Montgomery County Board of Education student member proposed a resolution and several suggestions to improve school safety in the district.
Sami Saeed, a student member of the Montgomery County Board of Education senior at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, is pursuing a series of suggestions to improve school safety in the district. Saeed has introduced a “Safe Schools Resolution” for the entire Board’s consideration. The resolution reads:
A safe and secure learning environment is foundational to quality teaching and learning. Ensuring that our public schools and the students and staff they house are safe has become an increasingly complex endeavor. School systems across the nation have continued to grapple with security challenges, leading to calls for increased safety measures in schools. The rise in incidents has also caused many students to feel unsafe in school, harming their academic performance and their well- being. Therefore, it is imperative that we proactively maintain and expand upon our existing efforts to support a safe and secure learning environment.
Student perceptions of school safety
Saeed surveyed fellow Montgomery County Public School students’ perceptions of school safety. The survey garnered nearly 400 student responses, which he then used to inspire the resolution and its accompanying suggestions. The survey found that:
- 60% of students favored ID checking at high schools;
- 82% of students believe security guard training would be beneficial;
- 95% of students thought more efficient communication was needed;
- 72% of students thought additional security technology would be beneficial, and
- 68% of students believe a Student Safety Advisory Group would be beneficial.
Regarding student feelings around their safety at school:
- 5.4% “always” feel safe;
- 61% feel safe “most of the time”;
- 24% “sometimes” feel safe;
- 5.7% “rarely” feel safe; and
- 2.8% “never” feel safe.
Saeed’s survey also asked students if they think their peers feel safe in school. The results were as follows:
- 3.9% said “always”;
- 50% said “most of the time”;
- 40% said “sometimes”;
- 5.2% said “rarely,”; and
- 1.8% said “never.”
Suggestions to improve school safety
Informed by his own experiences and the responses from his peer survey, Saeed’s resolution outlines the following suggestions to improve school safety throughout the district:
- An expansion of the student ID pilot to include all high schools with an emphasis on avoiding significant entry delays.
- Increased trainings for students and security staff on current school safety procedures.
- A strategy to support school-based administrations in elevating the monitoring of restrooms and implementing appropriate response methods.
- Innovative approaches to addressing and reducing substance use in schools.
- The implementation of additional security technology in schools that supports the safety of students.
Additionally, the resolution seeks that the superintendent of Montgomery schools create a plan to enhance safety-related communication in schools that includes the following:
- A review and possible modifications to the current standard protocol for community & stakeholder messaging during school emergency situations/serious incidents.
- Increased awareness of anonymous student reporting channels for safety concerns/tips.
- A public awareness campaign to promote student safety practices in schools.
Additionally, it requests that the superintendent of schools solicit student input and feedback through forums such as a Student Safety Advisory Committee that emphasizes diverse student representation.
At the MACo Winter Conference general session, “Education Reform: The Blueprint for the Blueprint,” county and state leaders in education will examine Blueprint implementation, challenges that remain, and where Maryland is landing as it tries to reach the landmark law’s goals for public education. Speakers include representatives of key partnerships, county officials working closely “on the ground” to implement the education reform law and other leaders.
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