Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Parent Meetings Questions and Responses
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Parent meetings were held at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on January 31, 2019, and February 4, 5 and 11, 2019. The summary provided for the first parent meeting on January 31, is based on notes taken by District staff. The remaining three meetings were transcribed by a court reporter.
1. What Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) will be provided and how will it be implemented at elementary, middle and high schools?
Mental health and SEL have been a major priority for the School Board. In March 2017, before the
MajoryStoneman Douglas (MSD) tragedy, the District had a workshop on how to expand services and make SEL more of a focus. On February 15th, the day after the tragedy, five locations were opened to support MSD, four were opened for MSD students and one for employees. The Broward County Resiliency Center was opened to provide family counseling and support. The National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement was contacted to assist the District and has been here since February of 2018 giving consultation. In the fall, services were extended to all schools in MSD zone. Four additional social workers were hired full time. Eight additional guidance counselors were proivdedto assist with 504B accountability and personalizing services at the schools in the Zone. The District also added four additional school psychologists, one specifically assigned full time to MSD and three for surrounding schools. These psychologists were added to support mental health services as well as social services. An additional school social worker and family therapist was added to West Glades Middle School. In addition, another social worker was added to Coral Springs Middle and Coral Springs High School as well as an additional family therapist. The District Employee Assistance Program has also added counselors to support the inpactedschools as well as the entire employee group that needs support stemming form the tragedy.
Therapy dogs provided a welcomed support structure immediately after the tragedy and continue to be a part of the daily emotional support to the students and staff at
MajoryStoneman Douglas. During the winter/spring semester, therapy dogs are being increased. Through the state allocationan additional 60 additional clinicians will be added to the mental health as well as social/emotional support across the district .Funding through grants continues to be pursued to continue to build additional support structures within the impacted schools as well as across the District . .The recently Board approved and supported Referendum that passed iinNovember of 2018 will provide additional support 12 million for extra SEL services beginning July 2019 and provide for support for four years, the term of the referendum.
2. Will there be a task force in place to identify individuals that need assistance with threats and get services at school and at home?
Staff at the school participate in the Collaborative Problem Solving Team (CPST) process to work with indiviudals that are experinecing challenges in the school setting. This team looks at student history and finds intervention and supports to address areas of concern. These students can be recommended from district staff or from the home. The CPST can also make a recommendation to the Behavior Support Team asking for additional support from school and district behavior specialists when appropriate. The Behavior Support Team review the work from CPST and they can determine if the child will be better served in another setting. CPST at school and district level may have students go through the process for both behavior and academic challenges.
Threat assessments are a very different process. A threat assessment process is a higher level of support. A threat assessment is a systematic process that is designed to identify situations/persons of concern, investigate and gather information, and assess and manage the situation in order to mitigate risk. Each school is required to maintain an active threat assessment team; which includes persons with expertise in counseling, instruction, school administration, principal, when available, and law enforcement. Persons with expertise in counseling include school counselors, school psychologists, school social workers, and family counselors. Additional personnel with knowledge of the child or circumstances may also serve as members of the team. Each threat assessment team must respond, within 24 hours when school is in session, to any report of a threat or any patterns of behavior that may pose a threat to self or others. If school is not in session, the school principal must immediately refer the matter to law enforcement for evaluation, and the threat assessment team must meet no later than the end of the first day school is back in session to consider the matter and ensure it is resolved. The Threat Assessment Process includes annual training requirements, mandates the principal sign/acknowledge that the threat assessment documentation is complete and provide all such documentation to the principal’s immediate supervisor for review. On February 20, 2019, the School authorized an investment of $606,000 to implement an electronic threat assessment module. The EdPlan Student Threat Assessment (STA) module is based on guidelines recommended by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services and adheres to the process recommended by the United States Secret Service and the United States Department of Education’s study for identifying, assessing and managing students who may pose a threat. The STA module will allow the District to: document a student threat incident and follow immediate and critical protocol for imminent risks, gather, share and consider data from various data sources to make informed decisions, and review key questions for assigning risk level and determining next steps for intervention.
