2018-03-08 / Community

MAS News

Maryann Boddy

We all watched in disbelief on Feb. 14, as news broke about the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. By the time the horrific event was over, 17 people were killed and 14 more were taken to hospitals, making it one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history.

At some point in the following days we all had that nagging question in the back of our minds, “Are our schools safe?”

On March 1, Manistique Area Schools administration took part in a video conference hosted by the Michigan Association of School Administrators and Thrun Law Firm to learn more about school threats and safety.

The information gleaned from this video conference was deemed so valuable that the video conference will be shared in its entirety with all Manistique Area School employees during the March 7 professional development in-service.

On March 5, fifteen members of the community sat down to discuss school safety.

Those involved in the discussion included school representatives: (Don Erickson, St. Francis de Sales principal; John Shiner, Manistique Middle/ High School principal; Maryann Boddy, Emerald Elementary principal/MAS superintendent) law enforcement (MPS Director Ken Golat, Schoolcraft County Sheriff Paul Furman, Deputy Diana Herlik and Under Sheriff Darrell Dixson) Governmental officials (Paul Walker, Manistique City Council; Mike Perilloux, Manistique Mayor; Nick Emendorfer, Representative for Senator Jack Bergman; Jake Putala, Representative for Attorney General Bill Schuette, and Robert Berbohm, Emergency Management Coordinator) and judicial representation (Tim Noble, Prosecuting Attorney; and from 93rd District Court Jim Sanford and Greg Schultz).

The hour-long conversation hit on many topics but one in particular that was supported by many of those in attendance was the addition of a school liaison officer at Manistique Area Schools.

This position would come at a cost of about $89,000 and discussion on potential funding sources will continue between MAS, local law enforcement agencies and the City of Manistique.

Manistique Area Schools is vigilant in educating and training our students and adults in emergency response to many types of events including fires, tornadoes, violent and nonviolent threats.

All schools in Michigan are required by law to hold a minimum of 10 emergency drills annually that include at least five fire drills, three lockdown drills and two tornado drills. We are continually evaluating our procedures and making improvements as needed.

As reported by Robert Berbohm, Emergency Management Coordinator for Delta and Schoolcraft Counties, MAS has an emergency response plan that is up to date and meets all state requirements.

During the meeting Jake Putala provided information on the OK2SAY program. OK2SAY is a confidential way for students to report anything that threatens their safety or the safety of others. Reports can be made by call, text or email.

As reported by MLive, in the 12 days between the Parkland, Fla., shooting and Feb. 25, OK2SAY has received 94 calls, texts or emails about possible school attacks, according to Andrea Bitely, spokeswoman for Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette.

That compares to four tips about potential school attacks received by OK2SAY during that 12-day stretch last year and 49 such tips for all of 2017, Bitely said.

That is extremely encouraging because throughout all of the conversation and information sharing during the school safety meeting, one thing was constant: the need for open communication. Students or parents who have concerns about school safety or possible threats are encouraged to share those concerns with OK2SAY, school administration or law enforcement.

Working together, listening, talking and communicating is our best strategy in keeping our schools and our students safe

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