2018-04-15 / News

North Branch Schools approves armed guard

BY NICHOLAS PUGLIESE
810-452-2601 • npugliese@mihomepaper.com

NORTH BRANCH — The North Branch Board of Education on Monday approved an agreement with security company DM Burr to provide an armed security guard through the remainder of the 2017-18 school year, scheduled to end June 11.

The guard’s first day in the district was Wednesday.

He will be stationed near the entrance to the high school from 6:45 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. each day. According to a message to parents and students issued by Superintendent Jim Fish, North Branch Village President Kelly Martin and Lapeer County Sheriff’s Dept. Undersheriff Jeremy Howe were notified of the district’s intention to utilize the DM Burr security guard. “In the highly unlikely event that something happens, we want to be as prepared as possible and we’ve been doing that all along,” said Fish. “(The guard) is just a deterrent. If someone’s upset and they want to cause harm, maybe they’ll think twice.”

Fish said that before taking action at the board meeting, he and the North Branch Board of Education Finance Committee met with the owner of DM Burr and reviewed the qualifications of the security guard who has been assigned to the district, and were satisfied with the individual’s record of service during his six years with DM Burr.

The guard, along with others installed in Thumb-area schools for the remainder of the 2017-18 school year, have received training in multiple areas, including firearms, first aid and CPR, as well as active shooter scenarios. The guards also undergo Michigan State Police background checks and ongoing FBI Live Scan reviews. “Most feedback has been positive and many (area families) are glad that the board took action,” said Fish. “We’re always open to listening to their concerns and we did receive communications from some parents — but we want them to express their concerns, that’s why we’re here.”

Fish said that the district is investigating options with the North Branch Village to enter into a partnership to secure the services of a school resource officer for the 2018-19 school year. “(DM Burr’s guard) extra security at no cost,” said Fish. “We’re looking at long-term solutions and we’re going to make decisions that are in the best interest of the safety of our students and staff.”

According to Fish’s letter to parents and students, “the number one priority for North Branch Area Schools is the safety of its staff and students.” Fish pointed toward October’s school-wide safety drill, the recent community forum with Lapeer County Sheriff Scott McKenna and the creation of a district-wide Safety Committee as examples. “I applaud our Board of Education for taking advantage of an opportunity to provide additional security measures for our students and staff at no cost to the district,” said Fish.

North Branch Area Schools is one of 15 districts in the region that have opted to accept DM Burr’s offer of added security as part of the Flint-based company’s “Operation SOS (Secure Our Schools)” initiative.

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