04-05-2018 Family continues to share Mason’s story, speaks on Good Samaritan Law at Ferris State U.;

Family continues to share Mason’s story, speaks on Good Samaritan Law at Ferris State U.

By Annette Christie In an early March trip to Ferris State University, Lori Mizwicki and her sister Brandi Huyser shared their story with approximately 300 college students. The true life story was that of Lori’s son Mason and efforts taken after Mason’s death on January 1, 2015. Mason, who was 16 at the time of his death, died from a prescription drug overdose. Following his death, his mom and aunt worked with, then, State Representative Al Pscholka, to pass legislation that would provide protection for an individual under the age of 21, calling 911 for help when someone needed medical attention due to prescription drug use. Mason was not alone on the night that he died but the other individuals with him neglected to call for help for fear of getting in trouble.

Hartford Schools further tighten security protocols

By Jon Bisnett Superintendent Andy Hubbard introduced District Safety Officer Dave Janicki who then outlined even more new student safety procedures at the Thursday, March 22 meeting of the Hartford School Board. With survey results back from the parents Janicki has taken interim steps to tighten security as additional long term solutions are considered.

OLICE PRESENCE… Officer Jim Coleman of the Hartford Police Department visited Redwood Elementary 2nd Graders to read a story for March Reading Month. As District Safety Officer Dave Janicki points out, “We have a great relationship with our local police. They support our schools in a variety of ways with Officer Coleman being the perfect example. One should never assume a squad car at the school means trouble. In most cases it simply means they care about our students.”

Personnel One more staff retirement was announced by Hubbard. Veteran 4th Grade teacher Cathy Rawson has chosen to retire following 27 years of service. On behalf of the District Superintendent Hubbard wished Rawson a most sincere thanks and best wishes for her future plans. School security update District Safety Officer Dave Janicki began by stating that Michigan ranks 5th in the nation in regard to school threats since the first of the year at 41. (Three additional threats occurred between the meeting and time of publication.) Ten have happened in Van Buren County, not counting the recent arrest in Paw Paw. Janicki has taken immediate steps to require all visitors during school hours must wear a pass provided by the office at all buildings. He has limited the access points of the buildings from five down to just three at Redwood and eliminated one entry point at the Middle School. Janicki says a couple of unhappy parents have called to complain. His reply is polite, yet inflexible. “We must do this,” says Janicki, “The kids come first over anybody’s inconvenience.” Visitors at the high school and middle school will not be allowed into the hallways while students are changing classes. When students are present in the hall, a visitor will be held indoors in the foyer and will not be allowed any further until students have cleared the hallways and returned to their classrooms. The policy applies to all visitors. Athletic Director Nick Blacker and Janicki met with the Emergency Manager Gary Brown from the Van Buren Intermediate School District to formulate a plan for outdoor activities including: Public Address Scripts for many different situations; Hartford coaches and visiting coaches will all have a laminated copy of emergency plan attached to their water coolers; working on re-locating all AED machines for easier access to the outdoor sports complex. VBISD’s Gary Brown commends Hartford as the first school in Southwest Michigan to have this plan in place. Blackmer recently attended a course on emergency management of outdoor activities and plans to share his knowledge to promote similar protocols at all schools in the new conference. Across the board Janicki reported survey results with high marks in most areas with the exception of questions pertaining to exits and entrances, which prompted the recent changes; and questions of security at dances and athletic events. Janicki has proposed engaging Hartford Police Department for all games, concerts and any school activity where the doors are open to the public. The Reserve Officers he proposes offer a lower-cost option for the board’s consideration as opposed to the cost of a full-time Resource Officer. The reserves would be armed and effectively carry the same weight as a regular officer other than the ability to formally affect an arrest. Janicki is also seeking a grant for an additional AED device priced around $1,400 to be placed in the outdoor concession stand for quick access. NARCAN training will begin shortly for staff. The program is supported by local hospitals with no cost to the school. A tentative date of May 25 is scheduled for a “Live Shooter” drill at the newly remodeled Redwood campus to both educate staff and familiarize Van Buren County SWAT with the building. Students will not be present. Janicki is also working with Cass County Sheriff to bring K-9 Officer Nellie to do a meet & greet with elementary students. Janicki wants to introduce the youngsters to K-9 operations to ease any tensions, since he routinely has a couple random K-9 drug sweeps of the High School/ Middle School campus each year. New business Erin Goodson attended as representative for the After Prom Committee and was granted the board’s blessing for a change of venue to Celebration Cinema, Benton Harbor. The lock-in is scheduled for April 21-22, immediately following prom. Celebration offers two private theatres that will feature movies, food, games and prizes, all for roughly half the cost of Arnie’s Fun Land and Wayside Lanes used in the most recent years. Superintendent’s Report Andy Hubbard spoke of pending legislation endorsed by a coalition of Michigan’s top law enforcement and educational groups. The Michigan School Safety Reform Plan is a no-nonsense plan rooted in commonly accepted strategies that are both effective and immediately actionable. The plan calls for a new $100 million grant program for personnel, a $20 million grant program for safety infrastructure, and other reforms, including: More school resource officers—sheriffs and police—working in school facilities through a new state grant program; more school mental health professionals to identify problems early through the same new state grant program; grants to ensure safer buildings for students and teachers; and mandatory reporting of threats and graduated penalties to help prevent violence. Currently, Michigan’s student to school counselor ratio is roughly 750 to 1. School social workers are at 1,000 to 1. School psychologists are roughly 4,800 to 1. All ratios are well below recommended levels. The plan also calls for improved reporting of school safety threats. The Michigan School Safety Reform Plan has been formally endorsed by: Michigan Sheriffs Association, Michigan Association of School Administrators, Michigan Association of School Boards, Michigan Association of School Psychologists, Michigan Association of School Social Workers, Michigan School Counselors Association, Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, and Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan. Hubbard thinks this plan has a real chance of becoming law. “With all the organizations driving this proposal, I’m thinking some action might actually occur sooner rather than later, due to the mid-term elections this August,” he commented. In other matters the math department has settled on new math books for Algebra, Geometry and Algebra II. Having no further business President Chambers adjourned the meeting at 8:22 p.m. The trustees meet next for the April workshop session.


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