Tuesday, February 19, 2019
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In Our Schools

Miami-Dade County Public Schools Committed to Safe Schools

In the wake of the unspeakable act of violence committed February 14, 2018, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, the School Board and the entire Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) family continue to offer support to the Broward community.  Members of the District’s Crisis Team, including psychologists, social workers, and family counselors, are providing additional support to Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) students, staff and families.

Immediately following this terrible incident, M-DCPS leaders began a comprehensive assessment of existing school security and safety protocols with the aim of identifying opportunities for improvement.  The process was driven by one question: “How can we best protect our children?” The result of the evaluation is a series of recommended enhancements to the district’s safety protocols, developed in collaboration with local and state agencies, to ensure that every Miami-Dade school is safe.

School Board Chair Perla Tabares Hantman, Schools Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho, Miami Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, County Commission Chairman Esteban L. Bovo, and State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle authored a joint letter to lawmakers in pursuit of long-term solutions to increase student safety. Requests included an additional $30 million in state funding needed to support the following enhancements expected to strengthen school safety:

  • 100 additional school resource officers;
  • 75 additional mental health/social work professionals to focus on prevention/early detection of youth needs, and four mental health counselor advocates dedicated to providing counseling services and addressing the unique and long-lasting impact and trauma of violent crime on our children;
  • School-site infrastructure and inter-agency needs such as:
    • Video surveillance and internet protocol monitoring systems for school sites;
    • Evaluation of classroom glass window panes against ballistics, along with the materials needed to implement recommendations;
    • Mechanisms to automatically lock all doors;
    • Digital floor plan and mapping system for countywide response;
    • Enhanced mass communication systems at schools that provide expanded access to school public address systems;
    • Early detection software, social media data-mining software, and enhanced connectivity technology to improve inter-agency information sharing; and
    • Cyber analyst and Assistant State Attorney positions to provide technical guidance in the collection and analysis of social media and other electronic evidence.

Additionally, beginning immediately, the following steps are being taken:

  • Teachers have been directed to lock their classrooms during the school day. Entrance after class period begins will require a key or knock for entrance.
  • Within the next few weeks, all secondary schools will implement mandatory school-issued ID use.
  • All schools are being evaluated to reduce points of entry on campus, and protocols related to drills and school lockdowns are under review.
  • All available law enforcement and mental health resources are being redeployed to school sites
  • New and absolute directives related to school security personnel performance have been issued, requiring all security personnel – without exception – to wear identifiable uniforms to increase visibility on campus.
  • Parent communication is being enhanced through the use of text messaging to provide information when a threat is received and notification once a threat has been cleared.

Parents, students and staff of M-DCPS should be aware that Miami-Dade Schools Police Department (M-DSPD) takes every threat made to schools seriously. M-DSPD thoroughly investigates each one to determine the validity of the threat and to identify the perpetrator.

As always, the safety and well-being of students and staff are priorities. Everyone is reminded to report any suspicious activity by calling 305-995-COPS (2677) or 305-471-TIPS (8477).  Remember, if you See Something, Say Something.

For the most up-to-date information, please download the Dadeschools mobile app on your iPhone or Android device.  Follow us on Twitter @mdcps and @miamisup and on Facebook at MiamiSchools and AlbertoCarvalho.

the authorTFVstaff