RIVERSIDE, Ohio (WDTN) – A Miami Valley school district is increasing its security by re-implementing its team of armed teachers and staff.
Mad River Local Schools is one of the first in the Miami Valley to get approval from the state of Ohio to activate its armed response team. The approval came last week, and the district officially reinstated the team last Thursday.
“It’s very nerve wracking sometimes, especially when you just hear about a shooting and then you have to send your kids to school,” Denise Thornburg, grandmother of a Mad River student, said.
There were 51 school shootings in 2022, according to Education Week. It’s the highest on record since the organization began tracking school shootings in 2018.
Mad River Local Schools Superintendent Chad Wyen said the safety of students, staff and families is the reason why his district made the decision to form an armed response team.
“I don’t want anybody to be fearful in my buildings,” Wyen said. “I want them to feel protected, and this is the way we can protect them.”
First implemented in 2017, Mad River’s armed response team is made up of trained volunteer teachers and staff that have access to firearms located in each building.
The team was put on pause in 2021 because of an Ohio Supreme Court ruling that made training requirements unobtainable for school personnel.
However, Mad River’s team never stopped training.
“All our team members continued to requalify through OPOTA, we continued to go to the range and shoot, we continued to partner with our local police department,” Wyen said.
After House Bill 99 became law in 2022, the district’s extensive training routine grandfathered in and approved by the Ohio School Safety Board last week.
The board released its guidance for arming teachers and staff in mid-December. It requires a minimum of 24 hours of initial training and eight hours of yearly requalification.
Wyen said having an armed response team acts as a deterrent to potential threats, and decreases response time in the event of an active shooter.
“I understand that it’s not for everybody, and it may not be for every school district, but for Mad River local schools, it fits and it’s part of our plan and our community has accepted that,” Wyen said.
Thornburg said it makes her feel better each day knowing teachers are an extra line of defense to keep kids safe.
“I just think that they need to be armed and ready,” Thornburg said.
Mad River is not the only district choosing to arm teachers and staff. Sidney City Schools, West Carrollton City Schools, Bellbrook-Sugarcreek School District and St. Marys City Schools are all in the process of implementing their own armed response teams.