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school safety

Students sitting at desks in a classroom with a teacher at the front of the room
NeONBRAND / pixabay

The Legislature opened hearings today  on plans to make schools safer from guns and violence. It’s the first actions in Lansing since the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

But there’s little agreement on what to do. School and law enforcement officials opposed plans to put metal detectors in schools. Michigan State Police Lt. Amy Dehner testified before a state House committee. She said grading schools on their security arrangements, and making the grades public is a bad idea.

Ann Arbor Community High students Suephia Saam and Catherine Nicoli protest gun violence in schools in front of City Hall.
Catherine Shaffer / Michigan Radio

Michigan high school students participated in a nationwide school walkout to protest gun violence on the nineteenth anniversary of the Columbine school shooting Friday.

Students organized events at schools throughout the state. At Ann Arbor Pioneer High School, about two hundred students walked out of class and attended a student-led rally in the football stadium. Student speakers demanded tougher gun legislation, and blasted lawmakers for failing to pass popular, "common sense" measures like universal background checks. 

guns in holsters on two people
Lucio Eastman - Free State Project - PorcFest 2009 / CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27373086

Governor Snyder released a plan yesterday to improve safety in Michigan schools following the Parkland, Florida school shooting.

His $20 million plan calls for boosting security at hundreds of schools, setting up a task force to come up with more ways to improve school security between now and the end of the year, more training for school administrators and school resource officers, and expanding the OK2SAY tip line.

The governor says he intentionally stayed away from guns.

School desks
Flickr user Frank Juarez/Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Governor Rick Snyder released a plan Monday to improve school safety following the Parkland, Florida shootings.

The plan calls for boosting security at hundreds of schools, and expanding an anti-bullying tip line. A task force would also come up with more ways to improve school safety between now and the end of the year, when Governor Snyder steps down.

Snyder says these are things he believes could result in a consensus in Lansing.

The proposal also includes more active-shooter training for law enforcement, but does not include any plans directly related to guns.

Thousands of students in Michigan walked out of their classrooms last week to protest gun violence. They don’t want guns in schools, and they especially want assault rifles banned.

Personally, I would probably go even farther. I don’t think anyone should be allowed to own an assault rifle, except if it were kept under lock and key at a shooting range.

But the tragedy of the student protests is this:

Nobody wants to say this, but they aren’t going to go anywhere. The lobbyists of the NRA can count votes. They are mostly silent now, except for the stupidest among them.

School shootings in the United States
Data: Everytown Research | Quartz / Atlas

A former police officer and SWAT team leader didn't believe traditional lockdown drills gave students the knowledge they needed to survive. So, he developed an active shooter training program called ALICE: Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate. Over 4,000 school districts have had ALICE training.

Blue lockers
C.C. Chapman / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

As we debate solutions for gun violence in our schools, teachers and administrators continue to prepare for active shooter situations by holding lockdown drills.

Lance Cpl. Aaron Fiala / United States Marine Corp

A southeastern Michigan middle school student is in custody after authorities say he took an inactive grenade to school and made threatening statements to other students.

 The Monroe Police Department and the Monroe Public Schools say the student was lodged in a detention center Wednesday after a school resource officer found the grenade in the student's locker. The device had been modified and was incapable of detonating. Police say the student showed the device to other students and made the threatening statements. A student reported the incident to a teacher.

Courtesy of Matinga Ragatz

Students returned to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School today in Florida – their first time back after 17 people were killed in a mass shooting two weeks ago.

The Parkland shooting has seemed to galvanize students, citizens, corporations, and politicians into action. Most everyone agrees something must be done to make our schools safer.

Classroom
flickr user Ben W

The Michigan state police picked more than 80 public, private and charter schools to share $4 million as part of the Competitive School Safety Grant Program.

Nancy Becker-Bennett, director of the MSP’s grants and community services division, said schools all over the state applied for the program.

http://www.michigan.gov/ok2say

A Michigan school safety initiative received more than 400 tips in its first semester of operation, according to an announcement today by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and Michigan State Police Director Colonel Kriste Kibbey Etue.

Called OK2SAY!, the program lets students use phone, text, web, and email to submit confidential reports of possible threats to students, teachers and other school staff. 

The 410 verified tips include 163 for bullying and cyberbullying, 54 for suicide threats, and 13 for child abuse.

user MoBikeFed / flickr

Criminal incidents are on the decline in the Detroit Public Schools, according to new data from school officials.

“Serious incidents” such as assault and weapons possession dropped from 456 in the first three months of last school year, to 343 during the same time frame this year—a nearly 25% decline.

