Ohio school adds counselors after Conn. shooting

ANN SANNER Associated Press Published:

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Flags at Ohio state buildings and grounds flew at half-staff on Friday as one state that had seen its own school shooting this year sought to honor the lives of those lost at another school shooting in Connecticut.

Extra counselors were expected to be on hand Monday at Chardon High School, east of Cleveland, where three students were killed in a Feb. 27 shooting spree in the cafeteria.

Counselors have been available to Chardon students since the shooting. But the district will have additional counselors ready for students and staff, said Steven Kofol, assistant to the schools superintendent.

The murder trial for the 18-year-old charged in the Ohio rampage begins next month. The teenager, T.J. Lane, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole if convicted. Investigators say Lane admitted shooting at students but couldn't say why; Lane has filed an insanity plea.

On Friday, a man opened fire inside the Connecticut elementary school where his mother worked as a teacher, killing 26 people, including 20 children.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich ordered flags to be lowered through Tuesday.

The state's top education official reminded school administrators that state law requires them to have safety plans for each of their buildings in case of emergencies. Also, Attorney General Mike DeWine urged schools to file their plans, noting that 145 schools have never submitted their documents.

"These plans are critical for first responders to respond to incidents at school facilities," DeWine said in a written statement.

DeWine said his office's crime victim services section has offered its assistance to Connecticut's victims compensation program if it's needed.

Ohio's acting superintendent of schools expressed the state's condolences to those affected by the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., a community of about 27,000 residents 60 miles northeast of New York City.

"Our hearts ache for you," Acting Superintendent Michael Sawyers said. "Ohio, too, has known the horror of a recent school shooting, and this senseless tragedy reminds us that we must all work together as a nation to make schools the safe places they should be."

In 2007, a 14-year-old student shot and wounded two teachers and two students at an alternative high school in Cleveland before killing himself.

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Associated Press writer Andrew Welsh-Huggins in Columbus contributed to this report.