Safety and Violence Education Students (SAVE Students) Act

Requirements for Safety and Violence Prevention in Ohio Schools

 
Many districts and schools have practices around prevention and safety to support students. Districts and schools should review their practices and determine if they need to amend current policies or add practices to satisfy the requirements of House Bill 123, also known as the Safety and Violence Education Students (SAVE Students) Act.

Ohio's 133rd General Assembly enacted House Bill 123, the "Safety and Violence Education Students (SAVE Students) Act," regarding school security and youth suicide awareness education and training. The state legislation calls for a comprehensive approach to school safety involving the Ohio departments of Education, Public Safety, Mental Health and Addiction Services and Attorney General’s Office.
 
The SAVE Students Act supports Ohio’s strategic plan for education, Each Child, Our Future, which recommends the adoption of a whole child model of education. Ohio’s Whole Child Framework places the child at the center with the support of the district, school, family and community. Safety is one of the five pillars, and student success is dependent on whether the students feel safe and supported in school. Schools, families and communities must work together and take a comprehensive approach to school safety. A comprehensive approach includes meeting the physical and emotional safety of both students and educators. When implemented together, prevention curriculum, peer-led clubs, emergency management plans and threat assessments can create safe and caring learning and working environments for all.
 
This webpage outlines the SAVE Students Act emotional and physical safety requirements that create safe and supportive environments. Emotional and physical safety requirements include integrating evidence-based suicide awareness and violence prevention and social inclusion into health curriculum. Schools are encouraged to implement peer-led violence prevention clubs.
 
Physical safety requirements provided by the SAVE Students Act include creating and implementing threat assessment teams and plans, including threat assessment plans and protocols into emergency management plans and using anonymous tip line reporting. The legislation also extends school climate and school safety grant eligibility to educational service centers. Each of the subject areas on this webpage serves as guidance regarding the requirements in the SAVE Students Act for schools and districts when creating safe and supportive environments for students.

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Health Curriculum

Starting July 1, 2023, and annually thereafter, Ohio law indicates that school districts must include in health education at least one hour (or one standard class period) of evidence-based instruction for students in grades 6-12 in each of the following topics:
  1. Suicide awareness and prevention;
  2. Safety training and violence prevention; and
  3. Social inclusion.
 
For the instruction required under this section, the local board must use a training program approved by the Ohio Department of Education. Parents may opt their children out of the instruction. See below for further information on evidence-based trainings.
 

Evidence-based Suicide Awareness and Violence Prevention Trainings and Social Inclusion 

The Ohio Department of Education, in consultation with the Ohio departments of Public Safety and Mental Health and Addiction Services, will maintain a list of approved, evidence-based training programs for instructing staff and students on suicide awareness and prevention and violence prevention as described in Ohio law. The list includes at least one option that is free or of no cost to schools is currently available.
 
The approved training programs for suicide awareness and prevention and violence prevention must be evidence-based and include the following:
  1. How to instruct school personnel to identify the signs and symptoms of depression, suicide and self-harm in students;
  2. How to instruct students to identify the signs and symptoms of depression, suicide and self-harm in their peers;
  3. How to identify appropriate mental health services within schools and larger communities and when and how to refer youth and their families to those services;
  4. How to teach students about mental health and depression, warning signs of suicide and the importance of and processes for seeking help on behalf of self and peers and reporting of these behaviors;
  5. How to identify observable warning signs and signals of individuals who may be a threat to themselves or others;
  6. The importance of taking threats seriously and seeking help; and
  7. How students can report dangerous, violent, threatening, harmful or potentially harmful activity, including the use of the district's chosen anonymous reporting program.
 
The approved training programs for social inclusion must be evidence-based and include the following:
  1. What social isolation is and how to identify it in others;
  2. What social inclusion is and the importance of establishing connections with peers;
  3. When and how to seek help for peers who may be socially isolated; and
  4. How to utilize strategies for more social inclusion in classrooms and the school. 
 

