Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Ohio school inspection rules rescinded

Ohio's 2009 budget, as has recently been reported, contained provisions recinding "Jarod's Law" rules, which had been in effect since 2007, returning the conduct of school inspections to two inspections a year with the rules in effect before 2007 to be once again used as the guideline/standards.

In December 2003, six-year-old Jarod Bennett was instantly killed when a school cafeteria table fell on him. Two years later, in 2006, the Ohio General Assembly passed Substitute House Bill 203, or "Jarod's Law," which then-Govenor. Bob Taft signed it into law. That bill required local health departments to conduct annual inspections of school buildings and grounds to identify health and safety hazards. ( Legislative Service’s analysis )

Portions of HB 1, signed by now-Gov. Ted Strickland on July 17th., “repeals the laws establishing School Health and Safety Network and corresponding provisions of law… It requires school districts, community schools, STEM schools, and chartered nonpublic schools to periodically review their policies and procedures to ensure the safety of students, employees, and other persons using a school building from any known hazards in the building or on building grounds that, in the judgment of the board or governing authority pose an immediate risk to health or safety. Those boards or governing authorities must also further ensure that its policies and procedures comply with all federal laws and regulations regarding health and safety applicable to school buildings. ( Complete Legislative analysis here )

"The act requires boards of health to inspect the sanitary condition of schools semi-annually rather than annually, as in prior law. However, the act repeals the authorization for boards of health to close a school for an imminent public health threat other than an epidemic or a high prevalence of communicable disease. The act also repeals the requirement that the Director of Health adopt rules establishing minimum standards for school sanitary inspections."

Early last month, the Ohio Department of Health issued a memo indicating that it would begin the process of rescinding Ohio Administrative Code rules 3701-54-01 through 3701-54-09 by October 16, 2009. "Although, schools are required to be inspected twice per year ," the memo says, "there are no rules or standards to which those inspections must adhere. Historically, ODH Bureau of Environmental Health provided guidance for the conduct of these inspections. ODH will continue to recommend the use of the school inspection manual (what was Jarod's Law) for conducting sanitary school inspections."

Ohio Department of Health website
Current (rescinded) OAC rules

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