MPS reviews school security after Texas shooting

MARSHALL — School security was a topic of discussion at Monday’s Marshall School Board meeting. With the recent mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, board members wanted to go over the existing safety measures at Marshall Public Schools.

“A lot of questions get in my office, and I’m sure board members are getting questions too, about what does Marshall Public Schools have in place?” said Superintendent Jeremy Williams. “We’ve put a lot of work into place with this over the past few years, to make sure we have safe and secure buildings.”

“Nowadays, with 119 shootings at schools in the past three years? I mean, we’ve just gotta be careful,” Marshall School Board Chairman Jeff Chapman said.

MPS has been working to update security cameras and build secure entries at its school buildings, Williams said. In addition, the district has a full-time school resource officer, and school sites conduct safety training and drills with both staff and students on a regular basis.

Williams went over the different safety measures at Marshall schools in a little more detail on Monday. MPS school sites have bulletproof glass at each entryway, and outside doors are kept locked during the school day.

“The only access is through the main entrance, and people have to be buzzed in. Then once they come in, they have to check in with the receptionist,” he said. Visitors then have to scan their ID through a computerized system that does an instant background check, Williams said.

“We are an ALICE-trained district,” Williams said. ALICE, short for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate, is a set of emergency lockdown procedures for the schools, he said. “We complete annual safety training drills with staff and with students.”

Williams said Marshall schools also do lockdown drills five times a year. More recently, each school office was equipped with a lockdown button to secure the building. Blue lights outside school entrances alert staff outside that a building is in lockdown.

“We have the ‘Crisis Go’ app, it’s an instant crisis communication tool that we use,” Williams said. The app lets school staff send and receive emergency messages and alerts, as well as take count of students during a crisis.

“I would say certainly through COVID we’ve struggled with that one,” Williams said of using the app. “That kind of fell on the wayside, so it’s something we’ve been working on this spring, and we’ll continue training on that for this fall, to make sure this becomes a common practice.”

MPS has a crisis response team that meets every other month to plan for emergency response, and the district also works with the Marshall Police, Williams said. School resource officer Sarah VanLeeuwe is also onsite during every school day.

“The relationship with that team is a valuable piece of our security as well,” Williams said.

Chapman had some questions about current security procedures, especially at more open school campuses.

“Have we ever had an audit check to see, are they just buzzing people in? Are they following procedure?” Chapman said. “I worry about the high school because it’s a fluid campus.”

“Part of our drill procedure that we’ve done is checking that, as we go into different spaces,” Williams said. “I don’t know that we’ve ever done a blind check.”

“I think it would be a good idea,” Chapman said. “And do they ever check to make sure that our door locks lock?”

“I think as a district, as far as safety and security measures go, I think we are doing almost everything we can do,” said board member Aaron Ziemer. “That being said, I do think that as a much bigger conversation than this school board — as a state of Minnesota and a Department of Education level — I think we really need to have a serious conversation about helping our young people, helping our students address mental health concerns.”

“If you look at the underlying cause of all of these things that happened across the nation — all of them — it is students that are having trouble. People that are having trouble,” Ziemer said. “And that’s a question that I think as a society, and as a state, that we need to have a conversation about.”


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