Frequently Asked Questions

Q:  Where do we even start?
A:  Every safety and security plan has its own weaknesses. Whether you support metal detectors, an Emergency Response System per the Indiana Department of Homeland Security as defined by Public Law 27, (which is what we are advocating for), or whether you support something else, the bottom line is we cannot have meaningful changes until we first admit that we need more! We need to put all ideas on the table, examine each and every one of them and expose their weaknesses. We then need to bridge these gaps to make our children, faculty, and staff less vulnerable and also better equip our SRO's to prevent mass casualty situations or a repeat of the shootings that took place at Noblesville West Middle School on May 25, 2018.
Q:  Why not just hire more SRO's (Student Resource Officers/Police Officers)?
A:  We believe SRO's provide an invaluable layer of security and safety, and we greatly love and appreciate our SRO's. We want to give them the very best tools available! Giving them a response plan that includes an emergency response system as identified by the Department of Homeland Security guidelines, equips them with a "bulletproof vest“ of information and real-time communication. As fantastic as our SRO's are, they simply cannot be everywhere at all times! It's just not possible. In the recent shooting at Santa Fe, there were two armed student resource officers. The shooter was waiting for one of them and shot him when he rounded the corner. The student resource officers did all they could in Santa Fe, and responded as fast as they could, but they arrived after 10 people lost their lives. In Parkland, having a student resource officer on campus did not save any lives. Here in Noblesville, our SRO’s Are amazing! The SRO that was on the Noblesville west campus did everything he was supposed to do. He responded as fast as he could however,  again, he cannot be everywhere at all times and the active shooter at our school had already been (thankfully), disarmed by Mr. Seaman by the time our SRO arrived on scene. We are indebted to our SRO and owe it to him to give him an Emergency Response System that meets all DHS Guidelines.
Q:  Why not just purchase metal detectors?
A:  All “solutions“ have their weaknesses. 
When speaking to Thor Eells, the National Tactical Officers Association Executive Director and recognized top expert in the nation on school shootings, we talked about metal detectors. He said metal detectors aren’t necessarily “bad,“ it’s just that they have multiple weaknesses that need to be exposed and looked at.
For Example:
1. We would need multiple metal detectors at multiple different points of entry in order to facilitate incoming students.
2. Each detector would need at least 3 trained staff.
3. Metal detectors beep a lot which can lead to complacency.
4. It is difficult to get students through efficiently, and can result in large groups of kids “pooling” around the detectors which equals larger target for potential shooter.
5. Staggered school start times.
6. National independent security experts have shared multiple ways to breach a metal detector (which we will not publicly share in the interest of safety).
     
With the Emergency Response System* we are advocating for the obvious weakness is the scenario that played out at NWMS Friday, May 25. I asked the National Executive Director of SWAT how this could have been prevented. He indicated that every system has its own weakness. You have to look at how best to mitigate and breach these weaknesses and you have to look at the most effective way to decrease mass casualties. It is important that whatever safety initiatives are chosen, that there are various "layers" of security measures.  At Shelby County they have several protocols in place.  Pass periods between classes are longer which ensures students have enough time to do what they need to do (go to the bathroom, go to their locker,etc.), between every class. So, there should be very very few people who have to leave during class for any reason. I mentioned to him that eventually someone was going to have to leave to go to the locker or something, and in this case he said that someone could accompany the student to where they need to be so that unaccompanied students in the hallways would not happen. Teachers would not be expected to leave their class to accompany a student. All staff members, from the custodian to the principal are available to escort a student if they have to leave the class during a pass period. All of these individuals also wear a fob that they can activate if necessary. He told me that teachers stand with their doors open and they stand by their doors in the hallway during the entire pass. He said the teachers are constantly scanning the area around them looking at backpacks, students' body language, etc. to see if they can see anything that is in anyway concerning. He said they adhere to this 100% of the time. Naturally, no system is foolproof, and we wish we could somehow combine the two. We are not opposed to metal detectors, however, there are other pragmatic, more effective, and cost effective complementary preventative strategies including early prevention and detection, education, and mental health topics.
Q:  What is Public Law 27?
A: Public Law 27 is an active law in Indiana that gives specific guidelines by the Department of Homeland Security. These guidelines have been identified as 'Best Practice' for safe schools in Indiana.
Q:  What other schools utilize the Emergency Response System as defined by Public Law 27?
A:  Southwestern High School in Shelbyville, Indiana and Pike County Schools. Several other school districts around the state are in the process of advocating for this system to be placed within their schools.
Q:  How will this Emergency Response System be funded?
A:  There are several funding models. There is a taxable parcel funding model, which would cost approximately $9.91 a month (per taxable parcel) that would entirely pay for the system in 60 months. There are no ongoing salary or maintenance costs. It is important to note that this figure of $9.91/month, the price of Netflix each month, is to outfit ALL 10 of Noblesville Schools with this life saving, cutting edge Emergency Response System. Communities can also, of course, pass a referendum. 
 
