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Tag Archive | "OK2Say"

OK2SAY has received over 10,000 tips from Michigan students


Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette in 2016 with Jo Spry, Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning, and the inspiration behind the OK2Say program. Post photo by J. Reed.

AG released the 2017 tips numbers, which increased 37 percent since 2016

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced that the OK2SAY student safety program has received 10,734 tips since the program was started in September 2014. In 2017 alone, the program received 4,605 tips–up 37 percent from 2016. For the first time, suicide threats topped the tip list.

Tips were received across 30 categories including the following:

  • 1,205 tips on suicide threats;
  • 961 tips on bullying;
  • 456 tips in the other category, related to anxiety, stress, depression, harassment
  • 390 tips on self-harm
  • 311 tips on drugs; and
  • 287 tips on cyberbullying.

“This program can be categorized as nothing else but a success, and it is a success because Michigan students are using it,” said Schuette. “OK2SAY has given students who previously did not know where to turn a confidential place to get help. I want to thank our presenters and the OK2SAY technicians at the Michigan State Police who make students feel safe and comfortable when providing tips. They are another piece of the puzzle that makes this program such a success.”

State Attorney General Bill Schuette with Cedar Springs students in 2016 when the OK2SAY program was adopted here. Courtesy photo.

OK2SAY is a student safety program that acts as an early warning system in Michigan schools to prevent tragedies before they occur. Launched in 2014, the program encourages students to submit confidential tips to trained technicians regarding potential harm or threats 24/7.

Through the 4,605 tips received in 2017, OK2SAY has saved lives. Submitted tips have prevented school violence, thwarted suicide attempts and provided help to many Michigan students in need of mental health or social services.

OK2SAY is effective in combatting the culture of silence that permeates Michigan schools. After every tip a report is filled out and acted upon. In the 2016 reports, 67 percent of schools, law enforcement and mental health professionals who received the tip from OK2SAY line said they were previously unaware of the problem. OK2SAY has proven to be immensely successful in saving lives and preventing tragedies.

Cedar Springs Public Schools adopted this state program in 2016. Schuette was on hand for the kick off of the program, and told both students and the Post that it is about changing the culture from “don’t be a snitch” to “it’s ok to communicate to save a life.”

“OK2SAY has made a difference. We are stopping violence in its tracks and making school a safer place for our kids,” said Schuette. “Credit for the program’s success is directly attributable to the thousands of student ‘heroes in the hallway’ who stepped up and took ownership of their roles in keeping their schools and classmates safe.”

The state program, which started in fall 2014, just happened to be inspired Cedar Springs Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning, Jo Spry, before she came to Cedar Springs. Schuette honored Spry during that program with a special license plate in a frame that reads “OK2SAY.” 

“It’s truly a passion of mine to make sure students in all of our schools are safe,” said Spry at the time. “OK2SAY is a wonderful program, and I will be eternally grateful to the legislators, community groups and the attorney general that stepped up to see it through.”

How to submit an OK2say tip

OK2SAY encourages confidential tips on criminal activities or potential harm directed at students, school employees, and schools. Tips can be submitted through the following ways:

Call: 8-555-OK2SAY, 855-565-2729

Text: 652729 (OK2SAY)

Email: ok2say@mi.gov

Web:  www.ok2say.com

OK2SAY Mobile App: Available for download in app stores for iPhone and Android.

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Year in Review: Cedar Springs Schools adopt OK2Say program


 

By Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs Public Schools district accomplished a lot of good things in 2016, one of them being the adoption of the statewide OK2Say program, a student safety initiative that enables students to confidentially report criminal activities or potential harm directed at students, school employees, and schools. Attorney General Bill Schuette was on hand for the kick off of the program last spring.

Schuette told the students and The Post that it is about changing the culture from “don’t be a snitch” to “it’s ok to communicate to save a life.”

“OK2SAY has made a difference. We are stopping violence in its tracks and making school a safer place for our kids,” said Schuette. “Credit for the program’s success is directly attributable to the thousands of student ‘heroes in the hallway’ who stepped up and took ownership of their roles in keeping their schools and classmates safe.”

Students can confidentially submit tips anytime by using the OK2SAY mobile app, online, email, texting, or by calling trained program technicians. Upon receipt of a tip, specially trained OK2SAY technicians address the immediate need and forward the information to the appropriate responding law enforcement agency or organization. Tips go to schools, local law enforcement agencies, community mental health agencies or the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

The state program, which started in fall 2014, just happened to be inspired by our current Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning, Jo Spry, before she came to Cedar Springs. Schuette honored Spry during the program with a special license plate in a frame that reads “OK2SAY.” Spry did not know that was going to happen.

