Mike DeWine’s Record of Failure in Protecting Ohio’s Kids

DeWine Owes Public Answers on His Deeply Flawed Rapback Program

COLUMBUS –  While Mike DeWine’s response in the wake of the Parkland massacre has been both lethargic and predictably partisan, his record on protecting Ohio’s kids is even worse; he oversees a criminal-background check system that, on last check, had failed to identify offenses among 80,000 employees for two years, and he stood by as the number of school resource and DARE officers his office supported declined by nearly half during his first term.

On a press call today, an educator and a school support staffer joined Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper in voicing concerns about DeWine’s woeful record and his support for increasing the number of guns in schools — a proposal called “colossally stupid” by gun violence experts. In the wake of the problems that have been revealed in Broward County, Pepper also called on DeWine to provide a full public accounting of the problems with the background check system he oversees that has a direct impact on the safety of our schools.

“We had cases where criminals were in classrooms. Criminals were in the foster system. A man in Steubenville who was charged with raping a child was allowed to continue to be a licensed foster parent because Mike DeWine’s Rapback program never flagged him,” said Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper. “A man who was arrested for domestic violence was allowed to be a special education assistant in a middle school. These are just two real-world examples of how the failure of the program that DeWine specifically oversees left kids vulnerable.”

“We’ve come to the point in the school system where we’re concerned about hiding [and] placing kids in safe spots,” said Lois Carson, vice president of the Ohio Association of Public School Employees and secretary in Columbus public schools for 29 years. “And now they want to arm teachers, putting firearms in schools. I visualize that and I think: I couldn’t see a custodian with a gun. Where would he put it? He can’t put it in his mop bucket. He’s mopping. He can’t put it on his waist because that’s an unsafe situation. A kid could run by and grab it.”

“There’s no funding for things for the social and emotional resources we need in our schools to address our children in a holistic way. Our primary focus as teachers is to protect our kids,” said Gabrielle Jackson, a fourth-grade teacher in Cleveland. “If you’re going to arm teachers, you need to arm teachers with the necessary resources and tools we need to educate our kids. Not with guns. If you’re going to arm schools in any way, you need to be talking about arming kids with the education they need to change their futures. Not with guns. Mike DeWine’s plan is ludicrous in my opinion, and we need to be having a serious discussion about other ways to address trauma in the lives of our children and keep our schools safe.”