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Senate hearings on school safety begin

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio Senate is tackling the issue of school security.

Two Republican senators begin a series of public hearings tonight at the Statehouse addressing mental health and violence prevention.

The hearings were prompted by recent violent incidents in Chardon, Newtown, Conn.; Aurora, Colo., and elsewhere.

The deadly shootings have heightened awareness of the need to protect communities and recognize the warning signs of potential danger, Senate President Keith Faber said in announcing the hearings last month.

The joint hearings of the Senate Education Committee, chaired by Peggy Lehner of Kettering and the Public Safety, Local Government and Veterans Affairs Committee, led by Frank LaRose of Copley – scene of a mass shooting in 2011 — will take a broad approach and discuss issues including mental health standards, successful programs on bullying, and safety plans for first responders, Faber said.

Other meetings planned next month to debate security, infrastructure and law enforcement response.

Lehner will chair the hearings focusing on prevention and mental health, schedule for tonight and Feb. 26.

Hearings focusing on security, school infrastructure, law enforcement response, training, and all aspects pertaining to protection will be chaired by LaRose on March 5 and 12.

All the hearings begin at 7:00 p.m. in the Senate Hearing Room.

Lehner and LaRose are asking professionals in the fields of education, public safety, and mental health as well as parents to participate in person or by contacting SchoolSafety@OhioSenate.gov.

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