At a meeting earlier this month, Chippewa Valley Schools Superintendent Ron Roberts said the district has many features in place, intended to keep occupants of school buildings safe.

At a meeting earlier this month, Chippewa Valley Schools Superintendent Ron Roberts said the district has many features in place, intended to keep occupants of school buildings safe.

File photo by Patricia O’Blenes

CVS superintendent discusses school safety following Oxford shooting

By: Alex Szwarc | C&G Newspapers | Published December 20, 2021


CLINTON TOWNSHIP/MACOMB TOWNSHIP — In the first meeting of the Chippewa Valley Schools Board of Education since the deadly school shooting in Oakland County, school safety was on the minds of many.   

At the Dec. 6 board meeting, district Superintendent Ron Roberts said the week of Nov. 29 began one way and ended another.

“The problems we dealt with in our school district were insignificant compared to the problems that Oxford Community Schools had,” he said.

The board meeting began with a moment of silence, honoring the four Oxford students who were killed.

Roberts reminded district parents that many school safety initiatives have been put into place as a result of the Strong Schools, Safe Schools bond.

Over three years ago, voters approved the Chippewa Valley Schools bond proposal. It deals with safety, security and school improvements.

He noted that, prior to any safety measures being implemented, the district met with many law enforcement agencies to determine what to do with the bond money.

Safety improvements he noted were door locks for every classroom that needed them, an emergency alert system that notifies everyone in a building and emergency personnel, adding school guard safety glass outside classrooms and offices, and improved entrances of Chippewa Valley and Dakota high schools.

“As I recall, being in the district a long time, the steady improvements in this area all began after April 20, 1999, which is Columbine,” Roberts said. “We have a lot of things in place that we’ve put in over the years, intended to keep occupants of our buildings safe.”

The superintendent said one item that has come up since the Oxford shooting is metal detectors.

“We’ve been asked to add metal detectors to our buildings at times by community members,” Roberts said. “That’s something we don’t have in our buildings.”

He added that, while the district continues reviewing safety protocols, there are no plans to add metal detectors in the district. Robert said they provide a false sense of security.

“There are many ways around those, whether we’re having after-school activities or other doors in the building — they are not foolproof,” he said. “We know in life that, if there is a will, there’s a way.”

Roberts reinforced that students and staff remain aware and report out-of-the-ordinary activity.

Speaking as to why Chippewa Valley Schools remained open Dec. 2 and Dec. 3, when several school districts around metro Detroit closed due to threats, Roberts noted that every threat and concern brought to the district prior to Dec. 2 was carefully vetted by local police.

“We would never open our doors to students if there was any question regarding safety,” he said.

Roberts reported that two days after the Oxford shooting, 71% of district students were in school.

Board President Frank Bednard, a retired Macomb County Sheriff’s Office deputy, said seconds cost lives in a school shooting.

“That’s why, at Chippewa, we’ve decided to stay with full-time police officers in our schools to save that time,” he said.

A Dakota High School student expressed concerns on how the district handles school safety.

“Now is the time for change. Unfortunately, it takes an event like this to happen for true change to occur,” he said. “I am deeply dissatisfied and disappointed with the apparent apathetic approach our school district has taken upon hearing of the Oxford shooting.”

Discussing safety protocols, he said the district is taking a reactive approach, not a proactive one.