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Thursday, 29 March 2018 15:54

Plans for Safer Schools Unveiled Featured

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With a push for safe schools, students across the United States have not only organized walkouts, but Saturday the March for Our Lives brought out hundreds of thousands of young people protesting school shootings and advocating for an increase in school safety.  The movement came after a series of school shootings with Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida, being the most recent in headline news where 17 students were gunned down by 19 year-old, Nikolas Cruz.

In March, a coalition comprised of Michigan’s top law enforcement and education groups met at a local school to unveil their proposals for preventing violence in the classroom.

“School shootings and bomb threats dominate the headlines.  Violence is followed by mourning, outrage, and calls for reform – before the cycle repeats itself, without any meaningful change,” said Ingham County Sheriff Scott Wrigglesworth. “Michigan law enforcement and Michigan school leaders agree – enough is enough.  It’s time for change.”

The plan calls for a new $100 million grant program for personnel, and a $20 million grant program for safety infrastructure, and other reforms, including:

  • More school resource officers—sheriffs and police—working in school facilities through a new state grant program
  • More school mental health professionals to identify problems early through the same new state grant program
  • Grants to ensure safer buildings for students and teachers 
  • Mandatory reporting of threats and graduated penalties to help prevent violence.

The Michigan Student Safety Reform Plan gives school districts access to funding to hire additional school mental health professionals increasing the ratio of mental health professionals to students in districts statewide.

 “Putting more sheriffs and police on school property and in school buildings will keep our children safe – and prevent tragedies before they happen,” said Michael Rochholz, President of the Michigan Association of School Boards.  “We also need to increase the ratio of school mental health professionals to help assist with early intervention.”

Lansing Public Schools Superintendent Yvonne Caamal Canul added, “We know many shooters often show signs of trouble, long before an attack— and school mental health professionals are the first line of defense.” 

Currently, Michigans ratio is 1 psychologist to every 4,800 students, rather than the ideal 1 for every 1,000 students. Though school social workers are recommended at a ratio of 1 for every 500 students, in Michigan, districts are often at 1,000 to 1, or worse.  Also, school counselors are recommended at a level of 1 for every 250 students - Michigan’s ratio is roughly 1 to 750.

The bipartisanship of these plans also requires a walk through by law enforcement officers of every school building in the state and calls for a mandatory reporting of threats against schools to law enforcement.

Tuscola County Prosecuting Attorney, Mark Reene, ended the meeting saying, “Nothing in this proposal is controversial.  Nothing here is divisive.  These are common sense, bipartisan solutions to a very real crisis, and we look forward to working with the legislature to make them a reality very soon.”

The Michigan School Safety Reform Plan is backed by:

  • Michigan Sheriffs Association
  • Michigan Association of School Administrators
  • Michigan Association of School Boards
  • Michigan Association of School Psychologists
  • Michigan Association of School Social Workers
  • Michigan School Counselors Association
  • Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police
  • Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan

Writer: Dir. Pageant B. Atterberry

Read 1241 times Last modified on Thursday, 29 March 2018 16:05
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