Evidence-based Definition

The board of education of each city, exempted village and local school district and the board of each cooperative education school district established must work to improve school safety outcomes through evidence-based programs. Evidence-based is defined by Ohio law as a program or practice that does either of the following:
  1. Demonstrates a rationale based on high-quality research findings or positive evaluation that such a program or practice is likely to improve relevant outcomes and includes ongoing efforts to examine the effects of the program or practice; or
  2. Has a statistically significant effect on relevant outcomes based on:
    1. Strong evidence from at least one well-designed and well-implemented experimental study;
    2. Moderate evidence from at least one well-designed and well-implemented quasi experimental study; or
    3. Promising evidence from at least one well-designed and well-implemented correlation study with statistical controls for selection bias.
 

Student-led Violence Prevention Clubs

To promote school safety and violence prevention, districts, community schools and STEM schools may designate student-led violence prevention clubs for schools serving grades 6-12. This is not a requirement for schools, but Ohio law permits schools to designate violence prevention clubs. Existing clubs may be used as designated violence prevention clubs.


Each local, city, exempted village and joint vocational school district, community school and college-preparatory boarding school may designate a student-led violence prevention club for each school building in the district or school serving grades 6-12. If created, each club must do the following:
 
  1. Be open to all members of the student body;
  2. Have at least one identified adult advisor;
  3. Implement and sustain suicide and violence prevention and social inclusion training and awareness activities; and
  4. Foster opportunities for student leadership development.
 
Students often can relate to one another’s experiences and help each other process and problem-solve in peer-led clubs. Peer-led clubs include a trusted group of students and staff students can count on to listen, provide a sense of security and belonging and allow students to thrive. Peer-led groups offer the developmental benefits of peer group mentoring, provide support and build students’ confidence and sense of efficacy. Peer-led groups provide a team atmosphere, which helps participants recognize they are not alone.

Some examples of existing clubs may include programs at school and in the community that provide a safe space for students and empower them to address pressing issues, including violence prevention, suicide prevention, social inclusion and school safety. The following groups are free to districts and schools:
 

Threat Assessment Approval

Ohio law indicates that by March 24, 2023, the Ohio Department of Public Safety, in consultation with the Ohio Department of Education and Attorney General’s Office, must develop and maintain a list of approved training programs for school threat assessment team members, one of which must be free or of no cost to schools.

 
Each program approved under this section must be an evidence-based program that provides instruction in the following:
  1. Identifying behaviors, signs and threats that may lead to a violent act;
  2. Determining the seriousness of a threat; and
  3. Developing intervention plans that protect the potential victims and address the underlying problem or conflict that initiated the behavior and assessment of plan results.
 
The Ohio Department of Public Safety will publish the approved program list on the Ohio School Safety Center website by the end of August. This webpage also will include the application form and process for getting additional courses evaluated under the statutory standards for approval.
 
 

Threat Assessment Teams

Beginning no later than March 24, 2023, each local, city, exempted village and joint vocational school district must create a threat assessment team for each school building in the district serving grades 6-12. If a school building has a similarly constituted safety team as of the effective date, that team also may serve as the threat assessment team as long as it complies with the below training requirements.
 
Ohio law states that upon appointment and once every three years thereafter, each team member must complete an approved threat assessment training program from the list maintained by the Ohio Department of Public Safety.
 
Each district building must include proof of completion of an approved training program by each team member in the building's emergency management plan submission to the Director of Public Safety. Each team must be multidisciplinary, when possible, and may include school administrators, mental health professionals, school resource officers and other necessary personnel.
 
The Director of Public Safety Center will establish an administrative rule in late 2021 describing which documentation is required to meet this requirement and how it can be submitted in the school safety plan application.
 
 

Model Threat Assessment Plan

By March 24, 2023, the Ohio Department of Public Safety, in consultation with the Ohio Department of Education and Attorney General’s Office, must develop a model threat assessment plan that may be used in a building's emergency management plan developed under Ohio law. The model plan must do at least the following:

  1. Identify the types of threatening behavior that may represent a physical threat to a school community;
  2. Identify individuals to whom threatening behavior should be reported and steps to be taken by those individuals;
  3. Establish threat assessment guidelines, including identification, evaluation of seriousness of threat or danger, intervention to reduce potential violence and follow-up to assess intervention results;
  4. Establish guidelines for coordinating with local law enforcement agencies and reports collected through the district's chosen anonymous reporting program and identify a point of contact within each agency; and
  5. Conform with all other specifications in a school's emergency management plan.

