The Mustang Board of Education approved the hire of Jennifer Newell to fill the new position of Director of School Safety and Security. Newell, a retired officer for the Norman Police Department, has nearly five years as the program manager for the Oklahoma School Security Institute through the Office of Homeland Security.
Interim Superintendent Charles Bradley is thrilled with the board’s decision.
“Many members of leadership with Mustang Schools have had the privilege of working with Jennifer. She has been a voice of expertise for our district for several years,” Bradley said. “Her background and connections are going to take Mustang to the next level in providing safe, secure environments for our students.”
Newell has been a trainer statewide for developing emergency operations plans for K-12 schools, managing risk at athletics and after school activities, crisis team training with the Oklahoma State Department of Education, school response to an armed assailant, bus operator safety and more. She’s conducted 52 risk and vulnerability assessments at public and private schools as well as technology centers. Her training has also included how to prevent crime through environmental design.
For Newell, this position is an opportunity to turn theory into reality.
“I am so honored to havecthis opportunity. It’s just exciting. Obviously, I have a great deal of respect for Mustang Public Schools and have had the opportunity to work closely with the district,” Newell said. “I am excited about this opportunity to take what we have been recommending at the state level and implement it at the local level - to start a program and build it into something that will benefit students.”
Newell’s first course of action in her new role with MPS will be to get to know all 15 of Mustang’s school sites, meet the people and study threats and hazards.
“Obviously I’ll be working with school resource officers from both the Canadian County Sheriff’s Office and Mustang Police Department to continue to build relationships with those law enforcement agencies,” she said.
Long-term, Newell believes there are opportunities for individual districts to learn from each other. Larger school districts may have someone devoted to safety and security, but smaller schools and even those as large as Mustang do not. She hopes to start a consortium for school safety and security officers to discuss issues they’ve faced and share solutions.
“We are trying to reinvent the wheel every time,” she said. “We shouldn’t be doing that.”
At the June board meeting when former Board President Chad Fulton asked for the creation of the position, the board also approved increasing the number of CCSO school resource officers on the north side of the district from two to three and to maintain two resource officers from the Mustang Police Department on the south side of the district. The board also voted to look at third party agencies to increase the security presence across the district. While the district has had conversations with a third party company, Bradley wants Newell to be highly involved in the selection process.
“Jennifer has the background and expertise to analyze the needs of the district and then make the best recommendation possible to the board,” Bradley said. “I believe with Jennifer on board, working with our principals, teachers, staff and community, Mustang is going to be transformed into the flagship for what it means to have a secure, yet welcoming campus.”