“It’s truly a passion of mine to make sure students in all of our schools are safe,” said Spry. “OK2SAY is a wonderful program, and I will be eternally grateful to the legislators, community groups and the attorney general that stepped up to see it through.”

School resource officer

In order to beef up security for the 2016-17 school year, the Cedar Springs Public School district partnered with the Kent County Sheriff Department to bring a school resource officer to the school campus. Deputy Tom McCutcheon, who began his career with the KCSD in 1993, was chosen to fill that role. He spent many years as a D.A.R.E (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) Instructor, speaking in many different school districts, including Cedar Springs.

The Post asked him why he wanted the SRO position in Cedar Springs. “I hope to be a positive influence to the young people there,” he explained. “A lot of people think of security, and students feeling safe. But it’s more. I want to be a part of the school. It’s like what being a community policing officer is; you try to be proactive. If there is criminal activity going on, and people look up to you and trust you, you can help reduce a lot of that.”

The position will be jointly funded by the school and the county. The Kent County Sheriff Department offered to fund 30 percent of the program. The outstanding cost to the district would be approximately $76,000, after the Sheriff Department’s contribution. The cost would cover wages and benefits for 40 hours per week for the deputy; all standard issued deputy equipment; a Kent County Sheriff car, fully equipped, fueled and maintained; and all police training and supervision.

Accreditation

Cedar Springs announced in May that they had earned their North Central Accreditation through AdvanceEd, a global leader in providing continuous improvement and accreditation to over 32,000 institutions worldwide.

The district went through a rigorous and detailed review last school year that culminated with an external review team conducting a 3-day on site, after which they awarded the district the distinction of this national accreditation.

“We are thrilled, of course,” said Cedar Springs Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn. “We have such a great district. The process really goes on all year. But this visit is where the rubber meets the road. It’s when they see the things that they’ve heard about all year long.”

“It is so evident that you really care about your students and should be proud of your district, from the top all the way down,” said presenter Vicki DeMao, of AdvanceEd.

The five-person team from AdvanceEd interviewed 120 stakeholders in the district, consisting of the superintendent, board members, administrators, teachers, support staff, parents/community members, and students. They also visited 32 classrooms in all seven buildings and observed students.

The report showed what powerful practices (or strengths) that the district had in various areas, and what ways they could improve.

The school district must go through this process every five years. They were last accredited in 2011, and it was good through June 2016.

Cherry Health Center

If a student gets sick at Cedar Springs Public Schools, they don’t have to wait to be picked up by a parent and then wait for an appointment with the family doctor. Instead, with a parent’s permission, they can be seen right on campus the same day at the newly renovated Cherry Health Center.

The Cherry Health Center, located at Red Hawk Elementary, celebrated their grand reopening on Tuesday, October 18, with a ribbon cutting, speakers, tours and refreshments.

“Cherry Health first opened in 2015 with a limited amount of medical and behavioral health services in a temporarily constructed space at the school, while campaign funds were raised to build out a fully functional health center,” explained Tiffany Aldrich, Director of Communications for Cherry Health. “The ribbon cutting and open house was to share the fully constructed health center with the community, which now also includes dental services.”

Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn said that Cedar Springs Schools serves a population of 48 percent low socio-economic students. “To have this is important. We now have dental, medical, and behavioral health, with DHS right next door.”

Services are provided regardless of ability to pay, but insurance may be billed when possible. Students must have parental consent on file to be treated.

“Any student ages 3-21 can be seen in the health center, regardless of whether or not they attend CSPS,” said Aldrich. “Therefore, if a student attends CSPS, a charter or private school, or is homeschooled, they can come to the health center.” Those younger than three must be a sibling of a student using the health center.

The health center offers on-site Medicaid enrollment assistance, well- child checks, immunizations, same day appointments for acute issues, referrals for more serious illness/injuries, hearing and vision screenings and more.

The health center is open from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information or to make an appointment call (616) 696-3470.

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From the Superintendent’s desk


Laura VanDuyn

Laura VanDuyn

Dear CSPS Families:

It’s hard to believe that November is here. We are so engaged in what we do as educators and students that the time flies…and YES, we are having fun! Our first 2 months of school have brought many fantastic opportunities for our students and staff. I’d like to update you on progress we continue to make as a progressive district serving our kids with passion and collaboration.

