Safety & Security
At Rochester Community Schools, safety is always our priority. We realize that safety is not always convenient, but we are committed to doing everything within our control to protect our students, staff and guests.
One of our best defenses continues to be the strong relationships and trust that have been cultivated between students, staff, and our community partners. Students are encouraged to talk with a trusted adult if they see, hear, or experience something that doesn't seem right. Community members can also report information using the Talk to RCS feature on our website or anonymously using Michigan's student safety program, OK2SAY.
Over the past decade, significant improvements have been made to enhance security, thanks to our strong partnerships, the community’s investment in our schools, and a strategic plan that is student-centered.
Rochester Community Schools was proud to present our first School Safety Summit on Feb. 8. This informative event featured the district's community partners sharing updates and resources about how we are working together to keep our students, staff, and guests safe.
The presentation provided families with one-stop access to district safety information, processes and best practices. Jason Russell, CEO of Secure Education Consultants (SEC), who provides safety audits for thousands of school districts, emphasized the excellent work RCS has done to ensure up-to-date safety training, preparedness and building security.
Following the tragic events in Oxford, a team from SEC toured every building across the district to determine additional opportunities to enhance security. This team is comprised of staff with prior U.S. Secret Service, Department of Homeland Security, military, police, fire, and education experience. Implemented recommendations include updating maps for all district buildings; adding numbers to all exterior building doors; and reviewing and modifying entrance and exit procedures. RCS continues to review recommendations and implement best practices.
Thanks to the overwhelming support of the greater Rochester community, the district was able to make a significant investment through recent bond and sinking fund programs to enhance safety and school security districtwide—a priority outlined in the RCS strategic plan.
Today, main building entrances across the district have two sets of vestibule doors, along with a door to the office that provides staff with a better visitor verification system and building lockdown capabilities. More than 1,500 video surveillance cameras have been installed in the schools and on buses. (A decade ago, the district had a total of six video cameras for the entire district.) Locks that latch from the interior side of the classroom door have been added, and an updated districtwide telephone system, radio, and PA system ensure proper notification and warning during an emergency. Preschool programs have also been integrated into elementary school buildings to ensure the safest learning environment possible.
Safety summit attendees were able to meet our school resource officers, hear about the district's continuing safety audits and improvements, get updates on the physical security features in our buildings, view an instructional video for student lockdown drills, and learn about our collaborative emergency response efforts that extend to our city, county and state partners.
The Oakland County Tactical Training Consortium, also known as OakTac, is an organization established by local sheriff and police departments to provide for the common goal of training law enforcement personnel in multiple jurisdictions and ensuring standardization of communications, training and tactical techniques. Former Superintendent Dr. Robert Shaner became a member of OakTac in 2022. His experience as a police officer, U.S. Marine Corps officer, high school principal, and school superintendent bring a unique perspective to aid in the discussions. Safety summit presenters shared the importance of this unified, advanced planning for an efficient response in the event of an emergency.
As part of its commitment to ongoing, comprehensive training, each school within the Rochester Community School District has a designated Critical Incident Team that includes administrators, teachers, counselors, secretaries, support staff, and security personnel. These teams assist during emergency situations; discuss building safety and security; and provide support when carrying out yearly mandated drills (five fire drills, three lockdown drills, and two severe weather drills).
The district meets regularly with liaison officers from the Rochester Police Department and the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, along with security consultants at Safe-Ed., to learn about opportunities to enhance daily operating procedures for student safety and school security. Recent results from collaborative efforts include the creation of updated lockdown training videos for all staff and students; installation of Knox boxes (small wall-mounted boxes that hold building keys) for fire and law enforcement personnel; distribution of master keys to local law enforcement and liaison officers; installation of kits that support the Stop the Bleed® program; restocking of “Go bags” designed to carry emergency gear and student information; and identification and support of staff training opportunities.
Law enforcement partners support staff training opportunities for multiple scenarios, which include: medical emergencies, lockdown/shelter in place, aggressive intruder, fire/evacuation, natural disasters and weather-related emergencies. They also assist the district’s school nurse to ensure personnel are trained in CPR/AED and EpiPen use, as well as the use of tourniquets, which aligns with the American College of Surgeons Stop the Bleed® program.
Most importantly, our safety summit presenters affirmed that one of the district’s best defenses against threats continues to be the strong relationships and trust that have been cultivated between students, staff, and our community partners.
School resource officers (SRO) from the Rochester Police Department and Oakland County Sheriff’s Office are an important part of our school community and have a regular, familiar presence in RCS buildings and on school campuses. Currently, RCS has five liaison officers who provide support 10 months a year during the school year and one detective sergeant who provides year-round support.
Through respectful conversations, frequent participation in school activities, and involvement on safety committees, our SROs continue to build trusting and long-lasting relationships with our school community, while providing expert guidance and a connection to resources. Additionally, our SROS, along with RCS teachers, administrators, counselors, social workers and school psychologists are trained to identify students in distress so they can get them the help they need before a situation escalates.
RCS continues to encourage students to talk with a trusted adult if they see, hear, or experience something that doesn’t seem right. Community members can also report information using the Talk to RCS feature on our website or anonymously using Michigan's student safety program, OK2SAY.
Before and after the presentation, a resource fair provided free giveaways and opportunities to reinforce home and school safety. An authorized collection area was on site for safe medication disposal, the Jamie Daniels Foundation provided free at-home Deterra drug disposal kits, and training was shared for individuals to administer Narcan for opioid overdose situations.
Other resources included trigger locks for at-home gun safety from Be SMART, Fentanyl testing strips and CPR face shields from the Alliance of Coalitions for Healthy Communities, File of Life refrigerator magnet pockets for emergency contact information from the Rochester Hills Fire Department, flashing safety lights for backpacks from the Rochester Community Schools Foundation, and much more.
Safety summit partners included the Rochester Police Department, Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, Safe-Ed., City of Rochester Hills Fire Department, Ascension Providence Rochester Hospital, Rochester-Auburn Hills Community Coalition, Alliance of Coalitions for Healthy Communities, Oakland County Crisis Intervention and Emergency Management teams, Be SMART, Common Ground, Rochester Community PTA Council, OK2SAY, Rochester Area Youth Assistance, CARE House of Oakland County, Rochester Community Schools Foundation, City of Rochester, City of Rochester Hills, and the Jamie Daniels Foundation.
The presentation of the RCS School Safety Summit is available below.
- How does the district enhance school security for students, staff and guests?
- What safety procedures are in place?
- Are public safety officials present in our schools?
- Does the district conduct emergency drills?
- What type of safety training is provided for staff?
- Does the district have formal emergency operations plans?
- As a parent/caregiver, how can I help?
Michigan Public Act 12 of 2014 modified the frequency and recording requirements for school safety drills and is effective July 1, 2014.
Under the requirements, any K-12 school must conduct the following drills annually:
- Five fire drills per school year with a reasonable interval between each drill. Three must be completed by December 1.
- Two tornado drills per school year. At least one must be completed during the month of March.
- Three lockdown/shelter-in-place drills, where the occupants are restricted to the interior of the building. At least one drill must be completed before December 1, and another completed after January 1.
At least one of the drills is required to be conducted during a lunch, recess, or at another time when a significant number of students are gathered but not in the classroom.
The Act also requires school officials to document completed safety drills on the school's website within five days of completing the drill and maintain this information on the website for at least three years. A copy of each completed school's drill is posted in the school folder below.