Evidence-based threat assessment processes or best practice threat assessment guidelines created by the national threat assessment center must be a resource when developing the model threat assessment plan.

The model plan will be accessible on the Ohio School Safety Center website by March 24, 2023 for schools to use. The Ohio School Safety Center recognizes that schools across Ohio already have created threat assessment programs and use their own providers. The Ohio School Safety Center will research and identify best practices to include in the policy to ensure existing programs are taken into consideration and schools without policies would be able to use this guidance to implement their own programs. In addition, a model policy is expected by December 2021.

Administrators are required to add the following new components to the school emergency management plan:
  1. A threat assessment plan as prescribed in Ohio law. A building may use the model plan developed by the Ohio Department of Public Safety;
  2. A protocol for school threat assessment teams established in Ohio law.
 

Anonymous Reporting System

Beginning with the 2021-2022 school year, each local, city, exempted village and joint vocational school district must register with the Safer Ohio School Tip Line operated by the Ohio Department of Public Safety or enter into an agreement with an anonymous reporting program of the district's choosing. The reporting program must meet the following requirements:
 
  1. Operate 24 hours per day, seven days per week;
  2. Forward reported information to and coordinate with the appropriate school threat assessment teams and law enforcement and public safety agencies required under the school's emergency management plan;
  3. Be promoted in each district school to inform students about the reporting program and its reporting methods; and
  4. Comply with Ohio law, as well as federal law.
 
The Safer Ohio School Tip Line (844-723-3764) is a free safety resource available to all Ohio schools. The tip line is an anonymous reporting system that accepts both calls and texts 24 hours a day. This service enables students and adults to anonymously share information with school officials and law enforcement about threats to student safety—whether that involves a threatened mass incident or harm to a single student.
 
This free service is provided by the Ohio School Safety Center in partnership with the Ohio Department of Education. Registration is available on the Ohio School Safety Center website. Schools and districts can request free printed posters and brochures to share with their students.
 
The Ohio School Safety Center soon will upgrade this free service to provide a dashboard for schools, with instant access to tip information. The new system also will increase accessibility with extra language options and have crisis response professionals available to answer calls. 
 
Each district that registers with an anonymous reporting provider must specify in the agreement that the provider must annually submit a report to the Ohio departments of Public Safety and Education with the following information disaggregated by school: 
  1. Number of anonymous reports made through the reporting program; and
  2. Method by which they were received. 
 
A reporting process will be established and communicated by the Ohio departments of Public Safety and Education before the 2021-2022 school year begins.
 

Annual Data Reporting

Each school district’s report on disciplinary actions and mental wellness referrals resulting from anonymous tips is due at the end of the first full school year of the district's participation in the tip line. The deadline will be June 2022. 

 
Each district must submit disaggregated data to the Ohio Department of Education and Ohio Department of Public Safety in June 2022. The Safer Ohio School Tip Line or an alternative anonymous reporting program may be used to collect this data. The data must include the following:
  1. The number and type of disciplinary actions taken in the previous school year as a result of anonymous reports;
  2. The number and type of mental wellness referrals as a result of anonymous reports;
  3. The race and gender of the students subject to the disciplinary actions and mental wellness referrals as a result of anonymous reports; and
  4. Any other information the Ohio departments of Education and Public Safety determine necessary.
 
A reporting process, including reporting deadlines, will be established and communicated by the Ohio departments of Education and Public Safety before the 2021-2022 school year begins.
 
Any data collected by the Safer Ohio School Tip Line or another anonymous reporting program or related data reported to the Ohio departments of Education or Public Safety are security records and not subject to public records laws.
 

