Articles in the Crisis Management category

NSBA offers sympathies for victims in school stabbing incident

According to news reports, a teenage student went on a stabbing rampage at Franklin Regional Senior High School in Murrysville, Pa., seriously injuring at least 20 people. At the request of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) released the following statement on April 9:

“Our deepest sympathies go out to the 20 students and staff seriously injured in today’s stabbing rampage at Franklin Regional Senior High in Murrysville,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “As the police, school and local community begin to piece together facts on what led to this horrific crime, it is important to emphasize how rapidly the school district mobilized to keep district students at all levels – middle, high school, and elementary – safe.”

“While such violence is unimaginable, parents, families and the Pittsburgh community should take comfort in the rapid responses of the school principal and the school resource officer to contain the high school sophomore identified as the suspect. While America’s public schools are still one of the safest places we can send our children, this shows why when the unimaginable occurs, having strong safety plans and procedures in place has the power to save lives and protect communities.”

 

 

Joetta Sack-Min|April 9th, 2014|Categories: Announcements, Crisis Management, School Climate, School Security, State School Boards Associations|Tags: , , , , |

Sandy Hook tragedy teaches lessons on school security

Thomas J. Gentzel, the Executive Director of the National School Boards Association (NSBA), reflected on the first anniversary of the Dec. 14, 2012 school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. with this statement:

“The tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary one year ago shook the nation. Our hearts go out to the families and friends who lost loved ones and to all those in Newtown who were affected on that horrific day.

“One year later, the nation continues to memorialize the 26 adults and children who were killed at the school, support their survivors, grieve, and move forward. For school board members, the urgency of making schools around the country safer and more responsive to future threats is an ongoing imperative and legacy of the Newtown shootings.

“As part of their duties, school boards must ensure that school buildings keep children and school personnel safe without becoming fortresses. In cases of natural disasters and man-made situations, school buildings – equipped with high-occupancy gymnasiums and cafeterias – are often the first shelter, serving as community safe havens and command posts. School boards recognize that even the best emergency preparedness policy is perishable, and they are monitoring and improving their districts’ policies on a routine basis.

“School districts can ensure that parents and the community have a clear and actionable understanding of emergency response plans. One example is parental notification – to clear the path for first responders and their emergency vehicles, parents are often directed to a designated area away from the school where they can safely receive real-time updates.

“Since the Sandy Hook tragedy, there has been much debate on whether armed security guards should be used to protect the nation’s schools, or whether teachers or other school staff should be armed. In cases when a community deems school security is essential, NSBA believes that only sheriff’s deputies and police officers should be hired as school resource officers. Trained to deploy their weapons in the safest way possible and to take action that minimizes collateral damage, sheriff’s deputies and police officers have ‘qualified immunity’ that affords school districts the legal protection they need in case of any unintended consequences that could arise in carrying out their duties.

“As we approach this first anniversary, NSBA joins world and national leaders, state and local governments, community leaders, and people across the country in remembering those affected by the Sandy Hook tragedy. Times like these give us great pause because they remind us not only of the fragility of life but also of the bravery and resilience shown by Newtown’s teachers and school administrators, the students and parents, and the first responders on Dec. 14, 2012. Our nation’s 90,000 school board members will honor them as we continue our efforts to educate and protect our school children and school personnel who work in America’s public schools each day.”

 

Joetta Sack-Min|December 11th, 2013|Categories: Bullying, Crisis Management, Environmental Issues, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, Policy Formation, School Buildings, School Climate, School Security|Tags: , , , , , |

New on ASBJ.com: Disaster preparation and recovery

Seven schoolchildren, along with their teacher and her baby, died when a tornado ripped through their school building in Moore, Okla., in May.  This deadly storm, ferocious even by Tornado Alley standards, devastated the town and the school district.

ASBJ communications columnist Nora Carr was on the ground in Moore after the storms.  She documents the physical and emotional aftermath of the storm   in this issue’s cover story,  “Storm Recovery in Oklahoma,”  online now at ASBJ.com.

Also in the November/December issue, Senior Editor Lawrence Hardy takes a look at how school security has changed in the year since the Newtown, Conn., school shootings.

NSBA’s “advocate-in-chief”  (and ASBJ’s On the Hill columnist) Michael A. Resnick is retiring after a 44 years. Read his perspective on how times have changed in the national education arena in our interview.

While you’re on ASBJ.com, check out our bonus articles and vote in our Adviser poll.