 
Noblesville can also partnership with local businesses to fundraise and garner community support. Business owners in this town would love to help make Noblesville Schools safer!  There are grants and subsidies available to help defray cost, and our own Congresswoman Susan Brooks passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2018, which included legislation known as the STOP School Violence Act, which will authorize nearly $1 billion for matching grant programs through the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) through 2028. Even Gov. Eric Holcomb is asking the Indiana legislature for an extra $5 million for school security grants.
Q:  What organizations and recognized experts endorse the Department of Homeland Security guidelines found in this Emergency Response System?
A:  Indiana Department of Homeland Security; Indiana State Attorney General, Curtis Hill; National Tactical Officers Association; Indiana Department of Education; Indiana Sheriff’s Association, Stephen Luce, Executive Director of Indiana's Sheriff's Association; Mike Kersey, Deputy Sheriff and Multi-Jurisdictional SWAT Team Leader, Montgomery County; Indiana School Resource Officer Association; National Association for School Resource Officers; Indiana Superintendents Association; Indiana Teachers Association; Indiana Association of Chiefs of Police; Indiana Fire Chief’s Association 
 
Q:  What is Michael Duell's position on Noblesville Teachers, and their request for compensation competitive with neighboring school districts?
A:  I am an educator, who has been a classroom teacher at the secondary and postsecondary level, has earned a Master of Education from The Ohio State University, and has served as a faculty supervisor at Western Governors University’s (WGU Indiana) Teachers College the last eight years, which the National Council on Teacher Quality has ranked in the 99th percentile in the nation, and WGU also leads the nation in producing STEM teachers. I offer this to demonstrate that my support of teachers goes beyond paying “lip service,” saying what is politically expedient, to acknowledge that it is in fact my personal and professional calling. I fully support my colleagues teaching in Noblesville Schools, and genuinely believe that their salaries should be more competitive with those in surrounding districts. Retaining and recruiting teachers is a “hot topic” in light of recent events, but frankly, it’s always been vitally important to the health of any school district. I’ve been a classroom teacher, having experienced the recruitment process and also finding my calling to teach at odds with where I was teaching. Prior to more recent and welcomed public opportunities to address the teacher compensation disparity between Noblesville and our neighboring districts, I was already witnessing its impact in my own home.  My daughter came home from NWMS one day last year sad because she learned that one of her favorite teachers was leaving Noblesville to go to Carmel because they were offering him around $10,000 more than Noblesville.  He is one of those teachers I greatly appreciate and admire, as both a parent and as an educator, and I was disappointed and frustrated for Noblesville to be losing such a treasure. It’s critical that we are in a position to recruit great new teachers, and retain proven and valued veteran teachers; and providing compensation competitive with our neighboring school districts is both necessary and right. 
 
Q:  During one of her recent Facebook Live videos concerning the referendum, Dr. Beth Niedermeyer stated, "Administrator salaries remain competitive, however, teacher salaries have not." What's Michael's take on this given the the aforementioned concerns regarding competitive teacher compensation?
A:  Although I find this concerning, I sincerely appreciate Beth's candor and transparency in her disclosure.  Being an advocate for our teachers, I would entertain a possible temporary administrative pay freeze until our teachers have also attained competitive salaries.
 
