OKEMOS, Mich. (WLNS) — Jason Russell is a former Secret Service agent and the founder of Secure Education Consultants.
It’s an experience he’s now using in more than 200 school districts across the state.
Rusell’s mission is simple.
“To make the kids feel safer to make families feel that they are sending their kids into a safe environment,” said Russell.
That starts by going school by school to examine, evaluate and create a plan for a safer building.
“An in-depth look at everything that touches safety and security,” said Russell. “It’s physical security but it’s also processes, procedures, looking at their security if they have school resource officers, talking to other officers to see if there is room for improvement, and gaps or weaknesses or anything we can recommend that will make the kids and the schools feel safer.”
Here in mid-Michigan, school districts like Okemos said it’s an effort that’s helped them be both proactive and better prepared.
“The comprehension nature of the approach, looking at every building, the specialties in our buildings, looking at policies, practices and procedures and how we would react should there be an incident in the schools,” said Okemos Public Schools Superintendent John Hood. “You know do we have clear procedures, what training does staff need.”
The district says their assessment from Russell and his team was positive.
“He reassured us that a lot of what we are doing is good that is best practiced but then added some layers of monitoring that we can do in terms of student email,” said Hood.
Russell said keeping an eye on social media is imperative.
“We have an analyst that works for us that’s from the Secret Service that actually can help monitor their social media, look for any additional threats, look for any concerns,” continued Russell.
Other school districts like Mason say this is necessary.
“It’s critical that we have funding so that we can bring in experts because we are educators, and we don’t have the level of expertise that Jason and others like him have,” said Superintendent for Mason Public Schools Dr. Gary Kinzer.
Russell was also appointed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer to the School Mental Health and Safety Commission.
“We continue to work on these issues in Lansing to make sure that school safety is staying on the forefront, mental health for kids is staying on the forefront.”
Russell hopes that state funding will allow every school in the state to receive an assessment.