Emergency Management Plans: Rules, Submission and Content

Ohio law moves the existing school emergency management plan rulemaking authority from the Department of Education’s jurisdiction to the Director of Public Safety.
 
There is no immediate change to the way schools must submit plans through OH|ID. The Ohio departments of Education and Public Safety will work together to ensure a smooth transition for schools and minimize issues with obtaining compliance. The administrative rule establishing these requirements will be updated in late 2021 and will incorporate all feedback previously submitted to the Ohio Department of Education. Schools will not be required to submit the threat assessment plan and protocol required by the SAVE Students Act, until the administrative rule is established later this year, communication is provided to schools on how to comply and the school safety application is updated to accept these documents.
 

School Safety and School Climate

Educational service centers now are eligible to apply for and receive the state-funded school safety and school climate grants. The Ohio Attorney General's Office concluded the most recent grant application process in January 2021. The Ohio Attorney General notified all superintendents and educational service centers of the application requirements in December 2020. For future grant opportunities and a variety of services, visit the Ohio Attorney General Services for Schools website.
 

Approved Evidence-based Suicide and Violence Prevention and Social Inclusion Programs

Ohio law requires districts to include in health education for grades 6-12 at least one hour (or one standard class period) of evidence-based instruction in each of the following topics. The lists below have been approved for suicide prevention programs for adults working with students, suicide prevention programs for students, violence prevention programs for students and social inclusion programs for students. These items were reviewed and rated by the Ohio Suicide Prevention Evidence-based Program Workgroup as evidence-based according to the provisions outlined. This workgroup is comprised of suicide prevention professionals across Ohio. These suicide prevention professionals represent state agencies, local alcohol, drug addiction and mental health services boards, institutions of higher education and behavioral health providers. Ohio’s Suicide Prevention Evidence-based Program Workgroup will work collaboratively with partners and coalitions in the planning and implementation of the initiative’s goals. To meet the definition of evidence-based, all components of the program must be implemented with fidelity and may exceed the minimum amount of time required. The lists include at least one option that is free or of no cost to schools.
 

Programs

Suicide and Violence Prevention Programs for School Personnel and Students

The programs in this section include direct instruction on the following required components:
  • How to instruct school personnel to identify the signs and symptoms of depression, suicide and self-harm in students;
  • How to instruct students to identify the signs and symptoms of depression, suicide and self-harm in their peers;
  • How to identify appropriate mental health services within schools and larger communities and when and how to refer youth and their families to those services;
  • How to teach students about mental health and depression, warning signs of suicide and the importance of and processes for seeking help on behalf of self and peers and reporting of these behaviors;
  • How to identify observable warning signs and signals of individuals who may be a threat to themselves or others; and
  • The importance of taking threats seriously and seeking help.
These programs do not incorporate the required component of how students can report dangerous, violent, threatening, harmful or potentially harmful activity, including the use of the district's chosen anonymous reporting program. However, by implementing an anonymous reporting system, this requirement will be met.
 

Suicide Prevention programs for school personnel (adults working with students) 


Hope Squad 
Audience: Youth and adult component
  • There are costs associated with this training.

Sources of Strength 
Audience: Youth and adult component
Sandy Hook Promise Say Something (version 2021) 
Audience: Youth component
  • There is a no cost option through online modules on the website. Costs are associated with instructor-led, in-person or virtual trainings.
  • The upcoming version will meet all criteria including how students can report dangerous, violent, threatening, harmful or potentially harmful activity, including the use of the district's chosen anonymous reporting program.
 

Social Inclusion Programs for Students

The following program provides direct instruction on the following components:
  • What social isolation is and how to identify it in others;
  • What social inclusion is and the importance of establishing connections with peers;
  • When and how to seek help for peers who may be socially isolated; and
  • How to utilize strategies for more social inclusion in classrooms and the school
 
Start With Hello is one of Sandy Hook Promise’s Know the Signs programs that teaches students to be more socially inclusive and connected to each other. This program is of no cost to schools and districts.

Last Modified: 3/24/2021 2:34:12 PM