Q:  What is Michael Duell's view and position on bullying?
A:  Noblesville Schools reported ZERO incidents of bullying at the High School for the 2017-2018 school year to the Department of Education even though this reporting is mandatory. Although I would love nothing more than to believe that we in Noblesville have overcome bullying, I've spoken to many parents and have heard many heartbreaking and frustrating accounts of bullying, and those expressed concerns falling on the deaf ears of administrators. The following constitutes the reported incidents of bullying in Noblesville Schools for the 2017-2018 school year:

  • 1 incident of physical bullying at Promise Road Elementary. Zero incidents at all other schools

  • 3 incidents reported of verbal bullying at East middle school. Zero reported for all other schools.

  • 1 reported incident of social bullying at West. ZERO reported at all other schools.

  • 3 incidents of electronic bullying at Hinkle Creek and 1 reported at Noblesville Crossing. Zero reported for all other schools including the middle schools and the high school.

  • ZERO reported incidents of combination types of bullying at all 10 schools.

  • ZERO bullying incidents of ANY KIND reported at the High School.

I will endeavor to work with our administration and school board to address and rectify the ongoing concern of bullying, and seek to partner directly with the Indiana Department of Education to amend and/or develop administrative best practices, ensure proper understanding and adherence of reporting bullying incidents, and the serious consequences that will arise if this is not taken seriously. Inadequate reporting isn’t just “bad bookkeeping,” but causes devastating consequences to our children and can, and should, result in serious consequences for administration. Accountability is essential to help equip both teachers and parents alike to truly address bullying, knowing they will be heard and supported by that school’s administrator. Knowing that bullying is no longer just “lip service,” and that such concerns will actually be taken seriously and acted upon, will empower students to report it knowing they won’t be quickly dismissed and ignored. Also, it will send a clear message to bullies that Noblesville Schools will no longer turn a blind eye to their actions, and that there will be repercussions to bullying. I do believe that publicly addressing ongoing bullying concerns, taking it from out of the darkness and putting it squarely in the light for all to see will further help to ensure accountability, as human nature teaches us that people tend to act and react differently when they believe someone is watching; and for far too long no one has been watching. Reporting bullying to the Department Of Education is mandatory, ethical, and it’s about time we start enforcing REAL anti-bullying policies. We need increased accountability of our administration and school board. Our children deserve nothing less.

Q:  Resolved by SOS Noblesville advocacy! Use of portable classrooms has been discontinued. Why is there an expressed concern about the use of portable classrooms?
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
A:  Our children are exposed and cannot be protected adequately. Our bare minimum safety expectation is that our children will be in brick and mortar classrooms. There is room within the school walls for every child grades K through 12. We agree with all independent, national and state experts who, for obvious reasons, recommend all children at a bare minimum have a classroom INSIDE the school building. Currently, there are four trailers (portable classrooms) being utilized by Noblesville schools. There are also 6 Little Miller (FOR-PROFIT) preschools located within the school buildings. (There is a seventh preschool classroom which services special needs children. We are 100% committed to keeping this 7th classroom.) While we are huge advocates for preschool, Indiana law does not mandate that Indiana offer preschool. Little Miller Preschools charge $190 per seat, per week, per child. The elementary school students, for whom the elementary school building was approved and constructed, are being forced into the portables, and have no voice as their parents tax dollars have already been collected. We must really question why we are selling our kids' safety/security for $190 per week?  Questions about this for-profit preschool, and the displacing of elementary school students from their elementary school building to accommodate this revenue building initiative are valid and need to be addressed before the start of the school year this August.  If national law enforcement experts agree that portable classrooms should not be utilized if it all possible, why then is Noblesville schools continuing to use them? The Superintendent expressed to us that the demographic study that was conducted several years ago shows higher numbers of enrollment in grades 4 and 5. We asked both the superintendent and Kevin Kalstad if they had relayed to the firm doing the demographic study that they were going to utilize 6 indoor classrooms for preschool. They admitted to our parent representatives that they had not disclosed this information to the firm conducting the demographic study.  This is critical because 6 indoor classrooms equates to an entire grade level and shows the demographic study was flawed from the outset. If you want or demand answers from those who serve our community and our students, please contact Beth Niedermeyer.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Q: Resolved by SOS Noblesville advocacy! The Noblesville Administration has finally agreed to an Independent Threat Assessment. At present, we have not yet received confirmation of its completion.  Why hasn't there been an Independent Threat Assessment?
 
