Well, we are just days away from the election, and I thought I was all done blogging about myself. I have already covered why I love this community, what my priorities are, why I am running, and what I bring to the table. However, over the last two weeks I have realized that there is one more issue I can and must address, given my 22 years of law enforcement experience.
School is a place where our students and their teachers should feel safe. It should be a place free of distractions and disruptions where teachers and students can focus on what’s important without worrying about interruptions and potential violence. Unfortunately, this is not the case for many in our schools. Students and teachers are in fear of what the next threat may be and whether “it could ever happen here”. The recent threats in our high schools highlight this. The constant disruption has impacts on the learning and mental health of our children. Working in an environment where there are threats or the fear of violence has a negative impact on teacher retention. We can’t ask the brightest and best minds out there to teach our children if they don’t feel safe.
In South Lyon, fear may not be the only (or even the biggest) emotion related to safety. Many are angry. Angry that someone would make a threat simply to cancel school. Angry that their education, plans, and events are in the midst of constant upheaval. Angry that this has become the new way of life as we seem to know it. In addition to students and teachers, parents, administrators, and those throughout the community share this frustration.
To address the issues of school safety, as well as threats (real or hoax), our district must rely on two main ideas: strong relationships with local law enforcement and quality communication. SLCS schools are spread among multiple municipalities in three counties. This means the district must work to develop partnerships with multiple agencies to ensure that our schools are safe and secure, but not operated like detention facilities. The district needs to be able to clearly communicate plans and actions before, during, and after an event. In my career, I have seen the benefits of healthy relationships between schools and law enforcement. Unfortunately, I have also seen what happens when those relationships or clear communication are not present. I would hate to see that happen in our community.
So what does a board member do about this? With my law enforcement knowledge and experience in community policing, I will work to continue building strong bonds between our district and the agencies responsible for protecting our children and staff. There is a solid foundation in place and I will ensure that it is allowed to flourish and grow, improving where necessary, and serving as an example to other districts. I will also insist that our administrators are constantly working to update, improve, and test our action plans in the event of emergencies and threats. These plans must also include clear communication strategies so that staff, students, and parents are apprised of appropriate and timely information. As tragic as events around the country (and in our own backyard) have been, we can learn from each of them to continue making our schools as safe as they can be.
Our children go to school in different times than many of us did years ago. Things are scarier and less certain. They need responsible adults who will make the right plans and decisions to keep them safe. Our teachers and staff have to deal with so much more than they probably should in order to create a safe and productive learning environment. They need district leaders who will work with the right professionals to ensure they are safe when they come to work. As someone who has worked in law enforcement for over 20 years, I think I have what it takes. I look forward to using what I have experienced and learned to make SLCS not only a leading district in this state, but also a safe one. I hope you will vote for me on November 8th - or any time before then if you vote absentee - and share my name with friends and neighbors.
Need info on all the candidates?
Visit vote411.org, input your address, and see what all the candidates for SLCS School Board stand for. There are two different races this November. One is a six year term with four candidates running for two spots. That's Patrick's race! The other is a two year term with two candidates running for one spot.