MCPS updates security, forms partnership with MoCo Police, local government

Preston Phillips, Staff Writer

MCPS has recently sent out a school safety update. Consisting of the security infrastructure for schools in MCPS, background checks, the Maryland Safe to Learn Act and details on the partnership between The Department of School Safety and Security (DSSS) and the Montgomery County Police.

In MCPS, infrastructure plays a big role in the safety of students and staff. MCPS has 173 schools that currently have active security vestibules or a secure entrance hall. Eight of these vestibules have recently been installed. All secondary schools have a full installation of security cameras in the interior and the exterior of the buildings. MCPS is also planning to upgrade to digital two-way radios to allow communication between schools.

MCPS has started to enhance their background checks when hiring new and returning employees. These extensive background checks include a background review by child protective services; fingerprinting, which is sent to the Maryland and FBI criminal databases for review; and as part of the application process employees have to disclose any past criminal conduct.

Signed by the governor in April 2018, the Maryland Safe to Learn Act significantly increases supervision of school safety and security. This act requires updated safety plans for each school, stronger protocols and training for emergency situations. A Safe Schools Fund grant was created by the Maryland Safe to Learn Act and MCPS received a grant of over $1 million,

Also mentioned in the school safety update, Maryland has a Safe Schools Maryland hotline used to anonymously report known or suspected threats and danger to MCPS students, staff and, or schools for investigation by the authorities. The Safe Schools Maryland Hotline is (833-632-7233).

School safety also includes weather-related problems. This past winter, MCPS has had several school closings and delays due to major snow and ice. MCPS gathers inclement weather data from sources such as The National Weather Service, Accu Weather, and by physical inspection of roads, school driveways, and sidewalks throughout the county. Inclement weather conditions are also gathered in counties surrounding MCPS and factored into the decision for a two hour-delay or school closing. The most severe weather conditions in the county are used for the basis of the decision making.

For a delayed opening, and closed schools day, road inspection would start at 3 a.m, in order for a final decision to be made by 5 a.m. Early dismissal announcements are made by 11 a.m. Some students do not agree with the time decisions are made, Freshman Josh Euler said, “I think this system is somewhat effective, but the decisions should be announced earlier.”

With MCPS is upgrading their security protocols and training, to secure student and staff safety.