A:  SOS Noblesville has been asking for an Independent Threat Assessment (ITA) since the Parkland massacre in February, months before the May 25 shooting. An ITA is vital and essential, because this independent third party comes in and assesses all of the school structures for potential threats. An ITA also assesses how effective proposed safety protocols and safety measures are in response to the identified threats. The Administration initially stated an ITA was not necessary, with Mark Booth noting that an ITA had been conducted sometime in 2014. When pressed for documentation, we were then told that maybe it was in 2013, and was a "risk assessment," and not an Independent Threat Assessment. The Administration reversed its stance after continued advocacy by SOS Noblesville and by many within the community in the wake of the shooting. We have been informed that an ITA will be conducted, but have yet to receive any confirmation that this has been done. Arguably, by not proactively conducting an ITA months ago, opting for one only sometime soon, the Administration has put the proverbial cart before the horse. When student, staff, and faculty safety is at stake, and there’s a $50 million referendum already on the ballot, the opportunity to utilize this essential information citing identified risks to propose comprehensive, effective, and prudent safety measures has been missed, and it runs the risk of creating fixes for things that aren’t broken, and missing opportunities needing addressed to better safeguard our schools. For example, on the “Miller Yes” website, the administration states, "A gun detection dog for every school." However, we’ve recently been told that administration is now only considering 3 dogs for the entire district. When SOS Noblesville spoke to the Chief Canine Instructor at Vapor Wake Dogs, we were told each Noblesville school would need a minimum of 2 dogs for this “solution” to be effective, equating to needing approximately 20 dogs. An ITA would have proactively recognized this issue, avoiding confusion and unforeseen additional costs.
 
 
Q:  "Everything worked. Everyone was prepared." Is this objectively true feedback about the established system in place?
A:  The ongoing messaging is still stating that everything worked and our current safety protocols are effective.  Yes, teachers and staff members did everything they could with the limited tools we have given them. Each and every one of them is amazing and we owe them a debt of gratitude. However, the only reason this did not turn into a Parkland Florida massacre is because a 6’4" former collegiate defensive lineman HERO of a teacher stepped in front of three bullets! (Unless that is part of the protocol.)  The SRO (School Police Officer), through no fault of his own, arrived only after it was over, as he cannot be everywhere at all times.  Additionally, contrary to the messaging template, not "everything worked."  The first and only announcement notifying everyone in NWMS there was an active shooter indicated that it was taking place in the "Seventh Grade Hallway," when in fact it was happening in an entirely different place, the "Science Hallway" (in a seventh grade Science classroom).  Our SRO responded and did the best he could with the tools he had. We need to give him better tools!
 
 
 
Additionally, a student who had been out of the class at the time didn't know where to go, and wandered into the Science Hallway, unbeknownst to the student of the danger ahead. She frantically went from classroom to classroom looking for shelter but could find none, as all the classrooms were locked. Again, was this part of the plan?  
Without question, the heroic actions of Mr. Seaman saved lives, and his willingness to sacrifice himself so that his students may live is the only reason why anyone can even attempt to spin that this "incident" was successfully addressed through everything working and everyone knowing what to do.
Thor Eells, National Tactical Officers Association Executive Director, and an ALICE instructor, noted you can’t only have ALICE.  Mr. Eells posed a question to serve as a litmus test.  Instead of Mr. Seaman, think of the teacher who is the smallest in stature, oldest, or pregnant, putting that person in Mr. Seaman’s place. Can you confidently say that the outcome would have been the same?  If you cannot guarantee the same outcome, we need a better plan.
Q:  All of the following law enforcement organizations and individuals endorse an Emergency Response System that complies with the Indiana Department of Homeland Security Guidelines found in Public Law 27:
 
*The Indiana Sheriff's Association
*Indiana Department of Homeland Security
*Indiana State Attorney General, Curtis Hill
*Indiana School Resource Officer Association
*National Association for School Resource Officers
*Indiana Association of Chiefs of Police
*National Tactical Officers Association Executive Director, Thor Eells
*Stephen Luce, Executive Director of Indiana's Sheriff's Association
 
