starts with kindergarteners teaching safety message
..."Nothing is 100 percent secure," said Ron Wiedbusch, Ypsilanti Public School District's Safe Schools Principal, who is speaking of situations like the one recently experienced in Red Lake, Minn. "Not churches, malls or anything.
certainly does start early, bringing a prevention message to kindergarteners that dangerous behavior or items need to be reported to adults."We tell them, 'You deserve to be safe.' It's their right."He
continues this message through every grade level in the district, holding between 80 and 100 assemblies per year.But, his
wide-ranging network, built up over the past 11 years to keep kids safe, encompasses much more than a message.It is in action every day.
"The bus drivers are key," Wiedbusch
works with many community agencies to coordinate efforts to keep the kids safe on their way to and from school, as well as during school hours.From his
mobile command center in a white van with bright red markings and flashing lights, Wiedbusch
is in constant contact with district officials and community agencies.A recent attempt to lure a child into a car was a prime example.
"The girl ran to two YCUA workers," Wiedbusch
explained, "who happened to be former students who knew me.They called me right away.With lights and siren going, I was there in about 90 seconds.I beat the police.But, the important thing is that she
has coordinated efforts with the city and townships in the area, as well as Eastern Michigan University security forces and neighborhood associations.
They have maps of the grounds and blueprints of the buildings themselves, so they can respond quickly in case of emergency," says Wiedbusch
works with the district's nurse, C. J. Falsetta, on CBRNE threats, too.
refers to them as "stay puts."
"Basically, they're where we need to keep the kids inside and turn off all the air intakes from outside that would bring toxic stuff into the buildings," Wiedbusch
explains."We needed to have something in place, just in case, for example, a local industry had a hazardous or potentially hazardous disaster, like Marsh Plating had a couple of years ago." March Plating Corp.
had a hydrochloric acid leak in 2003Wiedbusch has been Safe Schools Principal since 1994, when the position was created in response to vandalism and gang activity.
"People forget that 11 years ago many of our schools were fenced so no one could get in. We've been able to open things up and have beautiful campuses again since putting this program in place."Wiedbusch
was chosen to run the program because of his
multicultural contacts in the community, as well as his
energetic and enthusiastic idea-generating in the areas of security and student safety.
That energy and enthusiasm continues, as Wiedbusch
explains, "This coming fall, we're planning on having a large-scale mock disaster.