“It’s a larger ongoing trend,” said DPS police chief Stacy Brackens. “We’ve had a downward trend since 2010.”

Wikimedia Commons

Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law today legislation that will require Michigan public schools to tighten fire, tornado and lockdown safety drills.

State Rep. Joseph Graves, R-Argentine Township, sponsored the legislation in response to media reports of widespread disregard by schools of safety drill requirements.

The new law requires schools to file by Sept. 15  a schedule of drills for the whole year with their county emergency manager. Schools must also post on their websites notice of a completed safety drill within five days.

The former Carstens Elementary School building, on Detroit's east side, is one of many, many schools that have been shuttered in Detroit.
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

It's been a year and a half since state education leaders called for reforms to Michigan's "zero tolerance" discipline policies. Critics say too many students are still being booted out of school because of zero-tolerance measures and the result is the kids who are getting in trouble and being expelled are the ones who most need help. And they point to the statistics: A disproportionate number of the students who are punished are minorities.

Bridge Magazine contributing writer Ted Roelofs wrote a piece in a recent issue titled "Zero tolerance school reforms hit resistance in Michigan.” He joined us today along with Annie Salsich, director of the Center on Youth Justice at the Vera Institute, to explore zero-tolerance policies and what can be done to promote a safe and productive school environment.

Listen to the full interview above.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan is creating a confidential tip line for students designed to prevent school violence.

A law signed Friday by Gov. Rick Snyder authorizes the creation of a hotline accepting tips by phone, text message, email or through a website or mobile app. The state attorney general's office and other agencies will cooperate to establish the OK-2-SAY program being modeled after one Colorado created after the Columbine shootings.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Public Schools will start issuing “child safety ID cards” in some elementary schools.

The ID card will contain a child’s picture, fingerprint, and other identifying information. Participation is voluntary.

District officials say the cards could help find and identify missing children more quickly.

The district will give one card to parents, and keep the information on file. They say the district will only share the card’s information with law enforcement in the event of an emergency.

young kids playing with toys on floor
Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Every time we see still another story about school violence, we ask the same question: why wasn’t anyone able to stop it?

With still more school violence in the news this week, three Michigan school districts are splitting a $2 million grant to spot and treat mental illness in students.

Saginaw, Houghton Lake and Detroit’s Education Achievement Authority are getting this aid specifically because they're struggling with student mental health or safety issues, according to state and local data.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

When you send your child off to school every day, you entrust the safety of your child to those who run that school.

So, when a new report from the group Save the Children revealed that Michigan is among four states that do not require K-12 schools to have emergency plans for multiple hazards, we wanted to learn more.

Even more, the study found more than half the states and D.C. don’t require schools or day care centers to meet minimum standards to protect children during major emergencies.

Are Michigan schoolchildren adequately protected? What more can and should be done to keep them as safe as possible?

Listen to the full interview above. 

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Safety drills in schools are being ignored

Under a proposal in Lansing, schools would be forced to report when and how emergency safety drills are conducted. As Michigan Public Radio’s Jake Neher reports, state police officials say too many schools are ignoring laws meant to ensure school safety. The reports would have to be posted on schools’ web sites whenever they conduct a safety drill.

Tracking by cell phone GPS could become a felony

Another piece of legislation in Lansing would make it a felony for police officers to track someone by GPS in their cell phone without a warrant. The US Supreme Court ruled last year that the practice is unconstitutional. Democratic state Representative Jeff Irwin says the legislation is necessary to make sure law enforcement agencies are held accountable for such actions.

Fast food workers protesting in Detroit and Flint

Workers at some fast food chains in Detroit and Flint are expected to walk off the job as part of a protest for higher wages today. They want to be paid fifteen dollars an hour. Michigan’s current minimum wage is $7.40. The strike is expected to affect some McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy’s and other fast food restaurants.

Office of Governor Rick Snyder / Wikimedia Commons

Michigan State Police officials say it’s time to crack down on schools that ignore emergency safety drill rules.

A state police task force says schools should be forced to report when and how safety drills are conducted. Those reports would have to be posted on the schools’ web sites.

Republican state Representative Joe Graves is sponsoring legislation he says will incorporate that and other recommendations.

“So Johnny’s mom and dad and grandparents can go on there and say, ‘Yep, he’s getting trained,’ and it goes throughout the year, distributed evenly.”

The task force is part of Governor Rick Snyder’s plan to address school safety issues after recent tragedies, including the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut.

Recent investigations by MLive Media Group suggest many Michigan schools have been breaking laws related to school safety drills.