3. How is the District working with agencies such as Department of Children and Families, Broward Sheriff's Office? How is it being shared?
In June 2018, the governor signed a letter that more collaboration had to be done between agencies as well as signed the MSD Act. The executive order required each county to have a community action team. The District is a member of this team. This team reviews young people that are at risk and or have been identified by law enforcement as at risk. This team collaborates to find/identify services from each organization in how the young adult will be handled depending on each factor. This team meest quarterly. Prior to the Governor's order, Broward County had already convened a team approach to meeting community and young adult needs through meetings including SEDNET, a multi-agency network. For student with emotional or behavioral challenges, the community group Coordinated Group of Broward County, led by Ann Richards, is also addressing needs.
Another group, Children’s Services Council also brings organizations together to provide a collaorative approach to meeting your adult needs. In addition, the District’s continued collaboration with law enforcement is the recent agreement between the District and the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) providing BSO with remote access to the District’s video surveillance camera feed. BSO is now able to access live video of the District’s entire surveillance camera inventory (more than 10,000 cameras) at all schools. A link to the approved agreement is outlined below.
The District will now work with other local law enforcement agencies to approve similar agreements for schools within their respective jurisdictions.
It is important to note this capability was not even possible until the start of the 2018-2019 school year when the District completed its upgrade of all video surveillance camera systems at schools.
Superintendent Runcie has recently met with Coral Springs law enforcement and will be meeting with other municipalities. He also meets regularily with the new BSO Sheriff Gregory Tony as we look at District policies.
4. Will the PROMISE program be changed to limit the number of resets?
Annual reset and referrals to PROMISE have been changed. It is now required that any child who gets a second misdemeanor offense be referred to law enforcement. Zero tolerance has certain offenses that go to law enforcement through the school-based Threat Assessment Committee. Training has been brought in to assist administrators enforcing the Student Code of Conduct.
5. What is the code red policy?
BCPS has emergency protocols that have been established to inform responses to an emergency. The protocol includes seven distinct color codes that are utilized to designate a particular type of emergency situation, and more importantly elicit designated actions from staff and students in response to the emergency. This protocol has been in place within the District for many years and training is delivered annually to all schools by the District’s Special Investigative Unit. A Code Red designates a threat to the facility; and when called initiates a lockdown of the facility and signals staff and students to take actions in an effort to promote their safety.
The Code Red protocol is the District’s response to an active assailant on campus and other threats that present a risk to the occupants of a school. It is not uncommon for schools to be placed on one of the emergency codes because of a medical emergency on campus, a reported bomb threat, or police activity in the area of a school. Thankfully, the vast majority of these situations are precautionary and the threat is determined to be unfounded.
Beginning this school year, the District conducts code red drills monthly at schools to comply with the new Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act. This legislation requires schools to conduct active assailant drills with the frequency of other emergency drills. Recognizing the national fire code requires monthly fire drills, this is what has set the standard for the code red drills to be conducted monthly. To date, schools have conducted more than 1500 code red drills.
Relative to a formal policy, the School Board has initiated its formal Rule Development Process to establish a policy on emergency codes; and the policy was formally adopted/approved on February 20, 2019.
The challenge to establishing a formal, public-facing policy is outlining sufficient information to create an awareness of the protocol, without outlining the specific actions/responses within the policy. Because the policy will be public-facing the District wants to be sure it doesn’t share the District’s security response protocols with a potential assailant.
6. What is the District’s position on metal detectors in high school?
The District had intended to conduct a pilot at the beginning of the school year and implement entry point metal detection at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. However, after considerable counsel from the District’s independent security consultant, Safe Havens International, it was not recommended. This recommendation is predicated on three primary reasons.
The complexities associated with effectively implementing entry point metal detections in a school environment; which includes the number of access points to a campus (particularly a large high school), the timelines associated with processing individuals, and the number of times students have legitimate objects that would set-off the metal detectors would require scanning equipment and staffing requirements associated with conducting secondary searches; Entry point metal detection is heavily reliant on people, and as a result, can be easily defeated. Safe Havens routinely conducts penetration testing for clients and has advised of the high failure rates; and Because of the first two reason, entry point metal detection does not represent a viable, cost-effective security measure for the District.
