With everything going on in the world today we spoke with parents to find out what their concerns are with their children’s safety when they’re not there to protect them.
“I have big concerns about safety everywhere but school is one of the places,” parent Ian Redmond said.
“More policing inside of our schools and outside of our schools because there are people that try to get inside of the school that don’t belong in here,” parent Sean Tyus said.
“Being a parent, you’re always going to be nervous about your children,” Tyus said.
Tyus and his wife have six children, ages 3-14. He lives within walking distance from his childrens’ school, Nolan Elementary. It’s a neighborhood he describes as dangerous.
“In my neighborhood what I’m greatly concerned about is gunfire in the neighborhood, just random gunfire, murders and kidnapping,” he said. “As a safety precaution anytime there is gunfire that goes off, especially if it’s close my kids know exactly what to do.”
“What do they do?” Local 4′s Evrod Cassimy asked.
“Lay down on the floor,” he replied. “They lay down on the floor where they’re at and they stay there for approximately three minutes.”
“Is that normal?” Cassimy asked.
“It’s not normal,” Tyus said.
Tyus knows he can protect his children from gunfire at home, but what about at school?
“Basically what are the plans?” Tyus said. “Do we have an escape route if somebody does come inside of the school like that?”
Like Tyus, Ian Redmond had similar concerns about school safety for his two children. He believes school safety starts with the parent.
“Do you have locked entrances?” Redmond said. “And how do people gain access to those entrances? What if any training do the teachers have?”
“If they don’t feel that the school is doing the right job they should pull their children out of that school,” he said.
We took these parents’ safety questions to the superintendents of Troy School District and Detroit Public Schools Community District. Each laid out their school safety plans.
“Making sure that we have secure entrances at all of our buildings, that you can’t just walk into a building. You have to be buzzed in,” Dr. Rich Machesky, the superintendent of Troy School District, said. “Investing in video cameras across our buildings.”
And each classroom has what are called Nightlock devices.
“That is a device that was available in Oxford and the reports from Oxford were that that worked,” he said.
“We see some schools that have metal detectors, some schools that don’t. As superintendent, how do you make that determination?” Cassimy asked.
“I wanna invest our resources in what I know and what our police officers and our local experts tell us is the most impactful and we know what is most impactful is not necessarily over hardening all our facilities, it’s really about making sure we’re investing in the people,” Machesky said.
That includes hiring more counselors and social workers. Machesky is also a part of a crisis committee working directly with the Troy Police Department. The district has admins who have completed a two-day Alice certification training to keep buildings and classrooms safe in the event of an emergency.
“I understand why school communities invest in metal detectors,” Machesky said. “We have none here in the Troy School District.”
But within DPSCD, Dr. Nikolai Vitti explains that 80% of the district’s schools have metal detectors.
“Historically DPS, now DPSCD schools have had metal detectors so metal detectors isn’t new to the landscape of our schools,” Vitti said. “The metal detectors that were in schools, we kept them there unless families, through the principal, said we don’t want metal detectors any longer because we feel it creates a prison type of environment.”
But security within DPSCD schools doesn’t stop there.
“All of our neighborhood high schools and the large exam schools like Cass, King and Renaissance will have an officer assigned to those schools. All of our schools, even small elementary have a security guard or a greeter. All of our elementary and K-8s have a buzzed entry system from where the person inside, whether they be at the front desk or the office will see the person trying to get in the building.”
Still with preventative measures in place, like Machesky, Vitti believes knowing the students is the first line of defense in keeping all students safe.
“The best metal detector in my mind if you will is relationships with students,” he said. “I think if, metal detector or no metal detector, students know what’s going on. They know through their peers who they alienated, who’s angry, and who might have access to a weapon in their home and I think our students have really stepped up over the last couple of years in reporting incidents that someone may have a weapon in the school, that someone made a threat.”
Because of that, combined with at-home street smarts, Tyus is confident his kids are safe at home and at school.
“In this school, I believe they are safe,” Tyus said. “They do a good job at that with everything going on I do believe the police are doing everything they can.”
Vitti believes it’s important parents monitor their children’s social media in an effort to keep them and others safe. He also added that they are looking into the Nightlock classroom locks as they work towards modernizing their classrooms.