Dec. 19, 2013
By Tara Cavanaugh
The Ann Arbor Public Schools is taking part in a new and unique collaboration that aims to ensure student safety in the event of an unwanted intruder emergency at one of our schools.
The district joins local police departments, led by the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department, and the public schools across the county including: Ann Arbor Public Schools, Chelsea School District, Dexter Community Schools, Lincoln Consolidated School District, Manchester Community Schools, Milan Area Schools, Saline Area Schools, Whitmore Lake Public Schools and Ypsilanti Community Schools as well as the University of Michigan Public Safety Department and the Eastern Michigan University Police Department.
“The partnership between law enforcement and every single school district in Washtenaw County is something I’m told has never been done before,” said Ann Arbor Police Lt. Matthew Lige.
All of the above schools and police departments are participating in the ALICE training program. ALICE stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate. It is an acronym for options for a variety of responsive actions by school staff in an unpredictable situation. It is not a step-by-step process; instead, it helps staff consider ways to communicate with one another and be prepared for a variety of emergency scenarios with the goal of protecting their students until law enforcement arrive.
As part of the ALICE training, staff practice responding to an active shooter situation with local law enforcement guidance, including a police officer acting as a gunman. It is one of the most emotionally difficult and most important aspects of the training, Lige said.
“This is an emotionally charged subject because it involves children. Whether they’re administrators, teachers, athletic directors or whatever position they hold, when they’re in that school, they have an enormous responsibility to the kids.”
Ninety-five principals, assistant principals and administrators completed the training last month at the WISD. Teachers and staff in every AAPS school will begin receiving training this year with the goal of complete staff training by the end of 2014.
“I’m looking forward to moving this into the school buildings,” Logan Principal Terra Webster said. “That will be an interesting, healthy, and needed conversation.”
Rashonda Jameson, a counselor at Huron, is on the AAPS Crisis Response Team.
“I think this training is empowering,” Jameson said. “For me personally, I was afraid of thinking about school shootings, but now that I’ve gone through this training a couple of times, it really does make me feel more prepared in the event of something like this.”
It is important to note that AAPS students will not be trained in the ALICE response. This is an adult protocol that is used to inform and prepare staff.
AAPS will hold parent meetings later in the school year with local law enforcement to fully explain the ALICE protocol and answer questions.
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