Ohio state law doesn’t recognize lions, tigers, bears and a monkey with Herpes roaming the neighborhood as an acceptable reason to close schools.
That means that the Zanesville-area schools that shut down for a day in October after 56 wild animals were released from a local exotic animal preserve could have to make up that day of school, the Zanesville Times Recorder reports.
But Ohio Superintendent of Public Instruction Stan Heffner thinks the time missed should, in fact, be excused and is “working with [the affected districts] to develop the best plan to accomplish this,” Ohio Department of Education spokesperson Patrick Gallaway says.
As written, state law is pretty strict about how many days schools must be open, and about reasons the state superintendent can waive that requirement, namely:
This requirement shall be waived by the superintendent of public instruction if it had been necessary for a school to be closed because of disease epidemic, hazardous weather conditions, inoperability of school buses or other equipment necessary to the school’s operation, damage to a school building, or other temporary circumstances due to utility failure rendering the school building unfit for school use…
Farm owner Terry Thompson released the animals the evening of Oct. 18 and then killed himself. Most of the animals released were shot and killed by Muskingum County Sheriff’s Deputies. The five animals that survived the release — two leopards, two primates and a brown bear — were released to Thompson’s widow Friday.
The release and following events led to calls for new state laws restricting the ownership of exotic animals.