  • Strategic Planning: We are moving right along and look forward to completion of the process soon. This important process is one that a school district takes on every 3-5 years. It enables the Board of Education to establish the vision (where we are going as a district), mission (why we are here doing what we are doing) and core values (how we go about doing our work). This process involved approximately 125 people in feedback groups. Those groups were established by leaders from our teachers, parents, students, community members, support staff and administrators. The Board of Education is now using all the feedback from the constituent groups and will eventually vote on approving the strategic plan that will have 4 goals: academic, environment, 21st century learning, finance. This process has been inclusive and engaging!
  • Our new math curriculum implementation is going very well and rave reviews are coming in from our teachers, students and parents. Our principals are working with our teachers on tight alignment of the new K-5 curriculum with the 6-12 curriculum. This is exciting work for all of us. We are so proud of the process we put in place over the last 2 years to have our teachers work in collaborative groups to select the curriculum.
  • We are excited to know that our work on Responsive Classroom® (RC) is now being talked about in other districts. I’ve received phone calls and emails to talk about the great benefits of RC and the possibility of other districts looking at training for their schools. We are excited to be the first district to bring this to our region! Please read the article about our outstanding teachers and principals implementing RC in the School News Network: http://www.schoolnewsnetwork.org
  • We are proud that our band students and directors are leading the way after coming in 3rd in two recent state band competitions. Our band will perform at Ford Field on Saturday. Thank you all for helping Cedar Springs lead the way…you make us proud!
  • Hat’s off to our business department staff under the leadership of Rosemary Zink, CPA, MBA and CFO! There has been a lot of work in the business department over the last year. We are elated to know that we are moving forward with transparency in reporting, collaboration and inclusion in budgeting and in systems development. Last November 1st we had to employ the services of a consultant to provide an overview of our business services after concerns were raised by a community member throughout the summer and into the fall of 2015. The great news is we were able to get a comprehensive look at our business practices in order to plan forward. Additionally, we were able to keep our business department going until we were able to hire Ms. Zink. Our business department employees are so dedicated to making sure we all have what we need to do our jobs. We are excited about what is ahead and purposely put a financial goal in the strategic plan to keep a sharp focus on all the advancements that are being made in the business department.
  • Anne Kostus and our terrific team of teachers and counselors at the high school continue to rally around Early Middle College. We are one of few districts offering this opportunity to our high school students. We are proud of being on the leading edge of this statewide initiative. This is so important for giving our students an advantage in college readiness. Hat’s off to all who are making this happen for our amazing students!
  • The OK2Say program has now been implemented at Red Hawk and with our current 7th and 8th graders at the middle school. We were honored last April when our Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and his team thought enough of Cedar Springs Public Schools to spend his day with us kicking off the OK2Say program. That dedication to our district, being a leader in the OK2Say initiative, is humbling. We attribute that to Jo Spry, our Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning, as she brought the program to Michigan. We love being on the cutting edge of such important work to keep our schools safe.
  • It’s clear by looking around our campus that our maintenance and grounds crew are working hard. In fact, we have data to prove that. Mr. Ken Simon, our new Director of Operations, is tracking data on work orders and setting goals for his department. Thus far his hard-working team has reduced work orders in progress to 8%…and the goal was 10%! We thank Mr. Simon and his team for supporting all we do as a district as their work is foundational to providing a wonderful learning atmosphere for our students.
  • We are proud of the staff we’ve had with us for many years and are proud of the new staff joining us for the first time this year. Last school year we created and continue to develop an excellent Human Resources Department. Leading that is Ms. Carrie Duddles who is doing a stellar job for all staff and for the district. To that end, there are processes that have been put in place that structure hiring and provide streamlining with the technology, payroll and other departments. There is misinformation that 50 or more employees resigned from the district since January, 2016. It can be confusing as there are times when people on the resignation list are those who resign from one position, such as interventionist, who actually earned another position, such as a teacher. Therefore, their names will appear as resignations when in fact, they are still employees of the District. Furthermore, retirements such as the 11 we had last spring along with 2 leaves of absence that were granted appear in the same category as resignations/layoffs. To add to that is the fact that there are some employees who earn what is called a “schedule B” assignment/salary for coaching athletics, etc. Those positions are counted on the resignation list when someone decides they won’t be able to coach anymore. Those may be teachers or support staff employed by CSPS who are only resigning their coaching positions, not their full-time positions … or they may be people who do not work in the district but only coach a sport, etc. As you can see, there is a lot that can make a list appear to be something it is not. The lists contain all support, teaching and administrator positions. Simple lists can be misleading without understanding what all is encompassed in them, but we know as we calculate the numbers of actual resignations that we are well within a general range of what can be expected for any district. It’s always important to gather the facts and we encourage all to seek facts prior to establishing concerns. Thankfully, we are putting these important processes in place to track our hiring, seniority, benefits, payroll, etc. These structures are incredibly important to keeping the District on track in budgeting…we are proud of the work we are doing in this area!
  • It is our honor to have with us, Dr. Barbara Johnson, a National Blue Ribbon School principal, principal of a Top 10 school in the state and a Reading Now Network school. Dr. Johnson is working with our new “Leader in Training” at Beach Elementary School. We are so very fortunate to have Mrs. Miranda Latimer (one of our excellent CSPS teachers who earned a leadership position in the district) as our administrator at Beach Elementary. She is getting the benefit of learning from our outstanding principal team as well as from Dr. Barb Johnson. It is to our benefit to have someone who has been a principal recognized in the state and nation for her terrific contributions in education. Please know that the affordability in this comes from a “Leader in Training” salary that is significantly less than a principal in order to afford the mentor, as agreed upon by the Leader in Training upon accepting the position. Dr. Barb Johnson is being talked about all over Michigan…we are THRILLED to be a district benefiting from her services.
  • NEOLA policy work continues as we are nearing the end of the work to add the Administrative Guidelines to the policies that were adopted this summer. This Board of Education and administration have worked long and hard to do a complete policy overhaul to ensure we are on board with the most state-of-the-art policy that is constantly updated and inclusive of any changed or new legislation. It’s so nice to be a district on the forefront of important reform such as policy as it guides what we do as a district.
  • Our School Resource Officer program is serving our students, staff and families so well. We have seen the countless benefits of the program in such a short time and look forward to continuing to develop the program. We are fortunate to bring this program to CSPS and know that it’s making a difference in our school operations and in our student and staff well being. Thank you, Deputy McCutcheon, for all you are doing to make this innovative program a success!

