By Grace Krane
On September 8, the Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Board of Education announced their unanimous decision to implement an Active Shooter Response Committee and Team into Bellbrook’s schools.
This decision came after House Bill 99 was passed by the Ohio Legislature, authorizing school boards to allow staff members to convey weapons in a school safety zone if they have undergone proper training. The volunteer staff members, as stated by House Bill 99, are required to undergo 24 hours of training. However, Bellbrook’s board almost doubled the amount of training necessary when stating members of the Volunteer Active Shooter Response Team will complete 40 hours. In addition, volunteer members will go through an interview process by the Active Shooter Response Committee and a background check including a mental health screening.
Some students at Bellbrook High School are skeptical of looking to staff to create an armed Response Team. Senior Samantha Goodwin stated, “We already have the Student Resource Officer here, so I don’t necessarily think that teachers have to become that resource.” While the Response Committee is still determining the response protocols for volunteer staff, many students are wondering how this will change current lockdown procedures. Goodwin additionally responds to the concern of teachers potentially being told to leave their classrooms and students to find the intruder. “When we think about a lockdown drill, [students] are all either staying in the room or running out. They need a teacher there to protect them, and I just don’t see how practical it is,” stated Goodwin.
As the Response Committee is tasked with helping students and staff feel safer, their new Response Team seems to have the opposite effect so far. “It actually scares me a bit to think about. One of my teachers could potentially end somebody else’s life trying to save ours. I’m grateful for the fact that ideally less of my classmates’ lives would be lost, but not without the potential to witness a teacher, someone we see everyday, shoot somebody,” responded senior Acey Faulkner.
In addition to the Response Committee and Team, the press release notes new security technology and an increase in raising awareness for mental health services and clubs such as the Hope Squad and Handle with Care Program in Bellbrook Schools. However, students do not feel these initiatives increase their safety by much. Senior at Bellbrook High School Jacob Grismer states, “Locking the schools down may be effective, but it does just send the message that we are more like the problem or danger. Instead of: we are here to protect the students and their well-being.” Grismer believes that the initiatives don’t reach people outside of school hours, stating, “I would prefer the school would do more things, especially to have a way to help people with abuse or trauma outside of school.”
To review the BOE’s decision, visit the following article that outlines specifically what was determined about the new Team and Committee: https://www.sugarcreek.k12.oh.us/protected/ArticleView.aspx?iid=5AGIII&dasi=300I