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Birmingham Superintendent to Weigh In On School Safety, Gun Violence at County Hearing

Superintendent Daniel Nerad will speak during the Oakland County Board of Commissioners' informational hearing Tuesday, "Curbing Gun Violence."

Birmingham Public Schools Superintendent Daniel Nerad will speak at a special hearing on gun violence and school safety at Tuesday's meeting of the Oakland County Board of Commissioners.

Nerad, along with superintedents from Lake Orion, South Lyon and Walled Lake, will speak during the informational hearing, "Curbing Gun Violence," beginning at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday in Pontiac.

The hearings are part of County Commissioners Bill Dwyer (R-14th District) and Marcia Gershenson's (D-13th District) .

Tuesday's hearings, however — the second in Dwyer and Gershenson's five-part series — will focus on school safety and what Oakland County can learn from the shootings in Newtown, CT and Columbine, CO.

"Kids cannot learn unless they feel safe," Dwyer, a former Farmington Hills police chief, said in a statement. "Oakland County schools are on the front lines for protecting our most innocent every day and we want to find out how we can use county, federal and state resources to help."

"Gun violence has escalated over the years and was not a major focus when I was in the classroom," said Gershenson, a former teacher. "However, that has changed and we need government, law enforcement and the educational community to be working together, sharing experiences and ideas."

Birmingham Public Schools is no stranger to aggressive safety measures. At the end of February, the Birmingham Board of Education formally adopted a new set of security measures and protocols originally introduced after the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting.

Beginning this May, every Birmingham school in the district will be equipped with a "visitor notification system," which will replace the unarmed security guards installed at every school since January.

In addition, the district also decided in January to lock all school doors during the day.

A big part of the district's plans, however, lays with fostering a culture of respect among teachers and students, ensuring that everyone feels safe in the classroom.

"At the end of the day, it has to be our collective commitment to make sure we have good culture," Nerad told the school board. "That has to be our community commitment."

Tuesday's meeting begins at 11:30 a.m. — with the informational hearing following regular agenda items — in Committee Room A at the county's main offices, located at 1200 Telegraph Rd. in Pontiac.

The next three hearings on gun violence will feature representatives from the U.S. Attorney General's office, the FBI, ATF and the Michigan State Police. Also represented will be mental health professionals and Second Amendment supporters.

The dates for the upcoming hearings, to be held in April and May, have not yet been announced.

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