School Safety and Security
A Message from the Superintendent:
In the wake of the most recent deadly school shooting in Parkland, FL, many concerned parents of Allegany County Public School students want to know what we’re doing to keep their children safe. While there is never a 100% guarantee that a tragedy will not strike in ACPS, I can assure you that we have very stringent guidelines, protocols, and practices in place in our buildings to help maintain security.
In ACPS, we continue to be focused on school security and safety. As a community, we have many unmet mental health needs, and when something terrible like a school shooting happens, it impacts us all and brings to the surface the need for additional work to be done on mental health.
We work collaboratively with our local law enforcement community and have eight full-time School Resource Officers and safety officers in our school system. Our ratio of School Resource Officers exceeds most Maryland counties and exceeds the ratio that school systems nationally are striving to achieve. Currently, we don’t have a dedicated SRO in each of our buildings; however, the officers that we have are scheduled at all of our schools – a schedule that changes routinely.
In ACPS, we also have controlled entry systems in all of our buildings , and all visitors are required to sign in at the main office upon entering any public school as well as wear a visitor’s badge during their stay in the building. Every school system employee receives ongoing annual training in school safety. We have an emergency planning team in place at each school and at our central office. These individuals receive many hours of specialized training in order to have the ability to write comprehensive critical incident plans that are updated on an annual basis. In addition, schools perform drills for every posture response including lock downs, lock ins, evacuations, reverse evacuations, shelter in place, and drop/cover/hold.
However, I cannot stress enough that the very best line of defense are the eyes and ears of our staff, students, parents, and community members. If you see or hear something that just doesn’t seem right, please say something to someone who has the capacity to act on it immediately and who can affect change. Posting to social media before informing someone who can do something about an issue can be detrimental to keeping students safe as it exposes any vulnerabilities we may have to someone who may wish to do harm.
Finally, please be assured that the safety of our students and staff is the top priority in ACPS. We will continue to participate in trainings and discussions with law enforcement and other agencies so that we are well-prepared to respond to emergency situations to reduce the level of risk and keep our buildings safe.
David A. Cox, Ed.D.Contact Information:Dr. David A. CoxSuperintendent301-759-2037Twitter: @ACPS_SuptDixie HeavenerExecutive Assistant to the Superintendent301-759-2038Superintendent's Senior Staff:
The Superintendent of Schools, as the Executive Officer of the County Board of Education, shall see that the laws relating to schools, the enacted and published bylaws, and policies of the County Board of Education are carried into effect.
In July of 2009, Dr. David A. Cox was appointed as Superintendent of Schools in Allegany County, Maryland. He was reappointed for a third consecutive four-year term in February of 2017.
During his tenure in the Allegany County Public School System, Dr. Cox formed a Community Resource Committee for the Utilization Study of Secondary Schools in Cumberland that was charged with making recommendations to the school board regarding long-range capital improvement priorities for these schools. This has led to the current design and planned construction of a new Allegany High School, which will open in the fall of 2018.
Under Dr. Cox’s leadership, Allegany County Public Schools has increased its graduation rate to above 92%; significantly increased the number of students taking Advanced Placement and College Courses; become home to two additional National Blue Ribbon Schools for a total of three schools with this ranking; established a multiple award-winning Elementary Chinese Immersion Program; implemented Active Learning Labs (ALL) pilot focusing on student engagement in a technology rich environment; and has offered a high quality preschool opportunity to all interested parents.
Currently, Dr. Cox serves as a Region VI Executive Committee Member for AASA, The School Superintendents Organization, where he previously served as the Maryland Representative on the AASA Governing Board. He also serves as an Executive Committee Member for the Public School Superintendents Association of Maryland, following his term as president in 2016-2017. Dr. Cox was also honored as the 2016 Maryland Superintendent of the Year. He was elected by the Vestry of Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Cumberland to serve as Senior Warden, and has been twice elected to the Board of Directors of the Allegany County Chamber of Commerce. Also, Dr. Cox is an active member of the Cumberland Rotary and LaVale Lions Club.
Dr. Cox is outspoken on the consequences to children concerning the opioid crisis, and has given congressional testimony on the specific impacts in Allegany County to the children in public schools. Also, he has been interviewed by several national publications on the topic, including Education Week, and The Nation.
Dr. Cox came to Allegany County with ten years of experience as a superintendent in Virginia. Prior to becoming a superintendent, Dr. Cox served as an assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, an elementary school principal, a middle school assistant principal, and a middle and high school teacher in Virginia, Kansas and Tennessee. Dr. Cox received his Doctorate in Educational Leadership, his Masters of Supervision and Administration, and his Bachelors of Music Education, all from East Tennessee State University in his native Northeast Tennessee.