 

 

Kathleen Vail|November 20th, 2013|Categories: American School Board Journal, Crisis Management, Legislative advocacy, NSBA Publications, School Security|Tags: , , , , |

Oklahoma State School Boards Association helps tornado-torn district recover

Tornados are a fact of life in Oklahoma. That’s especially true in the central and western portions of the state, which belong to a region that includes parts of nine states and is dubbed “Tornado Alley.” Shaped, fittingly, like a cylinder, it stretches north from Texas to South Dakota and is the area of the country where tornados are among the most numerous and severe.

The town of Moore, south of Oklahoma City, is in the heart of Tornado Alley. Its residents are familiar with the storms and the damage they can cause. But nothing could prepare residents for two major tornados that hit the town in 14 years: the first in May of 1999; the second, this past Monday.

The May 3, 1999, tornado killed 36 people. In mid-afternoon on Monday, May 20, another tornado killed 24 people and destroyed 13,000 structures, including the district headquarters of the Moore Public Schools and two of its elementary school buildings. At Plaza Towers Elementary School, where teachers herded student into hallways and bathrooms, seven children died.

Right after the most recent storm, the Oklahoma State School Boards Association (OSSBA) began accepting gifts of school supplies at its Oklahoma City headquarters, as well as monetary gifts for the stricken district, said Jeff B. Mills, a former superintendent and OSSBA’s executive director. Mills spoke with ASBJ Senior Editor Lawrence Hardy on May 22, two days after the most recent storm hit.

How is OSSBA helping?

[We’re] just trying to be a resource for them. Many of their phone lines and cell phone services are down. They can’t get their e-mail, either. Just offering support, prayers — anything they need.

How is the district coping?

Their administration building was destroyed. Their records, fortunately, are off site; but when you’ve got your computer down, you feel helpless. But if you have your whole administration building down, it’s very difficult. It’s definitely a struggle. They’re trying to move on. They’re going to go ahead with their graduation this weekend. And they’ll deal with the losses that they have and start rebuilding.

What’s been the response to the drop off site for school supplies?

There’s been an unbelievable outpouring. We’ve got a truck coming from Nebraska tomorrow. We’ve got a couple of trailers that have been loaded up down around Florida coming this way, and just from all over the country. People just are hurting for Moore and wanting to do something, and we wanted to make sure we were able be an outlet for them.

We’re working with Feed the Children here in Oklahoma City to help distribute immediate needs like water and Gatorade bottles, diapers, hand sanitizers, gloves — those types of things we get in. But the school supplies we’ll store for the district and then hold back until they’re ready to receive them, because the last thing they need is us showing up with a truckload of pens and pencils right now. But they’ll need them in the fall.

Have you been to Moore since the tornado?

No. You can’t unless you’re a state official or a first responder — or actually live there.

As a former Oklahoma superintendent, have you ever dealt with anything like this?

No, I never did. Of course we had storm issues — we always do in Oklahoma. Nothing like this. When it hit [Moore] in ’99, the schools weren’t in session; they were already out for the day. It destroyed some schools, and they had to be rebuilt. Basically, [the most recent storm] traveled the same path. The big thing that’s happened in Moore since ’99 is just a huge growth spurt, not only in housing but in retail. The area that it came through, it followed that same path — there’s been a lot of lot of expansion in retail, highway frontage, building activity that is basically gone.

What are some of the challenges facing school board member in the coming months?

I think just the overwhelming idea that, “I’ve got to deal with all of this.” It’s not just one area, one issue. And then the things that will linger once the kids come back and classmates are gone or staff members are gone. They’ll be, I’m sure, a lot of counseling hours, and then just rebuilding. It’ll be a challenge, but they are a very strong board. The members are very dedicated and focused on what they need for the children.

How will the state respond in the long term?

We’ve faced things like this before in Oklahoma, just like other states deal with tragedy.  And we’ve always come out of it in a positive way. We’ll rebuild and start over. People are very resilient here, and they’re going to focus on what they can do for their kids. And we’re going to be there to support the schools and their board, and anything we can do to make that happen we’re going to do.

For information on how to contribute to OSSBA’s efforts for Moore, go here.

ASBJ has compiled an anthology of articles on disaster recovery for school districts, available in hard copy or as a downloadable PDF. Purchasing information is available here.

Lawrence Hardy|May 24th, 2013|Categories: American School Board Journal, Crisis Management, School Boards, School Buildings, State School Boards Associations|Tags: , , |

Oklahoma school boards group seeks donations for tornado-ravaged schools

The Oklahoma State School Boards Association (OSSBA) is collecting donations of money and school supplies to help the school districts that were devastated by Monday’s Category 5 tornado in Moore, Okla.

To donate, go to OSSBA’s website to view a list of needed items or to make a contribution online.

