Tecumseh School Board hears review of security measures
Tecumseh Public Schools Supt. Mike McAran addressed school security as a priority item at Monday night’s regular school board meeting. He said that he had met earlier in the day with legislators, the police, and emergency responders to review existing security procedures. The topic is at the forefront of concerns for all school officials in the wake of the tragedy that occurred in the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., last Friday, Dec. 14.
“We put together the first security policy book when Supt. [Richard] Fauble was in charge in 2001,” McAran told the board. McAran said that Tecumseh schools’ building security staff had been among the first in the county to be issued Motorola communication equipment at that time so that all building personnel would have instant communication, not only with other staff but with police and emergency responders. “This was when cell phone technology was still in its infancy, and its effectiveness was demonstrated in a bomb threat situation that was handled after that,” he said.
He said that school staff had been trained in protocol for building emergencies, including bomb sweeps with first responders. In earlier security protocols, staff had been instructed on how to evacuate a building quickly, but that procedure has now been abandoned and a policy of “lockdown” has been instituted. Staff members are instructed to barricade classrooms and to remain quiet. There are different procedures depending on the emergency. Separate rules apply for threatening weather or fire emergencies.
McAran also said that he had met with fellow Lenawee County School Superintendents and State Legislators at a regularly scheduled Lenawee County Association of School Boards (LCASB) breakfast in the Lenawee Intermediate School District TECH Center Monday morning, where the pending bill for allowing concealed weapons to be carried in schools and other public places was discussed. The bill has been passed by both the State Senate and House of Representatives and is currently awaiting signature by Governor Rick Snyder.
State Senator Bruce Caswell, Representative Nancy Jenkins, and a spokesperson for U.S. Representative Tim Walberg were all present at the meeting to listen to county school board concerns.
Before the tragic shooting in Sandy Hook Elementary School, Snyder’s signature on the concealed weapons bill had been considered a foregone conclusion, but the Governor, at this point, has said that he has strong reservations about signing the bill.
McAran said that the school district had conducted workshops with security specialists in the past who demonstrated how easily weapons could be concealed in clothing, and said that school staff had received extensive training in keeping buildings secure.
An audience member asked the board about who was in charge if the school principal was not in the building. McAran said that anyone entering any of the district school buildings is immediately challenged by either the building principal or the office secretary. “The secretaries have been getting heat from some parents because they can’t just walk in and walk down the halls to their child’s classroom,” McAran said. He added that signing in at the building office before proceeding to any classroom has been a long-established routine in all buildings for years. Additionally, student identification tags on lanyards are required in the high school for added security.
Board member Jim Rice and several other trustees and a trustee-elect had also attended the legislative breakfast for the LCASB at the LISD TECH Center. Rice told the audience that individual school districts would be able to remain weapons-free zones regardless of whether the Governor signs the concealed weapons bill or not.
Tecumseh Middle School Principal Rick Hilderley was at the Monday night school board meeting and McAran called upon him for a statement regarding his extra training in security at a seminar he attended in North Carolina. Hilderley said the training had been valuable, and he agreed with McAran’s assessment that the district has adequate school security. “We’ve met with Chief [Troy] Stern [Tecumseh Chief of Police] and we are confident that we have a comprehensive plan for emergencies,” Hilderley said. “But I would like to take his opportunity to personally commend and honor the staff at that building [Sandy Hook Elementary]. It teaches us that we need to go over our plans regularly.”