MASON, Mich. (WLNS) – For kids to learn and teachers to teach, they need to feel safe.
That’s why one group is using its unique background to make sure Michigan schools are protected. The group is called Secure Education Consultants. It’s made up of former police officers and even Secret Service agents. I
Its mission is simple. Go school by school to examine, evaluate and create a plan to strengthen school safety.
“I think parents have a right to understand that my school is prepared, they’ve taken relevant steps,” said the company’s founder, Jason Russell.
Russell is first and foremost a father of three, but he’s also a former Lansing police officer and Secret Service agent. It’s an experience he’s now using in more than a hundred school districts across the state.
“We go into a school district and look at everything that touches safety and security so we look at the physical security we look at their policies we look at their procedures, their equipment, their training, their SRO their school resource officers and any security that he has in place,” he said.
Russell says they are not only looking at the school’s structure but also providing training in prevention and in how schools respond. One of the most common themes he sees needing improvement is alert systems.
“The ability for schools to be able to tell other people within the environment that there is an emergency. So we are kind of getting technology that now is helping with that but in a lot of ways that’s still a fairly significant weakness,” said Russell.
School districts like Mason say it’s using the $2,000 in state school safety funding to have an assessment done by Russell. Officials say they’ll take that information to work to address any needs that come up.
“We are going to do what we can do to ensure that we have the best possible systems in place to support students,” said Superintendent of the Mason School district, Gary Kinzer. “I want to emphasize that that certainly pertains to physical security and safety but not just that but it also involves the social-emotional wellness of our students and staff.”
Russell says they are also putting a priority on monitoring social media, as well as creating a universal response language.
“Every school needs to have standard language for what they call protocols so that no matter where you are at you understand exactly what that particular response should be,” he said.
Anything they can do to check every safety box.
“That hopefully will give parents some confidence that the schools are able to take care of their kids and keep them safe.”
Russell also tells me that both the Lansing and Okemos school districts will have assessments done. There is hope more state funding will soon make this possible for every school across the state.