Democrat members of the Oakland County Commission are dragging their feet on a Pontiac private school’s safety plan, leaving some to wonder if anti-school choice ideology is influencing the inaction.
Notre Dame Preparatory School has had a Memorandum of Agreement with the Oakland County Sheriff’s office for years to provide security for its campus.
“The school has used a combination of police deputies and private security for more than a decade, ever since the tragedy at Sandy Hook elementary,” Head of School Andrew Guest told The Midwesterner. “The private security guards are terrific, but the uniformed deputies and patrol cars act, add a greater level of gravitas and act as a visible deterrent to any potential intruder.”
Guest is seeking to continue the agreement for the next school year with the Oakland sheriff at an annual cost of $160,000, which has the support of Sheriff Michael Bouchard.
“We are 100% self-sufficient and we have agreed to fund our deputy at no cost to the taxpayers,” Guest said.
But Oakland County Commission Chairman Dave Woodward pulled the contract approval from the agenda and has so far been refusing to bring it up for a vote.
“I will deploy that SRO (school resource officer) to the school to protect those kids as soon as the commission approves it,” Bouchard told WXYZ.
Woodward told the news station May 2 that a contract, which was approved by Bouchard in December, will be developed “in the coming weeks,” claiming there are “legal and constitutional issues”.
The former Democrat state representative bristled after Guest wrote a letter to parents explaining the commission’s delay, claiming Guest’s letter was “very misleading and borderline dishonest.”
“I have two daughters and we have other kids and grandkids of commissioners in schools. This commission, more so than most, has put more resources, safety and otherwise, into schools, before and after Oxford,” Woodward said, according to The Oakland Press. “To make any assertion that we will turn a blind on eye on kids’ safety is insulting.”
Woodward, a professional progressive activist, argued the Oakland County sheriff’s department protecting the private school would violate the Michigan constitution, which prohibits public resources from supporting private schools.
Bouchard told the paper “county attorneys have assured (Bouchard) there are no issues.”
“We brought the contract to the county commission and it was on the agenda but pulled without dissent or discussion, without any reasons,” Bouchard told the paper. “These kinds of contracts have existed for decades.”
“It’s nothing different than what we do out there for other entities throughout the county. None of us Commissioners are holding this up. It’s all in Dave Woodward’s lap,” Commissioner Michael Spisz said, according to WXYZ.
“School safety is not a partisan issue. We, being schools, police, and municipalities all need to work together to keep our children safe,” Guest told The Midwesterner.
“We need to encourage our political leaders to work together on the issue of school safety. Our country is too divided right now. Everyone has a voice. That’s the American way. We need to make ourselves aware of issues and hold our elected officials accountable. People have more power than they think.”