The website notes, “When members of our OSSBA family are hurting, we are all hurting. We would like to offer an opportunity for those wishing to give to have an outlet to do so.”

At least 24 people, including 10 children and infants, were killed, according to the Washington Post. Seven of those children were inside an elementary school.

Joetta Sack-Min|May 22nd, 2013|Categories: Announcements, Crisis Management, State School Boards Associations|Tags: , , |

New NSBA President David Pickler takes office in midst of change

David A. Pickler

David A. Pickler knows about change.

His career has evolved from business to law to financial planning and accounting.  As a member of the Shelby County, Tenn. school board, Pickler is in the midst of a massive merger with Memphis City Schools that will drastically change the demographics and operations of the school district.

So as Pickler becomes NSBA’s 2013-14 President at the Third General Session this afternoon, he has plans to help NSBA become a “change agent,” and a stronger, more responsive organization. Working with NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel, he wants NSBA to become a reform leader and an even greater proponent for public education.

“Our responsibility is to lead the conversation, forge the alliances with core stakeholders, and bring forward a powerful message,” Pickler says.

As a member of the organization’s board of directors, he has been lending his expertise as a financial planner and attorney to NSBA in recent years. C. Ed Massey, NSBA’s 2012-13 President, said he and Pickler have worked together very closely over the past year and he expects a seamless transition.

“David has the requisite communication skills and certainly the knowledge to make sure we keep NSBA on track as we continue to promote our advocacy about public education in multiple ways,” Massey says. Further, “at a time where finances are a consistent and constant challenge, his particular skill set will assist NSBA.”

After graduating from Arkansas State University and working for International Paper in Dallas for one year, Pickler joined the Xerox Corp. and began attending law school at night. He intended to specialize in corporate law, but two and a half years in was offered a promotion by Xerox that would have forced him to give up a legal career. Instead, he decided to look for a job in finance—and after a series of cold calls to brokerage firms, he took a job with PaineWebber.

By the time he graduated law school in December 1985, Pickler had already built a successful financial planning business. The next year, he passed the bar exam and began practicing law on the side.

The two careers finally merged in 2005, when Pickler opened his own wealth management firm, Pickler Wealth Advisors. Two years later, he opened The Pickler Law Firm, and in January, 2012, founded Pickler Accounting Advisors.

“Our motto is, we bring it all together,” Pickler says. “It’s a very holistic model of services for our clients, one of very few organizations in country.”

Pickler has been named to Barron’s Magazine’s list of the country’s top financial planners, and the trade magazine Registered Rep awarded Pickler its highest honor, the “Altruism Award,” in 2011 for his work with children, calling him “the children’s advocate.”

With his wife Beth, he became involved with the Shelby County district through the PTAs at his two children’s schools. He ran for the county’s first elected school board in 1998, and served as board chairman from 1999 to 2011.

“Our board has really strongly advocated for traditional values,” Pickler says. For instance, when he realized many classrooms did not have an American flag, he convinced FedEx Corp. and its founder Fred Smith to donate a flag for each of the district’s 50 schools and 1000 classrooms. The board also passed a policy to ensure each day begins with a moment of silence and the Pledge of Allegiance.

In 2001, Shelby County became the first large district to mandate every school have an active and empowered PTA.

“Districts like ours were significantly underfunded,” Pickler said. “We wanted to send a message to principals that parent engagement is an essential ingredient to student achievement.”

In 2011, the Shelby County board found itself in the midst of an unprecedented merger when the Memphis City board voted 5-4 to give up the city’s charter for a special school district. The move meant the suburban 47,000-student Shelby County district would be responsible for educating 103,000 new students, a population that was 85 percent African-American and with many living in poverty.

Logistically, the challenges have been enormous, and many more challenges remain, Pickler says. A merged school board now has 23 members to manage two systems. Both the Memphis and Shelby County superintendents have resigned in recent months and hundreds of teachers and staff have chosen to retire or leave. The merger will be completed at the start of the 2013-14 school year.

Most recently, the Tennessee legislature is expected to approve a measure that would allow all the incorporated towns in Shelby County to create their own school districts, and as many as six are expected to apply.

Throughout the difficult process, Pickler said he has tried to focus on student achievement and issues that will unite the many “wonderful, passionate people who really care about public education in our communities.” A lesson learned, he says, is that “monumental decisions should not be made by small majorities.”

Outside his school board work and professional career, Pickler loves sports. An avid racquetball player and huge St. Louis Cardinals baseball fan, he has been a Dallas Cowboys season ticket holder for over a quarter century. He also describes himself as a voracious reader, with a particular interest in American history.

