Security a priority for local schools

Escanaba Daily Press photo Students play on the front lawn of the Escanaba Upper Elementary School as part of their end of the school year celebration. Local school districts have taken several steps to provide increased safety and preventative measures of their campuses in light of recent events.

ESCANABA — In light of the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Texas, which claimed the lives of 19 students and two teachers, conversations regarding the safety and security of K-12 schools across America have once again erupted.

Educators, policy makers, and local citizens have expressed their concerns about the safety of children who are trying to acquire an education, providing solutions ranging from increased security personnel on school grounds to universal background checks for potential gun owners. Local school districts have been considering their options as well.

“We have been having regular meetings regarding school safety every year for the past several years,” Doug Leisenring, Delta-Schoolcraft Intermediate School District superintendent, said. “It is recommended that we have an annual school safety meeting with law enforcement and folks from the courts, and we have monthly superintendent round table meetings and it is basically on the agenda every month.”

According to the Center for Homeland Defense and Security, there have been over 2,000 school shootings since 1970, over 950 of which have occurred since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012.

Considering this information, school districts already have a number of precautionary and safety measures in place for students, faculty, and staff in the case of an active shooter situation. In a joint report by agencies within the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education, security camera use has increased by 62% from 2000-2016. Additionally, 94% of public schools have controlled access and secure locking systems on their buildings as of 2016, a 19% increase from 2000.

“When it comes to safety, we try to take a comprehensive holistic approach that really focuses on three specific areas, identification and prevention, or being proactive, hardening our campuses so that physically we are as safe as we can possibly be, and then just practice and evaluation,” Coby Fletcher, Escanaba Area Schools superintendent, said. “Those are three things that we engage in on a regular basis.”

Supporting students is the top priority of local school districts, with administrators stressing the importance of accessible mental health resources and reliable support systems for all students. The DSISD will be hiring five additional social workers to its staff in the next year, making 11 workers spread out over the various DSISD locations.


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