Class Held To Train Ohio Educators On School Shooting Situations


UPDATED: Thursday January 17, 2013 6:37 PM

The first in a series of statewide courses that will help teach educators and law enforcement officials about reacting to school shooting situations was held on Thursday in Columbus.

More than 200 people registered to participate in the training, where the instructor told participants that planning and practicing responses for an intruder situation will save lives in case of a real incident.

Teachers have been described as the "first responders" in terms of student safety.

The courses also provide educators with insight on how to identify the action of a shooter before he/she commits crimes. It included looking for signs in their behavior.

Training Officer James Burke said it's important that educators not use the information to profile or label, but rather to get the student help.

"They are the ones who know the normal mode of operation for these kids. They can tell just when they walk in the door if something is off," said Burke.

Burke said he took the final reports from the Virginia Tech and Columbine shootings to show there were red flags, but no one connected the dots.

He said Eric Harris and Dylan Kleibold in Columbine, and Seung Hui Cho in Virginia, had warning signs in their writings, homework and interactions with other students that were red flags that there was a problem.

For instance, he shared with educators a doodle that was written on the top of a Spanish worksheet: A sad face - with the words "You must die."  He also shared an essay on love at first sight, where the student author wrote "I hate each and every one of you."

Both were written by Kip Kinkel, who killed his parents then went to school and murdered two students and hurt 25 others.

Burke said teachers need to speak up when they see something.

“You go to the counselor, you go to the coach, you go to the parents and you bring that name up; I guarantee if they spend any amount of time with that kid they will look at you and go, 'You know what, he did this around me the other day and I thought it was off,’” said Burke.

Teachers said the information has changed their perspective.

“We have to reconsider what we already have in place that's definite, and I am finding the characteristics of some of these active shooters interesting as well,” said Dan Donovan, a spokesman with the Upper Arlington City School District.

"After being in the classroom for 28 years, it is interesting when you think about all the different things you've seen and you are like 'Wow, I never really thought about that,'" said Paul LaRue, a high school history teacher in Washington Court House.

They said that they never thought it could potentially save a life.

The state's Attorney General and the Ohio Department of Education are partnering on the free training for teachers, administrators and some law enforcement officers.

The courses do not include firearms training.

Two sessions were held Thursday in Columbus. Training events also are planned in Cincinnati, Chauncey, Toledo and Valley View over the next few weeks.

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