The Oklahoma City school district is safer today than it was eight months ago, when Rod McKinley was brought in to get a handle on school violence.
“Yes. No question,” said McKinley, Oklahoma City Public Schools chief human resources officer. “I know that we are safer because of the policies that we’re putting in place, because of the personnel we have in place, because of our personnel actually going to the schools and finding out where the problems are, so, yes, we are positively more safe and secure than where we were.”
Since coming on board in November, McKinley has spearheaded a series of changes to improve safety and security, including a move to put police officers on elementary school campuses beginning next month.
Late last month he hired retired Air Force investigator Tim Coleman to oversee district security and former Nichols Hill police officer Josh Landers to head internal investigations for the district.
“Everything we’re doing has to come back and relate directly to the classroom, that’s why were here,” McKinley said.
Before Coleman and Landers, the district had one person in charge of both functions, which was problematic, McKinley said.
“We now have somebody who is actually trained to be able to go out and do a quality investigation,” he said. “Before we’d just have to pick a staff member and say ‘go out and do this investigation.’ And they’re not trained.”
McKinley, who was the 15th chief master sergeant of the Air Force, is not standing pat.
“Are we where we want to go? Not even close,” he said Thursday. “But we’re going to get there. We’re going to continue to improve every day.”
Every aspect of district operations that McKinley oversees will be inspected, he said. Long-standing policies, procedures and programs will be inspected and scrapped or improved, if necessary.
Identifying a contact person for safety and security issues at each school is in the works.
“We’re hiring the right people, starting training programs ...” he said. “The goal is to change the culture of what we’re doing.”
Strengthening relationships with the Oklahoma City police and fire departments also will be a key to success.
“We have to think safety; we never talked about safety before,” he said.
McKinley said he wants to make sure “that we have safe and secure classrooms, so that teachers and students can concentrate on learning.”
CORRECTION: Oklahoma City Public Schools chief human resources officer Rod McKinley was the 15th chief master sergeant of the Air Force. A story on Page 2A listed an incorrect military title for McKinley. (This story has been corrected.)