What is Noblesville Chief of Police Kevin Jowitt's position relative to those of the nation's and state's top law enforcement experts?
A:  I would recommend respectfully asking Kevin Jowitt. 317-776-6340, npd@noblesville.in.us.
Q:  In addition to the aforementioned experts in law enforcement and the Indiana Fire Chief's Association, the following education organizations also endorse an Emergency Response System that complies with the Indiana Department of Homeland Security Guidelines found in Public Law 27:
 
*Indiana Department of Education
*Indiana Superintendents Association 
*Indiana Teachers Association
*Indiana Principals Association
 
What is Beth Niedermeyer and the Noblesville School Board's position relative to these state and national level education organizations and law enforcement experts?
A:  I'd advise attending the next school board meeting on October 23 to respectfully ask Dr. Niedermeyer and the Board members.
Q:  When and where is the next Noblesville School Board Meeting?
A:  The next School Board meeting will be held at the Noblesville Schools Educational Services Center located on 18025 River Road, Tuesday, October 23rd at 7:00 pm.  You can exercise your right to speak for three minutes during open forum if you sign up prior to 7:00 pm that evening.  You do not need to have a child to speak, just a heart for and genuine interest in the safety of our students, staff, and faculty in Noblesville Schools.
Q:  Where can I sign the S.O.S. Noblesville Petition?
A:  Support Safer Noblesville Schools Petition
Q:  Is SOS Noblesville endorsing any candidates for the School Board November 6?
A:  We are endorsing SOS Noblesville Co-Founder, Michael C. Duell, who will not only advocate for school safety, as he's done since co-founding SOS Noblesville, but he is also a strong advocate and supporter of teachers, and genuinely believes in ensuring they are receiving competitive compensation equal to neighboring districts.  
Q: What is "The Noblesville Difference" Michael Duell has referenced?
A:  As I noted at the Candidate’s Forum, each voice in our community enriches us and ennobles us, and each voice lost or unheard diminishes us. I know that there are varying ideas on how best to address our mutual concerns, but thankfully there are allowances to civilly agree to disagree, which is the beauty of our tried and true electoral system. I tend to avoid oversharing, especially as it pertains to things shared in private conversations, but I’d like to close noting something I shared with Dr. Niedermeyer during a private meeting. As you all know, we’re not the only school that suffered a school shooting in recent months, but I have observed what I have coined, “The Noblesville Difference.” Max Schachter, whose 14 year-old son, Alex, was murdered in Parkland, has partnered with SOS Noblesville, the Indiana Sheriff’s Association, and has essentially taken the same proposal we presented before the Noblesville School Board on March 20 to the national stage in Washington D.C., presenting the “best practices” as outlined by the Indiana Department of Homeland Security to create the “National School Safety Best Practices.” Max has not only been a partner and collaborator with a shared vision to better protect students, staff, and teachers, but he’s become a friend whom I can’t wait to meet someday. He has shared horror stories about all that’s going in in Parkland. Sadly, the tragedy in Parkland has not brought out the best in their community. The School Board has been non-responsive, openly combative, has failed to act, and has even demonstrated incredible insensitivity, with one of their board members declaring this last school year was the best year ever. The community has also been shockingly unsupportive and non-responsive, with a very disappointingly low voter turnout for the school board elections in August, not even supporting parent candidates who lost children that terrible day. Max has been a lightning rod as well, on the receiving end of several painful and personally abusive attacks, even targeting Alex. Much the same has been reported in Santa Fe, especially as it pertains to their School Board. Yet, here in Noblesville, we are talking about workable solutions. We may not all agree on every proposed idea, but the “Noblesville Difference” has been the mobilization of voters, the community's response through civic advocacy, and the incredible outpouring of love and support for all impacted by the shooting. Whereas Parkland and Santa Fe have been further divided by incivility and apathy, Noblesville has instead come together, #NoblesvilleStrong, with genuine love for Jason and Ella, and ongoing thanks given to our teachers, staff, and first responders. I hope this offers you the same consolation it offered Beth and me. I’m proud of Noblesville, and win, lose, or draw this November 6, I will still be here to serve and be part of the change we all want to see. My thanks to all who have embraced and contributed to be the “Noblesville Difference.”
 
 
 
 
*Please note that while I am strongly in support of the Emergency Response System outlined here and proposed to the Noblesville School Board, I am certainly open to considering any and all safety initiatives that meet all of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security guidelines as outlined in Indiana Public Law 27.