Every school in Ohio has now filed a safety plan with the AG's office as required by law, but the Attorney General himself says not all them include the information first responders need in the event of an emergency.
In the wake of recent school shootings Ohio's Attorney General began a push to make sure schools in the state were complying with a state law to file safety plans with his office.
"We found that over one half of the schools in this state were not in compliance with Ohio law as far as a school safety plan," DeWine said.
DeWine convened his School Safety Task Force in December to bring together school administrators, emergency first responders, and government officials to review state policies on school safety, including safety plan guidelines. The task force prepared a formal report of its recommendations, which include resources outlining best practices for schools and legislative recommendations.
One of the group's findings was that first responders needed the plans to be quick to pull up and readily available.
The task force created templates, which are available for schools to download online. The template directs schools to include key information and contacts, along with standardized floor plans in the beginning of the document so that law enforcement can easily access it during an emergency. Once a plan is filed with the Attorney General's Office it is uploaded to the Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway, known as OHLEG.
The task force also recommended that the plans be able to be uploaded online, as opposed to the current system where paper copies must be mailed to the Attorney General's Office. The recommendation requests Ohio Department of Education allow safety plans to be uploaded through its SAFE web portal, which will then be transferred to OHLEG for use by first responders.
All schools required under the safety plan law adopted in 2007 have made a submission. However, 189 schools have not updated their plan within three years as required by the law, and another 58 schools' submissions lack either a floor plan or an emergency operations plan.
School employees can also get free training to help them deal with emergencies. DeWine says it does not include firearms training, but rather focuses on two key areas.
"One is how you identify if there is a student who has a problem and what are the things to look for. The second thing is if there's an active shooter in the school what do you do," he said.
DeWine knows that parents worry about their children's safety every day when they send them off to school.
"The truth is that our schools are the safest place our kids can be for the 7 or 8 hours that they're there. we want to make them safer," he said.
The Attorney General insisted that schools not just whip up a plan, but involve law enforcement, mental health experts, and the community at large. He also urged parents to check with their schools to make sure they have an updated plan.
State law doesn't lay out requirements for what the emergency plans look like, only that something be filed. DeWine says they will work with lawmakers if they want to put these recommendations into law.
DeWine says the emergency plans shouldn't just be for active shooters, but also tornadoes, fires, and other disasters.