MCPS School Safety Public Service Announcement
Dear MCPS Community,
I am writing to update you on the measures we have taken to ensure the safety of our students and staff in our schools. As a follow-up to our community letter, we have been working diligently to implement concrete actions focusing on resources, expectations, and community engagement. These efforts include:
Community and Partner Engagement
Over the past few months, we have held three Fentanyl Forums. We also completed the first of two community listening sessions at the Upper County Community Recreation Center on March 1. We will be having another session in the Down County Consortium in the future. These sessions have been incredibly helpful in engaging with our community in direct two-way discussions and addressing safety concerns.
We have also created and held the first meeting of the Well-Being and School Safety Advisory Team, which is a collaborative group of MCPS staff, students, parents, county safety partners, and community group representatives. We will meet monthly and this team will provide input about district wide approaches to safety and security.
We continue to collaborate with our law enforcement agency partners. We have provided each of our Community Engagement Officers (CEO) and law enforcement colleagues with key fobs to their assigned schools. This will allow them to swiftly access the school during and outside of school hours as needed for emergencies.
Safety Focused Staff Development
We have held two of four scheduled staff engagement sessions to deepen understanding and address questions about safety and emergency preparedness.
We have standardized expectations for security assistants, which increase consistency and coverage throughout our schools and offices. We have established weekly meetings with school cluster security coordinators, security teams, and administrative staff for strategic and proactive collaboration and problem-solving. Moreover, we are assessing our school public address systems throughout the district to ensure they all function correctly.
Improved Hate Bias Reporting Process
We have thoroughly reviewed and revamped the serious incident reporting process for race and hate bias incidents, including a separate form and a mandatory parent conference for an identified offender prior to returning to school. These improvements will ensure that we address these incidents thoroughly and with the appropriate response.
Emergency Preparedness Activities
This school year, all schools have completed at least one emergency drill. This spring, schools will be required to hold refresher drills on emergency preparedness, including Parent-Child Reunification (PCR) drills. All students have been reintroduced to the emergency drill process to prepare them for an emergency. Students will frequently be reminded about safety precautions through school announcements and videos. Additionally, we have completed one of three phases of camera installations at the elementary level to enhance our surveillance system, phase 2 will be completed by May, and all installations by the end of the year.
Increased Security Staffing
We have allocated a 1.0 permanent substitute to all high schools to address increased staff absences. We have also deployed security substitutes to schools with higher security absences and more significant security needs. At the elementary level, in addition to the cluster assigned Community Engagement Officers (CEOs), MCPS security assistant rovers are available to support as needed when safety incidents arise. We have requested 10.0 additional security assistants in the FY2024 budget and are reviewing the process to allocate security staff within our schools.
School Restrooms Update
We have continued the installation of hardware to keep bathroom doors open at the secondary level and implemented districtwide protocols for monitoring bathrooms.
Safety and Security Pilot Initiatives
MCPS will pilot two new safety initiatives in a select number of high schools in the coming weeks.
Vape Detectors: Vape detectors are in the process of being installed in the bathrooms of a limited number of high school schools. These detectors will help to identify any instances of vaping or smoking in the bathrooms, allowing us to take appropriate action to prevent harm to our students' health and safety.
Student Badges: The second program involves high school students wearing badges as a way to identify themselves on campus. This will help our staff and security personnel to quickly recognize students who belong on campus and identify any individuals who do not.
Please have discussions with your child and remind them of their role in keeping schools safe and that violations of these expectations can result in disciplinary action.
Drugs have no place in our schools and their presence can lead to negative consequences. It not only harms the health of the person using it but also affects the safety and well-being of everyone in the school community. Drugs and alcohol should never be used or brought on school property.
We cannot stress enough how important it is to keep weapons and violence out of our schools. It is critical that we ensure that our school environment remains safe and secure for everyone. We should not tolerate any kind of violent behavior, threats, or actions that could harm others.
Trespassing on other school grounds is not allowed. We must keep our school doors secure and not let students from other schools inside the building. We must be vigilant and keep an eye out for people who may be trying to enter the school premises without permission. This is an essential measure to keep our schools safe and secure.
We want to thank our families and community members for their support and engagement in this process. We will continue to communicate as we enhance our safety and security procedures. It is our shared responsibility to keep our schools safe. “All Together Now” is our commitment and will continue to work diligently to ensure our students' and staff's safety and well-being. Our Schools, Our Students, Our Responsibility.
M. Brian Hull
Chief Operating Officer
Montgomery County Public Schools
Email us: ASKMCPS@mcpsmd.org