Local educators discuss school safety measures

By: Nick Mordowanec | C&G Newspapers | Published March 8, 2018

MACOMB COUNTY — The Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, prompted Macomb County educators to convene and discuss whether safety measures can be improved in this day and age.

On Feb. 28, a meeting took place between the Macomb Intermediate School District, Macomb County Emergency Management Director Vicki Wolber and 21 Macomb County superintendents to discuss school safety. MISD Superintendent Michael DeVault organized the meeting.

The Macomb County Schools Crisis Plan was most recently adopted by superintendents in September 2017.

“First, and most importantly, I want you to know that our schools are safe,” DeVault stated in a press release. “School safety is a top priority for all school districts.”

For more than 20 years, the MISD, the 21 school districts, local police and fire departments, the Michigan State Police, the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office and Macomb County Emergency Management have collaborated and worked on developing and implementing a crisis management system.

Plans are reviewed on a continuous time schedule, revising information when advised by emergency experts. On Feb. 28, the group reviewed coordination efforts among school districts and the COMTEC county system; reiterated the importance of the School Safety Committee; encouraged school personnel to continue crisis drills and trainings, as required by state law; and superintendents discussed safety procedures with local law enforcement officials.

“The superintendents strongly encourage parents to speak with their children about sharing difficult information with a trusted adult about any individuals who they believe could be a threat to themselves or others,” DeVault said. “And parents should speak with their children about making inappropriate remarks that could be interpreted as a threat.”

Clintondale Community Schools Board of Education President Jason Davidson said his district maintains controlled access to buildings — such as limited exterior door access — by making visitors buzz into the front office once school is already in session.

He said it’s helpful to have the Clinton Township Police Department in close proximity.

“We have formal security operations procedures, regular drills, security cameras and security guards in some areas,” Davidson said. “We have participated in Police Department-led emergency training in the past, which was extremely helpful, eye-opening and educational.

“We do actively review our security systems, looking to upgrade facility monitoring systems, provide better markings of all doors — interior and exterior — regular training, and coordinating more efforts with local police departments.”

Chippewa Valley Schools Superintendent Ron Roberts said collaboration with the county and local law enforcement is one way to ensure the safety of his students. He said his district has hired more security at both Chippewa Valley High School and Dakota High School that checks visitors in before they enter the buildings. The high school buildings don’t require visitors to be buzzed in, due to having a security check-in desk inside.

Dakota had the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office respond to a threat written in a bathroom on Feb. 15 and reports the following day that students heard someone say they had a gun. No credible threat was found.

On March 2, a Chippewa Valley High School student was arrested for allegedly posting a photo of a gun on social media and a comment that was interpreted as a potential school threat.

“This incident is a reminder that bad decisions carry serious consequences, and I encourage all parents to talk with their children to remind them of the importance of making sound choices whether in the classroom or on social media,” Roberts said following that incident.

Fraser Public Schools Superintendent Dr. David Richards said his district is working closely with local and county officials to review protocols and make any necessary changes to protect his students and staff.

“We are reviewing our training procedures and will be revising our practices based upon the direction of local and county experts,” Richards said. “Providing a safe and secure learning environment remains our top priority.”

Staff Writer Josh Gordon contributed to this story.