Jarod’s Law revoked

Jessica Kantor | Staff Writer

Jarod’s Law is being withdrawn from Ohio Law. Jarod’s parents originally wanted to form the law, which was created after Lebanon first-grader Jarod Bennett was crushed to death under a folding cafeteria table six days before Christmas in 2003. The law regulated chemicals and supplies in classrooms. Jarod’s parents said on their website that they were concerned after learning that Ohio was not regulating the school safety precautions for schools K-12.“Although the dangers of the cafeteria table design which killed Jarod had been made public for over 10 years by the federal government’s Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), effective awareness and remediation had not occurred,” the Bennetts said on their website. “Although the emotional pain of losing Jarod is significant and life-long, it would be even worse if we heard of another preventable injury or death in our schools, and we had chosen to do nothing as a result of Jarod’s death.”

At Mason High School, the law was immediately enforced in all classrooms in order to protect students against safety hazards. Barb Shuba, Mason High School’s Science Department Chair who has had experience for several years with maintaining safety precautions in the science classroom, said that the main reason the law was revoked was because of the high expenses for its regulation.

“It was cost-consuming in terms of paying inspectors to come around from building to building,” Shuba said. “In the long run, it was too expensive to uphold.”

Aside from being costly, Jarod’s Law determined very specific rules for classroom safety. Shuba said that this can be attributed to the fact that laws such as Jarod’s Law are created based on individual situations and are instituted because of their impact on a specific, often small, group of people.

“From the start, Jarod’s Law was a law of passion,” Shuba said. “But [Jarod’s Law resulted from a] child getting hurt: it wasn’t because people have dry erase markers in a classroom.”

According to Shuba, the precise regulations from Jarod’s Law transferred more easily than expected into the classroom: it did not have as big of an impact on science classrooms as expected.

“[The law included pre-existing] science standards: Jarod’s Law already basically applied to all science classrooms,” Shuba said. “It was just extending it to every classroom and taking it to a [higher] degree. These things should have been in place, and they already were in science classrooms. The standards, [with Jarod’s Law], were more labeled. Administration already knew where we kept MSDS sheets; they existed before the law.”

Shuba said that the classroom procedures and precautions that are in place are necessary and obvious in some cases. Elementary school classrooms, where all subjects, including science, are taught in one place, already incorporated these standards.

“I would have hoped that Jarod’s Law standards were already in effect in science classrooms,” Shuba said. “[The standards are] normal safety precautions that people should already have.”

According to Shuba, Mason has always had plans in place that keep kids safe from hazards in the classroom. She said that Mason’s plan of action in response to the revoked law will not be drastic or very different at all from the standards that have been in place. Mason’s chemical hygiene plan, which protects students against dangerous or corrosive materials, included most imposed standards from Jarod’s Law already.

“In terms of Mason, we had already incorporated all of Jarod’s Law into our chemical hygiene plan,” Shuba said. “So even though Jarod’s Law was revoked in the state, nothing changed for Mason High School, because [the standards] were already a part of our plan. We amended [our own plan] in some ways, but the basic safety features of needing MSDS sheets, no food in science classrooms and no exposed cords [were already in place].”

With the law’s revocation, most of its requirements will remain in place, but the enforcement of them will be in the hands of each school, according to Shuba. She said that the main difference now that Jarod’s Law has been removed is that school districts are independently responsible for safety precautions in schools.

“We will no longer have [state-organized] inspections: the inspections now are up to the individual school,” Shuba said.

Shuba said that while the law may have been overbearing at times, it did provide important information for the school district.

“It should not have been a good wake-up call, but it was,” Shuba said. “It was a check as to what we were doing correctly. In terms of what chemicals are appropriate for a high school classroom, it was a big wake-up call.”