Instead, Safe Havens has recommended the District invest in other safety and security priorities that would be more effective and represent a better return on the investment. This year, the School Board has approved $31 million in the four priorities recommended by Safe Havens; Expansion of the District’s video surveillance camera system to include the installation of analytic cameras at every school, with enhancement to the centralized monitoring functions; Upgrade of the intercom systems at high schools to a digital platform and integration into the video surveillance system; Transition of the District’s bus fleet off of the emergency radio system to the county’s new public works radio system, and the purchase of additional portable radios and repeaters to improve the schools’ radio network; and The establishment of new division headed by a Chief Safety, Security, and Emergency Preparedness Officer with supporting resources to align the district’s safety and security functions and implement an Enterprise Risk Management Framework in the District. These investments represent nearly four times the funding that was provided to the District through the new Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act to implement physical security enhancements.
Pursuant to comments and concerns, the District indicated its willingness to work its independent security consultant to explore the use of metal detection technology in potentially a random fashion at varying schools as a deterrent to students who may bring weapons on campus.
7. Will the District arm teachers?
Superintendent Runcie: The School Board has no intention to arm teachers. Those resources should be in training law enforcement.
8. Superintendent Runcie, do you feel like you should step down?
Superintendent Runcie: I was hired to lead Broward County Public Schools and that is what I intend to do. My goal is to make our schools the safest in Florida. Since February 14th, I’ve had continuous meetings at the school with different groups (over 30 meetings) including faculty meetings, parent groups, student groups, 2 town halls on safety, one on the PROMISE program. We’ve continued to meet to address the needs of families on multiple levels. My focus is to continue to do that. We’re going to work to move this community forward. Throughout Broward County, we’ve established a good track record for the last several years on the progress we’ve made. This is a challenging situation for us that none of us were prepared for and will continue to do the best we can every day.
9. Why is Principal Thompson still here?
The District must use due process with all employees. In some cases this will include an investigative process. The District continues to work through findings and determine which employees may need to be included in the investigation process.
10. What is the directive given to principals who should perform threat assessments?
The threat assessment process reflect what the MSD Safety Commission has recommended. The District has a robust threat assessment policy and procedures. The problem has been that the procedures are not always properly followed at all schools. Principals are required to review and sign off on them. The Office of School Accountability and Perfomrance also reviews and sign off on them. Those are changes that were put in after February 14th. The District started a policy review process and has recently approved an updated Threat Assessment Policy and has recommitted all administrators both school based and district b ased to be retrained in these important proceedures.
11. Are the windows bulletproof? Any plans to change the portables?
Question continued - The students have to go to the floor and nothing to protect them.
Superintendent Runcie: No, windows are not bullet resistant. The portables were put in after conversations with faculty and teachers from the 1200 building who wanted a fixed location to teach their classes. We expedited the process of getting portable classrooms put in place. They are not a permanent long-term solution. It is temporary until we have completed construction of a new replacement building.
Ms. May: The new building to replace the 1200 building is in design right now and we are planning construction later this summer to be completed prior to next (2020) school year. If we have an emergency, these portables are much stronger than wood portables.
12. Where’s Mr. Thompson? What has been done in addition to adding security officers?
Dr. Wanza: Mr. Thompson is with students who are traveling to get an award. Mr. Thompson will be at the remaining three meetings.
Mr. Moquin: Staff shared the additional security enhancements that have been implemented at MSD since the tragedy. These enhancements included:
- Increased the number of School Resource Officers (SROs) on campus from 1 to 3
- Increased the number of security specialist and campus monitor positions
- Modified the classroom door hardware to ensure classroom doors are always locked from the outside of the
room,while continuing to provide egress from inside the classroom
- Installed additional fencing on campus to create a second perimeter
- Installed access card readers for employee entrances
- Installed an electronic buzzer at the visitor entrance to allow staff to “clear” visitors before providing access