource officer for the next year — an off-duty deputy who will be armed.

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