Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder shares school safety initiatives

Gov. Rick Snyder yesterday unveiled a plan to phase-in new school safety initiatives designed to help ensure students in Michigan can focus on growing and learning rather than being worried about violence in school.

“Recent tragedies taking place in schools nationwide have escalated emotions and driven some people to entrench upon a single position. But there is no one simple solution to solve this terrible problem and prevent it from ever happening again,” said Snyder, who himself is a survivor of a school shooting. “A multifaceted approach is the best way we can ensure stable learning environments for Michigan’s students while simultaneously protecting them.”

In cooperation with his legislative partners, Snyder has been working to learn about best practices nationwide in dealing with the threat of violence in schools in many different forms. The Governor has enlisted the help of the departments of State Police, Education, and Health and Human Services to help find ways to strengthen Michigan’s existing practices and propose new solutions.

“We have some outstanding programs but it’s time we did more to enhance and expand upon those initiatives,” Snyder said. “We also need to work more closely with other states to tackle shared challenges and enhance the safety of our communities and schools.”

The Governor’s initiatives cover the areas of preparation, intervention, response, and recovery and include:

Preparation

  • Schools to develop comprehensive school safety plans, including behavioral health policies, student reporting mechanisms, emergency response and building safety requirements
  • Require that schools be audited and submit incident reports to law enforcement
  • $20 million for immediate and long-term, comprehensive improvements to school facilities
  • $2 million in Fiscal Year 2018 to secure schools that require basic security upgrades, such as functioning, locking doors
  • $18 million in Fiscal Year 2019 for school safety grants to strengthen buildings, improve lock systems, and upgrade communications to be prepared for emergencies
  • Update and strengthen Michigan’s All Hazards Emergency Operations Planning Guidance for Schools
  • Establish a temporary School Safety Task Force made to develop specific recommendations before the end of this year to launch these initiatives and provide additional best-practice recommendations
  • Establish a permanent Safe Schools Commission to review and help update the state’s School Safety Plan annually

Intervention

  • Ensure school teachers, administrators, other school personnel, and families have the requisite training to identify when students are in need of mental or emotional counseling and support
  • Pilot a $2 million grant program this year in which Intermediate School Districts can apply for a competitive grant for behavioral assessment training for their administrative and academic teams
  • Triple the funding for exposure of the OK2Say program and requiring student-led awareness programs, as well as resources to address the increasing volume of tips from students
  • Require all schools to provide the state with basic information on their tip lines to ensure the appropriate resources are available

Response

  • Direct the Michigan Council on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES) to create a tiered training for school resource officers
  • Direct MCOLES to develop a second, advanced standard for active violence response training into the curriculum for certified police officers
  • Incorporate best practices to improve local and state cooperation during incident response

Recovery

  • Work with local and state health agencies to ensure they are prepared to provide emergency counseling services to all those affected in an active violence situation
  • Provide guidance on training for teachers, parents, and administrators to identify when students and others might need help accessing resources after an event has occurred
  • Ensure the recovery component of school safety plans are robust in both the planning guidance and audit review process

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