As we enter into the season for recognizing all we have to be thankful for, know that our staff and Board of Education are thankful that you share your most cherished blessings with us. Thank you for partnering with us to be make a positive impact in your child’s life. We, at CSPS, take very seriously what we do as educators to support your child in developing a successful present and future life. To that end, we hold high expectations and a commitment to accountability for ourselves and for our students. We are thankful that we do this together as we know our purpose is the same…seeing your child reach his/her potential.

It is an honor and privilege to serve as your superintendent. Please contact me at any time, should I be able to support you and your child in educational success.

Warmly,

Laura VanDuyn, Ed.D.

CSPS Superintendent of Schools

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Cedar Springs Schools focus on suicide prevention


csps-hawk-logoBy Judy Reed

The excitement of the beginning of a new school year for Cedar Springs Public Schools was muted this year as the district is experiencing a disturbing trend—three student suicides in less than a year. One happened in August 2015, one in May 2016, and the most recent in August 2016. Each one has left the families, students, staff, and community reeling—and asking, “Why is this happening?”

According to the Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan, Suicide is the third leading cause of death in children ages 15 to 24, in Kent County.

“We want this to be exposed,” explained Dr. Laura VanDuyn, Superintendent at Cedar Springs Public Schools. “You don’t realize how many may be contemplating it. It’s really scary.”

In May, Van Duyn began to work on pulling together experts in the field and agencies that could help with prevention and treatment.

They district had already implemented the OK2Say program earlier in the spring, which is a Michigan program created by Cedar Springs Curriculum Director Jo Spry, as well as a peer listening group, to help combat bullying, violence, crime, and suicide. According to VanDuyn, OK2Say has saved lives in the district.

“There have been several calls in the last couple of weeks,” said VanDuyn. “Our new school resource officer has personally escorted three children to the hospital after getting tips through the program.”

But this year, the district is doing even more. The experts in the field that VanDuyn contacted in the spring had their first meeting on September 1 to meet each other and begin to come up with a plan to respond in a crisis situation, as well as how to educate staff and students on suicide prevention. Included in the group was Arbor Services Kent School Services Network, the Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan, Cherry Health, school mental health counselors, psychologists, and more.

“Our goal is to create a model on how to best utilize the services everyone offers to best serve kids,” explained VanDuyn. “We will meet again to define our roles and what each can offer.”

Other things they will do is expand the b.e. n.i.c.e. program to high school (in addition to middle school); teach the Live Laugh Love curriculum in some of the higher grades (from the Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan) and also offer the Healthy Kids series, three free events.