He also chairs the board of directors for the Memphis Oral School for the Deaf, a school that teaches deaf children from birth to age 5 to “listen, learn and talk.”

“This miraculous place gives deaf and profound hearing loss children the gift of sound and speech, and empowers them to enter school as a non-special needs student and look forward to a life of limitless possibilities,” Pickler noted. His wife, Beth, is a longtime volunteer at the school.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|April 15th, 2013|Categories: Board governance, Conferences and Events, Crisis Management, Governance, Leadership, Legislative advocacy, NSBA Annual Conference 2013, School Boards|Tags: , |

9/12 documentary focuses on disaster recovery

When representatives of service learning project showed a 45-minute film Sunday that focused on the value of helping others recover from disaster, there were sniffles around the room at NSBA’s 2013 Annual Conference.

Some of the tears belonged to Janice Nelson, president of the District 408 school board in Auburn, Wash.

“I thought it was powerful,” Nelson said. “I can see its application.”

“I’m excited to bring this information back to our school district,” said her fellow board member, Carol Seng.

The concept being promoted by a group called the 9/12 Generation Project is simple. Organizers want every school district to show their documentary film, called New York Says Thank You, to students on the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. They recommend this be followed by small discussion groups, and by a service project on 9/12.

Mia Toschi of the 9/12 Generation Project noted that the film does not contain any images or references to airplanes flying into buildings because that information could be frightening or disturbing to some children. Rather, the film focuses on 9/12 – the day the nation pulled together to heal, clean up and begin to rebuild.

The film focuses in part on New York City firefighters who feel an obligation to repay all the people who helped New York recover from 9/11 by aiding victims of natural disasters.

For instance, firefighters and others from New York City went to Greensburg, Kansas to help rebuild a 4-H Center destroyed in a tornado.

Firefighters explain how participating in disaster recovery projects has been rewarding and meaningful for them, and school children who also participated echo those remarks. One firefighter states that performing service for other Americans is an expression of patriotism in its truest form.

Resources are available at www.912GenerationProject.org. The project is affiliated with the New York Says Thank You Foundation, which also has brought a flag from the World Trade Center site to all 50 states and, most recently, the San Diego Convention Center. NSBA President-Elect Anne Byrne of New York contributed a stitch on behalf of the organization.

— Eric Randall

Erin Walsh|April 14th, 2013|Categories: Crisis Management, NSBA Annual Conference 2013|

Lessons learned from disaster: Joplin and Aurora

As school leaders, John Barry and C.J. Huff have faced the worst types of nightmares.

For Huff, it was the Category 5 tornado that struck Joplin, Mo., in May 2011, resulting in 161 deaths, destroying several schools, and causing more damage than any natural disaster in U.S. history. Fourteen months later, in July 2012, Barry faced the aftermath of a shooter who walked into a packed movie theatre in Aurora, Colo., killing 12 and injuring 58 before he was arrested.

The two superintendents discussed their experiences, the aftermath, and the lessons learned in a Saturday afternoon session at NSBA’s annual conference.

“It’s an unfortunate reality of what we have to deal with in this day and age,” Barry said. “Since 9/11, we remember defining events by dates. Ours was 7/20; C.J.’s was 5/22.”

Barry spent most of his time discussing the district’s preparation for a possible disaster and how that helped Aurora in the aftermath of the shooting, which occurred just two weeks before school started. He said the creation and training of an Incident Response Team was critical in preparing for the aftermath.

“This was a very traumatized community in our school district,” he said. “… The adjustment problems are nearly universal.”

In the immediate aftermath, Barry said the district focused on four key messages: “Our schools are safe. We have a plan. You are not alone. We care.” Aurora also had grade-specific talking points, hired a recovery coordinator to work with mental health, faith-based and community groups, and continues to provide support for its students.

Huff, a finalist for National Superintendent of the Year, became emotional at times as he looked back at the tornado and its devastating impact on the community. He showed security footage taken as the storms destroyed Joplin High School, and talked about efforts to account for staff and students in the aftermath. The district’s vision statement, which had resulted in the largest graduation class in Joplin’s history just before the tornado struck, “had to be recreated” on the fly.

Summer school started on time. And in 87 days, on Aug. 17, schools reopened — one in a converted mall store, one in a remodeled industrial park, one in a previously closed campus. “Most important,” Huff said, “we took care of our kids, staff, and community.”

The reopening of schools was “one of the most fantastic days of my professional career,” Huff said, noting that he could not talk about it further without getting emotional. Instead, he showed a NBC Nightly News clip about the reopening of schools and a moving video featuring teachers and students from Joplin.

