School districts review safety measures in wake of Oxford incident

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published December 20, 2021

MADISON HEIGHTS/HAZEL PARK — Following the shooting at Oxford High that killed four students and injured seven other people Nov. 30, local school districts have been reviewing the policies they have in place to keep students and staff safe. 

The superintendents of the Madison District Public Schools, Lamphere Public Schools and Hazel Park Public Schools were contacted via email for this story, and asked to share their thoughts on what measures are in place to protect the schools, what’s changed, and what families can do. 
 

Madison District Public Schools
Angel Abdulahad, the superintendent of the Madison District Public Schools, said in an email that district staff have reviewed emergency protocols and procedures, including refresher courses in ALICE training — a preparedness program for active shooter situations — as well as “Stop the Bleed” training aimed at saving the lives of wounded victims. In addition, the district has reinforced its policy of keeping backpacks in lockers, and of limiting visitors during instructional hours. 

“We do lockdown drills several times a year, and we have exercises for our staff to rehearse emergency procedures. We have also partnered with the Madison Heights Police Department to have extra police presence inside our middle school and high school to reinforce our dedication to ensuring that staff and students feel safe in our school,” Abdulahad said. “We are also planning assemblies for our student body to discuss social media and trauma in schools, and we have trauma-trained staff that are prepared at the moment to deal with students impacted by these tragedies.”

Those staff members include social workers and counselors available at each school building to help students work through any mental health needs. More involved cases can be referred to organizations such as Common Ground. 

“We have also offered our social worker and trauma services to Oxford during their time of need,” Abdulahad said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Oxford community.”

He stressed that parents also need to talk with their children about recent events and keep an eye on their online activity.

“We want parents to understand that they should be reviewing their children’s social media accounts and have serious conversations about the implications of making threatening remarks on social media,” he said. “We also ask parents to contact us immediately should they hear of anything alarming that they may want us to review or investigate.” 

Lamphere Public Schools

Dale Steen, the superintendent of Lamphere Public Schools, said that after the incident at Oxford High, his district took a number of additional precautionary measures. 

These included meeting with Madison Heights Police to review the district’s police-approved emergency response plan, scheduling additional active shooter drills in each building with police observation and input, reviewing all emergency procedure with school staff, preparing new video and loudspeaker messages about safety and sharing them in all classrooms in the district, and more.

“Our hearts go out to the Oxford community for their devastating losses during this horrible tragedy,” Steen said in an email. “At Lamphere, the safety and security of our students and staff is our top priority. We are fortunate to have such a strong working relationship with the Madison Heights Police Department. (They) will continue to work as partners with us as we prioritize the physical and emotional safety and security of our students and staff.”

Steen listed some of the district’s pre-existing safety measures, including lockdown drills in each building following the MIREADY “Run Hide Fight” protocol by the Michigan State Police; supervised door access once school begins each day, including a video and buzzer system at each building for visitors; the use of one-way reflective film on windows to prevent people from observing the classrooms from outside; the use of classroom doors equipped with magnets for locking quickly; security cameras inside and outside each building in the district; student ID cards with suicide hotline contact information printed on them; first aid kits with defibrillator devices in each building; and social workers at each school to provide mental health services. 

He said he wants students to feel safe, and to also feel comfortable coming forward with any concerns they may have. 

“We want parents to tell their children that if they ever hear of any suspicious behavior, or if they feel unsafe, they should report it to a building staff member immediately. They should also make sure that they tell you, their parent, about their worries and concerns,” Steen said. 

In addition, students can provide anonymous tips on potential dangers by visiting the website for OK2SAY, which can be found at www.michigan.gov/ok2say. 

 

Hazel Park Public Schools
Amy Kruppe, the superintendent of the Hazel Park Public Schools, said that the district has worked collaboratively with the city of Hazel Park for many years when it comes to school safety.

“Our emergency operations plan is being reviewed again this upcoming week (of Dec. 13) to determine if there are any areas that can be improved,” Kruppe said via email. “We have met with all of our administration, social workers, psychologists and counselors to determine any communication protocols that need to be clarified for student concerns. We’re fortunate that we have a plan in place, but we always need to review this and discuss areas of improvement.”

She said that each building in the district has at least one full-time social worker, and that the district has increased the number of school psychologists and counselors. The district also practices state-mandated safety drills and limits visitor access during instructional hours. Security guards monitor the halls at the junior high school and high school, and each building is surveilled by cameras, as well.

“We all send our children to school to learn and grow — academically, socially and emotionally. We expect them to be safe,” Kruppe said. “Hazel Park Public Schools take the safety of students as the No. 1 job. We all have to be practicing and reviewing safety protocols on a regular basis.

“What happened in Oxford is a tragedy for the families of the students who were harmed, the staff and the community. That community is not only Oxford, but so many of our districts here in Oakland County,” Kruppe continued. “I know that with any tragedy, it is easy to reflect from the outside on what happened. However, none of us know what happened that day, that week or that year within the school. The best thing we can all do is to support the community of Oxford as they mourn the loss of precious life.”