FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 22, 2018
Safer Schools. Safer Students.
Law enforcement, school officials unveil legislative proposal to prevent violence in Michigan schools
The Michigan School Safety Reform Plan is based on clear, actionable strategies that are both effective and immediately achievable.
“School shootings and bomb threats dominate the headlines. Violence is followed by mourning, outrage, and calls for reform – before the cycle repeats itself, without any meaningful change,” said Ingham County Sheriff Scott Wrigglesworth. “Michigan law enforcement and Michigan school leaders agree – enough is enough. It’s time for change.”
The plan calls for a new $100 million grant program for personnel, a $20 million grant program for safety infrastructure, and other reforms, including:
- More school resource officers—sheriffs and police—working in school facilities through a new state grant program;
- More school mental health professionals to identify problems early through the same new state grant program;
- Grants to ensure safer buildings for students and teachers; and
- Mandatory reporting of threats and graduated penalties to help prevent violence.
“Putting more sheriffs and police on school property and in school buildings will keep our children safe – and prevent tragedies before they happen,” said Michael Rochholz, President of the Michigan Association of School Boards. “We also need to increase the ratio of school mental health professionals to help assist with early intervention.”
Said Lansing Public Schools Superintendent Yvonne Caamal Canul: “We know many shooters often show signs of trouble, long before an attack— and school mental health professionals are the first line of defense.”
Currently, Michigan’s student to school counselor ratio is roughly 750 to 1. School social workers are at 1,000 to 1. School psychologists are roughly 4,800 to 1. All ratios are well below recommended levels.
“Once adequate personnel are in place, we also need to look at the school facilities themselves,” said St. Clair County Sheriff Tim Donnellon. “We believe it is important to have law enforcement walk through each building at least once a year, so we can identify safety risks and support schools in addressing security issues.”
The plan also calls for improved reporting of school safety threats.
“Our schools have experienced a significant increase in the number of school threats,” said Mark Reene, Tuscola County Prosecuting Attorney and Past President of the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan. “Prosecutors are committed to protecting students, teachers, administrators and the communities that support them. There are very serious consequences for making any type of threat. Whether it requires punitive sanctions or mental health services, this proposal will give the needed tools to help us all address these threats and help keep schools safe.”
The Michigan School Safety Reform Plan is backed by:
- Michigan Sheriffs Association
- Michigan Association of School Administrators
- Michigan Association of School Boards
- Michigan Association of School Psychologists
- Michigan Association of School Social Workers
- Michigan School Counselors Association
- Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police
- Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan