Education Corner: School Safety Item Proffered At June School Board Meeting

Mari Tere Rojas

Miami-Dade County Public School Board Member, District 6

At its June 2022 meeting, School Board Member Mari Tere Rojas proffered an agenda Item, which was approved by Board Members to expand the duties of the Miami-Dade County Districtwide Safety and Security Committee, established by Board action on February 15, 2017, to further review and evaluate current school safety and security protocols, procedures and mental health services, as well as establish a subcommittee to monitor the development and actions of the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission.

The May 24th shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, TX, has once again raised more questions regarding what could have been done to prevent such a horrific event. It is more than how a school building can be secured.

“Both of these events may have been avoided if proper assessment, care and follow-up services had been implemented,” Ms. Rojas said. “We must never let our guard down, and we can never 100 percent guarantee that there won’t be a situation in one of our schools. But we can assure the community that we are going to do everything humanly possible to try and diminish that possibility from occurring.”

The Districtwide Safety and Security committee meets on an ongoing basis to provide updates from the Miami-Dade Schools Police Department (M-DSPD) and gathers feedback from relevant stakeholders, including teachers’ union workers, school administrators and school board member appointees. The next meeting will be held July 12, 2022, during which MDSPD Chief Edwin Lopez and his team will discuss new hiring efforts and updated training plans for all officers and address the Board item proffered by Ms. Rojas.

A key element of school safety is ensuring mental health and behavior issues are properly addressed. In Florida, Senate Bill 7026 authorized by the 2018 Florida Legislature, comprehensively addressed the establishment of the Mental Health Assistance Allocation, which afforded funding to assist school districts in establishing or expanding school-based mental health care.

The School Board and Superintendent of Schools and the entire workforce of the MDSPD are to be commended for their outstanding commitment to law enforcement and to the safety and security of Miami-Dade County Public School students and the workforce. On May 25, 2022, Schools Superintendent Jose L. Dotres submitted a memo to the Board delineating the District’s protocols to be shared with families, as well as available resources to students and parents regarding the Uvalde massacre.


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