Mason Co. Sheriff part of state coalition proposing school safety plan.

March 26, 2018

Sheriff Kim Cole

Mason Co. Sheriff part of state coalition proposing school safety plan.

HOLT — Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole was among select law enforcement representatives and education groups who met in the Lansing area last week to unveil their proposals for preventing violence in the classroom. The plan is called the Michigan School Safety Reform Plan.

“I was honored to be one of the seven sheriffs from across Michigan to attend the press conference in Holt last week,” Cole said. “There has been plenty of talk and advice on what should be done regarding school safety.  Now it is time to take action, knock off the political bantering and do the things necessary to protecting our nation’s most precious resources, our children.”

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

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

The plan includes:

  • 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; and
  • Mandatory reporting of threats and graduated penalties to help prevent violence.

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.”

Sheriff Cole said Mason County has been a leader in school safety.

“For the past three years Mason County has rallied around the safety of our children by raising private funding in the amount of over $150,000 towards securing every school room door countywide,” Cole said. “Out county schools have also contributed by securing exterior doors which restricts access to buildings. The Mason County School Safety Planning Team is assisting schools in providing training called ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate).   The Emergency Management Office is assisting reviewing school safety emergency plans and this week the MCSO will be assigning deputies conduct checks on schools as part of their patrol assignments.”

Lansing Public Schools Superintendent Yvonne Caamal Canul said: “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, Michigan’s student to school counselor ratio is roughly 750 to 1.  School social workers are at 1,000 to 1.  School psychologists are roughly 4,800 to 1.  All ratios are well below recommended levels.

“Once adequate personnel are in place, we also need to look at the school facilities themselves,” said St. Clair County Sheriff Tim Donnellon. “We believe it is important to have law enforcement walk through each building at least once a year, so we can identify safety risks and support schools in addressing security issues.”

The plan also calls for improved reporting of school safety threats.

“Our schools have experienced a significant increase in the number of school threats”, said Mark Reene, Tuscola County prosecuting attorney and past president of the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan. “Prosecutors are committed to protecting students, teachers, administrators and the communities that support them. There are very serious consequences for making any type of threat. Whether it requires punitive sanctions or mental health services, this proposal will give the needed tools to help us all address these threats and help keep schools safe.” 

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

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