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Oxford schools parents, teachers working with district officials on new security measures

Posted at 1:26 PM, May 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-30 16:42:41-04

OXFORD, Mich. (WXYZ) — Shortly after a 15-year-old shooter killed four students at Oxford High School on Nov. 30, band teacher Jim Gibbons got a call he'll never forget. It was from the president of the teachers union in Newtown, Connecticut.

"He reached out to me that day and said, 'I am here for you. I've walked in your shoes. I know what you're going through.' And we spoke that night for probably an hour and a half," said Gibbons, who heads up the teachers union for Oxford Community Schools.

RELATED:Remembering the victims: Community grieving the loss of 4 students in Oxford High School shooting

Gibbons and others in Oxford Community Schools also know teachers from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were murdered.

And now, he's reaching out to teachers in Uvalde, Texas to offer his support.

RELATED: Authorities: Texas elementary school shooting kills 19 children, two adults

"My daughters all cried. My wife cried about Uvalde," said Gibbons, whose wife is also a teacher at Oxford high. Their twin daughters just graduated and another daughter is a freshman who began this latest school year.

Gibbons is now on a security team comprised of other parents, teachers, law enforcement and district officials trying to determine what new security measures should be implemented at Oxford high and other schools in the district.

Parent Lori Bourgeau said parents being at the table on security measures is what they've needed.

Jill Lemond, Oxford's assistant superintendent of Safety and School Operations, said after their tragedy, they were grateful for the many companies that reached out to offer their services and high tech security equipment, including artificial intelligence that can detect firearms.

ZeroEyes integrates the high school's existing surveillance cameras with their technology that can identify and isolate a firearm once it's within view of any camera.

That image, stamped with the time and location, is then reviewed by a military veteran to verify that the object detected is in fact a firearm, so that they don't alert schools and first responders to false positives.

Lemond said the are also considering using dogs that can detect ammunition.

Another measure in place is called Gaggle that which, according to the company, "flags concerning content in students’ school-issued accounts for review and blocks potentially harmful content."

Lemond said Gaggle will also allow them to provide additional help to a student if needed.

"I'm just so grateful that's in place because what we've heard from so many other schools, unfortunately, who've had these terrible types of tragedies like us, is that the next wave of tragedy is frequently suicide. And we are just not prepared to accept that. And so we have been very anti-suicide here and Gaggle is one of those anti-suicide measures we have in place to monitor our students and make sure that we know if they need us."

Parents, including those whose children were killed or injured at Oxford High School, have handed heavy criticism to school officials and district administrators, saying there was gross negligence that led to the attacks.

On Friday, Lemond pointed to an assessment fromSecure Education Consultants (SEC) prepared for the district in which the firm summarized their analysis of security protocols that were in place at Oxford High before and on the day of the deadly shooting:

SEC believes that Oxford Community Schools has done a remarkable job in developing and executing the extremely comprehensive safety and security plans and it currently provides very safe and secure environments for staffs and students. It was obvious to SEC that there has been a significant amount of thought and effort put in to successfully integrating sound physical design features with comprehensive policies and procedures.

Some findings by SEC, posted on the district's website, include areas where there is room for improvement.

SEC cites a "general lack of understanding of the purpose and potential use cases for this (Pre-Plan Live alert) system. Many administrators believed this system was a direct alert to Law Enforcement. An analysis of this system revealed its purpose is limited to an internal alert system."

The report found the potential for "communication failures or confusion" in the way the PA system at each school is operated.

SEC also recommended the district request additional training from the company that supplied their camera system. The report makes note of "numerous features available that are not all being used at each school. SEC found that in general the knowledge of the camera system varied at each school and many staff members weren’t comfortable utilizing the system. In some schools, staff members had to contact IT to review footage."