In the aftermath of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School tragedy in Parkland, Florida last month, officials at Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) are taking a comprehensive assessment of existing school security and safety protocols in an effort to improving safety.
One basic question
According to Miami-Dade County School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, the District is zeroed on one question: “How can we best protect our children?” He said, the result of the recent 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.”
Letter to Fl legislators
Resulting from this collaboration, M-CDPS Board Chair Perla Tabares Hantman, Superintendent Carvalho, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, County Commission Chairman Esteban L. Bovo, and State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle have authored a joint letter to Florida lawmakers seeking of long-term solutions to increase student safety.
Security measures requested
The request to lawmakers included an additional $30 million in state funding to support measures to strengthen school safety.
These measures include: one hundred additional school resource officers; seventy-five 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.
In addition, county officials are seeking legislators to provide funding for school-site infrastructure and inter-agency needs including: 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.
Steps to be implemented immediately
While the county officials await the reaction from the Florida Legislature, the M-DPCS will be immediately implementing new security and safety measures.
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 Miami-Dade 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.
In addition, all available law enforcement and mental health resources are being redeployed to school sites. School security personnel, without exception, will be required to wear identifiable uniforms to increase visibility on campus.
Easing parents’ concerns
Addressing parents concern about school safety, 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.
Superintendent Carvalho said, “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.”
He also stated that 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.