School is out for the summer months, but security personnel from Montgomery County Public Schools are hard at work preparing for next year.
More than 200 school security officials from around the county gathered at Northwest High School, in Germantown, Maryland, this week for a training session that is required by the state.
“The training is to give them the tools they need so they understand how to deal with students. It gets into discipline and the difference between where law enforcement takes over and where school administration starts,” said Kate Hession, executive director of the Maryland Center for School Safety.
Michael Rudinski, the man who developed and organized the training, said prevention techniques are a main focus.
Other topics include intervention, youth development and de-escalation.
“The worst fear is the death of a student,” Rudinski said. “We teach [security personnel] how to identify and remove a threat and get the threat mitigated before it ever happens.”
Officials required to attend the training include school resource officers (armed Montgomery County Police officers) and school security guards (unarmed employees who work for the school system).
“The most important thing day to day is to have a positive relationship with students in their school building,” said Ed Clarke, the chief safety officer with Montgomery County Public Schools. “Those relationships are absolutely critical to school safety.”
Officer P.J. Gregory, a school resource officer at Einstein High School, said the training helps foster those relationships.
“The idea is to have everyone on the same page,” Gregory said. “We come into training like this to get updates so when we go back to the new school year we have a different mindset and we’re more informed.”
The 40-hour training session is a requirement under the Maryland Safe to Learn Act of 2018.