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.
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.