MADISON TOWNSHIP, Ohio (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER) - As students return to school in Madison Township, school officials will be permitted to arm their staff – again.
That’s the ramification of a ruling by the Ohio Supreme Court on Wednesday. The legal battle surrounding arming teachers in the district will continue, according to our media partners at The Cincinnati Enquirer.
In 2016, a 14-year-old student shot two other students in the Madison cafeteria and injured two more with a gun he stole from his grandmother. He is in juvenile detention until he turns 21.
Ever since then, a debate has raged in the district about whether teachers and staff should be armed. At one point, a student who was shot in the school received a detention for walking out during a national protest about gun violence. At another, a police officer escorted a grandparent out of a school board meeting when he spoke out against the district’s decision to arm staff. Eventually, the county sheriff put up a billboard advocating for teachers to be armed.
In 2018, the district voted to allow staff to be armed – over the objection of one of the students shot a few years earlier. A group of parents later sued the district to stop that. They argued the staff didn't complete anywhere near the amount of training they should have.
In March, an appeals court sided with the parents and ruled the district didn’t follow the law when implementing its program to arm teachers. The court ordered the district to halt its program, unless more rigorous training was completed.
Gun safety advocates said the case in Butler County could have ramifications across the state, where other districts have similar policies.
Ohio law says for staff to be armed, employees must complete a peace officer training program or have 20 years of active duty as a peace officer. Madison Schools sent staff through a 24-hour training program.
Typically, police officer training can be more than 700 hours.
Madison officials appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court, which agreed to review the case in June. District officials then asked the court to allow them to continue arming staff while the appeal is pending.
On Wednesday, the court ruled in the district’s favor. Both sides will be required to file briefs outlining their positions. It could be several months before a final decision is made.
Students in the rural Butler County township near Middletown began returning to school this month.