As many mourn the Parkland High School mass shooting they also wonder, “could it happen here?”
In a blog posted Saturday morning, Saline Area Schools Superintendent Scot Graden said we should not assume it can’t happen in Saline.
In fact, in my ten years as superintendent, there have been a handful of situations that I feel, if left undiscovered or unaddressed, could have led to a perilous situation for our students and staff. The key was – someone came forward. Someone – a student, a staff member, a parent, a community member – came forward and said something to the administration. Our administrative team knows that every situation brought to our attention warrants investigation. Many times the threat is not direct, and we can get help and support for the person involved. Sometimes it’s a misunderstanding or a comment made in jest or out of a flash of frustration. But, sometimes it’s more. Here in Saline, we have had situations where it was more. And we were able to address it.
Graden wrote that the district continues to prepare for emergencies of any kind, going beyond state requirements.
Nothing is more important than the safety of every child and staff member. Still, it is unlikely that Saline – or any other school – is prepared for an event like a mass school shooting.
He urged people to help school officials identify students in crisis.
Be that awareness through negative social media posts, a drop in grades, a sense of isolating oneself from peers, an uptick in substance use, we can almost predict the student that is troubled to the point of breaking.
People who wish to anonymously contact school officials can use the OK2SAY app by calling 1-855-565-2729, texting 652729 or visiting www.mi.gov/ok2Say.
Earlier this week, Graden listed many of the measures taken to protect students:
- Provided SAS teachers, administrators, paraeducators and others with ALICE training, (Alert, Lock down, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) in the fall of 2014
- Provided SAS employees with School Safety Training provided by Secure Education Consultants (which include former Secret Service personnel) in the summer of 2016
- New employees receive this training each August
- Modified drill schedules to comply with State law and to provide more realistic scenarios
- Secured school buildings during school hours and installed secure entries in each school building, (project was completed August of 2017)
- Modified emergency procedures including the following:
- Discontinued use of code words and began using common language to describe situations and location of emergency, (ex: “Intruder in the cafeteria” instead of “Code Hornet”).
- Provided staff with the ability to utilize building all call to facilitate communication in emergency situations
- Expanded response options beyond traditional lock down
- Began conducting spontaneous emergency drills (including cardiac emergencies)
- Monitor internal communication for threats using Gaggle
- Monitor external social media communication for threats using Social Sentinel