They also have an event coming up next week that they hope the public will attend. They will be showing the free movie “Hope Bridge” on Wednesday, Sept. 14 at 6:30 p.m. in the high school auditorium. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. The movie is about a young man whose father commits suicide. (See ad on page 2.) Christy Buck, Executive Director at the Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan, will also be on hand to speak at the event.

The school district is also encouraging people to attend the “Walk to fight suicide” at Millenium Park on Sept. 18 at 1 p.m. For more info you can visit afsp.org/walk.

“It would be great if we could get a big showing from Cedar Springs,” said VanDuyn.

She said that she has been overwhelmed by the amount of community support she’s getting from people calling and asking what they can do, and saying that they will help in anyway that they can.

And VanDuyn is determined to do something to help stop kids from considering suicide as a solution to their problems. “All of these kids were unique. They were good kids. The only way to work towards stopping this is to expose it,” she said.

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OK2Say received 2,000-plus student tips in 2015


N-Ok2SaySchool safety initiative saves lives and helps kids struggling at school 

A school safety program that emphasizes that it’s ok for students to tell when someone’s being bullied, self-harming, threatening suicide, carrying weapons, etc., received over 2,000 tips in its first full year of operation.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and Michigan State Police Director Colonel Kriste Kibbey Etue announced the 2015 results of the OK2Say student safety program this week.

In 2015, the school safety initiative generated over 2,165 tips in 30 categories, including:

  • 536 tips on bullying;
  • 396 tips on suicide threats;
  • 261 tips related to depression or academics;
  • 252 tips on cyberbullying, and;
  • 158 tips regarding self-harm.

“The results show OK2Say is making a difference for Michigan kids. We have stopped violence, saved lives, and helped make it a little easier for students across Michigan to walk through the hallways at school,” said Schuette. “OK2Say is one more tool in a school’s safety box. We will continue our commitment to building a responsible and safe culture for all Michigan students.”

“The Michigan State Police is pleased to find that as more students learn about the OK2Say program, more students are using it,” stated Etue. “All tips are taken seriously; nothing is too small or insignificant to report.”

In 2015, more than 1,000 OK2Say presentations reached 130,000 students across the State of Michigan. Eighty-six percent of the presentations were done in schools with students in grades 6-12. Other presentations were held at community-wide events.

OK2say: Breaking the culture of silence among students 

OK2Say is a student safety initiative operated through a partnership between the Department of Attorney General, Michigan State Police, state agencies, schools, parents, law enforcement, and community leaders available to Michigan students in grades K-12 and enables students to confidentially report potential harm or criminal activities aimed at students, teachers, staff or other school employees. Modeled after Safe2Tell, a Colorado program started after the 1999 Columbine tragedy, OK2Say enables students to confidentially report potential harm or criminal activities aimed at students, teachers, staff or other school employees. By comparison, in Safe2Tell’s first year of operation only 100 tips were reported. Michigan has received 20 times that number in the same time period.

Key Features of OK2Say: 

Confidential Reporting: State law protects the confidentiality of the reporter’s identity. The identity of the reporting party will not be disclosed to local law enforcement, school officials, or the person against whom a tip is offered, unless the reporter voluntarily chooses to disclose his or her identity. However, to address any false reports to the program, prosecutors do have authority to seek a court order to review records when investigating false reports.

-Comprehensive Technology: OK2Say is operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year. The program accepts tips by phone, text message, email, mobile application, and website form, accessible at www.mi.gov/ok2say. Photos, videos and links to additional information are encouraged.

-Coordinated Intervention: Upon receipt of a tip, specially trained OK2Say operators at the Michigan State Police address the immediate need and, as necessary, forward the information to the appropriate responding law enforcement agency or organization. Tips go to schools, local law enforcement agencies, community mental health agencies or the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

-Accountability & Complete Disposition: To ensure tips are acted upon, agencies receiving tips are required to submit outcome reports to the Department of Attorney General. An annual report on the program’s impact will detail the types and numbers of tips handled throughout the year. The 2014 report is available on the Attorney General’s website.

How to Submit a Tip 

Students, teachers, parents, school officials, friends and neighbors can all submit tips, if they are aware of a threat in school. Tips can be submitted though the following ways:

Call: 8-555-OK2SAY (855-565-2729)

Text: 652729 (OK2SAY) *

Email: OK2SAY@mi.gov

Mobile App: Google Play iTunes

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