“Vision matters,” he said. “You’ve got to set the vision first, communicate it clearly, then chart the course. … On my agenda, every day for those 87 days and every day since, my focus has been, number one, to celebrate daily, and number two, to ask what can we do to take care of our school family.”

Glenn Cook|April 13th, 2013|Categories: Crisis Management, NSBA Annual Conference 2013|

Ohio school boards hoping to hire more school safety officers, survey finds

A new survey by the Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA) found that roughly two out of five Ohio school districts currently have school safety officers, but many more districts are interested in acquiring them.

Forty-two percent of superintendents and treasurers reported using school safety officers to help ensure school security, according to the OSBA survey. It found police officers and sheriff’s deputies are most commonly used (90 percent), followed by security guards employed or contracted by the district (10 percent). Sixty-three percent of the districts with school safety officers have a single officer, 28 percent have two or three officers and less than 10 percent have four or more officers.

“In the wake of the tragic school shooting in Newtown, Conn., schools districts in Ohio and around the U.S. are taking extra steps to ensure students and staff are as safe as possible,” said OSBA Executive Director Richard Lewis. “It’s up to each district to decide the best way to ensure security, but school safety officers are one possible response to a complex problem.”

Fifty-six percent of Ohio school district leaders said their school safety officers are funded by the school district; a quarter said their school safety officers are funded through a shared service agreement. Among districts that do not currently use school safety officers, 58 percent of school leaders said they are interested in acquiring them.

OSBA Director of Legislative Services Damon Asbury noted that the cost of employing school security officers is difficult for the majority of Ohio’s cash-strapped school districts. He pointed out that a proposed state law, Senate Bill 42, would provide an avenue for districts to submit levy requests for funds to sponsor school safety measures, including resource officers. The bill is sponsored by state Sen. Gayle Manning and Sen. Randy Gardner.

Results are based on nearly 300 responses to an OSBA survey conducted electronically this month. For survey results, visit http://links.ohioschoolboards.org/33436/.

Erin Walsh|March 19th, 2013|Categories: Board governance, Budgeting, Bullying, Crisis Management, Discipline, School Climate, School Security|Tags: , , |

Education Talk Radio previews NSBA’s 2013 Annual Conference

Kanisha Williams-Jones, Director of Leadership & Governance Services at the National School Boards Association (NSBA), was a guest today on Education Talk Radio providing a preview of NSBA’s 2013 Annual Conference. Thousands of school board members, administrators, and other educators will be coming to San Diego to take part in the April 13-15 event.

Listen to the broadcast:

Listen to internet radio with EduTalk on Blog Talk Radio

The conference will feature more than 200 sessions on timely education topics, including federal legislation and funding, managing schools with tight budgets, the legal implications of recent court cases, new research and best practices in school governance, and the Common Core State Standards. A series of sessions will focus on school safety and security.

Expanded education technology programming will include site visits to the University of San Diego and Qualcomm’s Mobile Learning Center to explore its research laboratory on mobile learning; Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography to examine the technology in science education and STEM; Encinitas Union School District to view its One-to-One Digital Learning Program; and the San Diego Zoo to learn about the cutting-edge learning tools used to teach at-risk students. U.S. Navy SEALs will show leadership and team building skills during another workshop.

The meeting also includes one of the largest K-12 educational expositions, with some 300 companies showcasing their innovative products and services for school districts.

General Session speakers include Academy Award winning speaker Geena Davis, who will be speaking about her work off-screen as founder of the non-profit Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. Davis works with film and television creators to reduce gender stereotyping and increase the number of female characters in media targeted for children 11 and under. She will explain how media plays a key role in children’s development, and how her organization is making a difference.

Television star Neil deGrasse Tyson, one of the world’s most engaging and passionate science advocates, will headline Sunday’s General Session. From PBS to NASA to Presidential Commissions, organizations have depended on Tyson’s down-to-earth approach to astrophysics. He has been a frequent guest on “The Daily Show”, “The Colbert Report”, R”eal Time with Bill Maher”, and “Jeopardy!”. Tyson hopes to reach “all the people who never knew how much they’d love learning about space and science.”

Monday’s General Session features acclaimed researcher and author Diane Ravitch, who has become one of the most passionate voices for public schools. Her most recent book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, makes the case that public education today is in peril and offers a clear prescription for improving public schools.

Learn more about the common core standards, new research on differentiated learning styles, and teaching “unteachable” children at the Focus On lecture series. Learn about new technologies for your classrooms as part of the Technology + Learning programs.

It’s not too late to register, visit the Annual Conference website for  more information.

Page 1 of 812345...Last »