New Ohio Law Requires Ohio Schools to Alert Parents If Child Is Missing From Class

Published on April 5, 2019

Dayton, Ohio (WKEF/WRGT) –Today, Ohio will now implement a new law that requires schools to contact parents if their child doesn’t show up to class.

The new law, ‘Alianna’s Alert,’ is named in honor of 14-year-old, Alianna DeFreeze, a Cleveland resident who was abducted at her bus stop in January 2017 and taken to an abandoned home where she was later found dead three days later.

The spirit of the law came about because DeFreeze’s family had no idea she was missing until after school when she never came home and was never notified by the school that their daughter never showed up to school.

Consequently, Christopher Whitaker (44), a registered sex offender was convicted in DeFreeze’s killing and sentenced to death.

Sponsored by Ohio state Senator, Sandra Williams (D-Cleveland), the Ohio law marks a pivotal point in the education system that helps preserve and maintain the safety of students across the state.

Legislative History


Sponsor: Ohio Senator, Sandra Williams (D-Cleveland)

Senate Bill 82 (SB-82)

Back in April 2018, the Ohio State Senate passed Senate Bill 82 (33-0) in favor of ‘Alianna’s Alert.’

After more than a year of hearings and testimony, SB-82 received bipartisan support and moved to the House of Representatives.

House Bill 66

House Bill 66 (HB-66) contained SB-82, which was merged into this piece of legislation that contained ‘Alianna’s Alert’ language, requiring schools to notify parents within 2 hours of the start of school if their child was not marked in attendance.

Understanding ‘Alianna’s Alert’

Under the Ohio law, every school in Ohio will now be required to call parents within 2 hours or 120 minutes of the beginning of the school day if their child is marked absent from class.

However, this only applies if the school did not receive prior notification from parents ahead of the school day letting them know their child wouldn’t be in attendance.

“I am pleased that Governor Kasich signed Alianna’s Alert into law,” said Senator Williams. “This bill takes an important step toward ensuring that our children are safe when walking or taking public transportation to school. Alianna’s Alert will be a constant reminder that the safety of our children should be of serious concern.”

Back when the bill initially passed the Senate last April, Senator Williams expressed her deep concern and horror for the events that took place giving rise for this legislation.

“The events that took place surrounding the abduction and traffic death of Alianna DeFreeze are horrific. It is also terrifying that Alianna’s family was unaware that she was missing from school for such a long period of time. I sponsored this legislation to take precautionary measures to ensure that every child is safe, specifically those students who are not transported by the school system.”

While SB-82 was not designed to place blame with the school districts for what happened to Alianna, it does ensure that Ohio parents are made aware of when their children aren’t in class when they are supposed to be, so they can take appropriate measures to avoid horrific instances such as DeFreeze’s.

Andrew "Drew" Rossow is a former contract editor at Grit Daily.

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