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MMSD’s Office of School Safety now responsible for student security and mental health concerns

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MMSD's Office of School Safety Now Responsible for Student Security and Mental Health Concerns

MADISON (WKOW) -- After a controversial decision to get rid of school resource officers from Madison high schools, students are returning this year to a new approach by the school district.

Timothy LeMonds, MMSD Executive Director of Communications said, "This is our first full school year without school resource officers (SROs). We have a very comprehensive safety program for keeping our schools safe."

The newly formed Office of School Safety will combine student safety and emotional health.

Gina Aguglia, a certified social worker and co-director of the Office of School Safety said, "My part will be more around this social, emotional and psychological piece."

Sedric Morris, a former correctional officer and co-director of the Office of School Safety said, "My part will deal with student safety, assisting principals with ensuring school safety plans and drills are in place."

The Office of School Safety will support a school's already exisiting critical response team -- like school psychologists, social workers, teachers and administrators.

Aguglia said, "School teams are definitely the people that are here day in, day out knowing their buildings, knowing their staff, knowing their kids."

Matthew Thompson, La Follette High School Principal said, "That's really our focus to pre-empt issues when we really get to know them."

School officials say regular contact with students will be a cornerstone of this new office - a way to prevent a problem that could lead to violence.

Thompson said, "When students feel connected to a school, they want to be here. When students feel they have a trusted adult, that's when we start working together and heading off problems."

If a student or parent has an important school safety concern, MMSD is rolling out the 'Speak Up Speak Out' app.

Aguglia said, "It's an anonymous reporting system and it is just one more opportunity for kids to report out situations that they might be hearing or seeing on social media."

LeMonds said, "It's really taking that forward step, moving that forward in bringing the safety of the whole child to the next level."

This app is a 24/7 threat reporting system and will be free. District officials expect it to be available later this school year.

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Rhonda Foxx

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