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Posted: 05/15/13

RCS continues to beef
up security measures

Observer Staff Writer
      Romeo Community Schools is pulling no punches to ensure its students will be safe in emergency situations.
       The shooting that took place last December in Newtown, Connecticut resulted in 28 deaths, including 20 Sandy Hook Elementary students, spurred school districts to re-evaluate their safety and security to make sure a similar tragedy doesn't happen again.
       The latest endeavor by Romeo schools was to have Trooper Walter Crider from the Michigan State Police do a walk-through of the district's buildings on May 7. Students huddled with their heads down, doors were locked and lights shut off for lockdown drills while Crider noted the pros and cons of each building.
       Natalie Davis, Romeo Engineering and Technology assistant principal, toured the buildings with Crider. She said he received training from the Department of Homeland Security and used his newfound knowledge for the first time with Romeo.
       "It was the first time for someone who was trained by Homeland Security to come through our buildings, to me that is really exciting," Davis said. "Overall he seemed to think what we're doing is good, but had some good ideas with little things we can do differently here and there."
       Assistant Superintendent Eric Whitney, a member of the district's crisis team, said Crider will return to work with each building separately to improve safety.
       "We've had our plans developed with the emergency response plans with the county," he said. "To be able to get the state police to help us out with that we thought was a good idea."
       Superintendent Nancy Campbell said the district is meeting with Peter Locke, a Macomb County emergency management school liaison, to make certain the district is matching up its plans with the county. She said having the same plan allows for third-party employees, such as substitute teachers, to know procedures regardless of where they're working.
       "It is systematic protocol for all 21 districts, private schools in Macomb County with all the police enforcement," she said on May 6. "Ninety to 95 percent of what we're doing already mirrors the county plan."
       In the meantime, the district's ad hoc safety and security committee is reviewing improvements, including procedural changes and installing buzz-in doors for each facility. Board of Education Trustee Chris Young said the committee is gaining feedback from professionals on the equipment before bringing it to the full board.
       On-going discussions
       The Board of Education discussed changing its ad hoc safety committee to meet on a more regular basis at its May 6 meeting.
       Young, the chairperson of the committee, said he wanted to change the group to become a subcommittee that meets regularly. He said the change would allow for it to work on obtaining equipment as well as examining plans on an ongoing basis.
       "With the events of Sandy Hook and other events that have happened recently it has sparked interest, but with security it's always going to be at the back of my mind," he said.
       He said the subcommittee will work with county and other officials to examine district policies. The ad hoc committee is made up of Young and Trustees Gus Demas and Chris Giancarli.
       Demas supported the action, saying given the events taking place, changing to a subcommittee format would be better for making recommendations to the board.
       "It sends, I think, the important message to the community that this is a very serious issue that needs to be continuously addressed," he said.
       To become a subcommittee, the district will need to change its policies. The policy committee meets at the end of every month, and a recommendation from the committee will need to be approved by the full board.

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Retrieved 8/4/2015 at 1:51:43 PM.
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