Articles in the School Security category

What motivates troubled kids to shape up?

800px-Jail_Cell_NMCPFlipping through the channels last night, desperate to find something besides Desperate Housewives in-a-town-near-you, I landed on A&E, completely enthralled by a new documentary series called, Beyond Scared Straight.

In my former life as a newspaper reporter, I remember spending the better part of a day, visiting a correctional facility with a group of students, who were given a grim but cursory look at prison life. I remember the experience being long, void of any real contact with inmates, and hence not very impactful for the students, none of which I recall where troublesome.

I guess, you could say it was a lighter version of Scared Straight, the widely acclaimed one-day intervention juvenile deliquents had in prison. Well, it seems Scared Straight is a lighter version of Beyond Scared Straight, a far more intense and frankly, downright scary wakeup call to teens heading in the wrong direction.

The shows promo contends that today’s youth require a different approach, one that marries communication, information and confrontation, to get through to them. In watching the last 20 minutes of the program, I’m certainly a believer in this strategy. And in followups with a handful of girls they profiled in the season’s openers, all but one seemed changed for good.

As security issues and student violence continue to plague schools, it’s a get-tough approach that could save some of today’s toughest youth.

Naomi Dillon, Senior Editor

Naomi Dillon|January 19th, 2011|Categories: American School Board Journal, Dropout Prevention, School Climate, School Security|Tags: , |

Anger and trajedy in Arizona

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

There was a time — for days, even weeks – after the terrorist attacks of 2001 that I could not look at a digital clock showing 9:11 without seeing images from that horrible day.

But I got over it. And in the same way (in much abbreviated fashion) I got over Saturday’s shootings in Arizona. Sunday was a strange day. Yesterday was more depressing. But today? Things seem back to “normal,” whatever that is. How quickly we move on.

But there are a few things I’d like to say about the terrible shootings that killed six people and injured 14, including a U.S. congresswoman. On the issue of whether the killer, Jared Loughner, was influenced by violent, mostly rightwing, rhetoric, we might never know for sure. But at a time when some on-air entertainers/commentators regularly denounce not simply the ideas or policies of opponents but their very legitimacy – in what some observers have called, using a rather odd phrase, “eliminationist rhetoric” — the potential impact on unstable individuals seems self-evident.  

Lawrence Hardy|January 11th, 2011|Categories: American School Board Journal, Governance, School Climate, School Security, Wellness|

Stopping LGBT bullying and suicides

Check out this powerful new PSA video that is addressing the issues of LGBT bullying and suicides:

Alexis Rice|November 15th, 2010|Categories: Announcements, Multimedia and Webinars, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, School Law, School Security, Student Achievement, Wellness|

High School Harassment, real and imagined

0909vailgraphicWe’re a bit late jumping on the bandwagon, but my wife and I recently watched the first season of Glee – Fox TV’s comedic take on a high school glee club — and are now, according to the lingo, certified “Gleeks.”

Why are we so smitten? Well, for one, the characters are expertly cast, and the singing, dancing and, especially, acting, are remarkable. The young stars have really gotten into the heads of adolescents and given us a true portrait of what high school is like.

Sort of. Because, in truth, much of the appeal of Glee is pure escapism. McKinley High is a mythical kind of school, a place where even the bad guys (and girls) are endearing and the worst thing that can befall you is being doused with a Slurpie in the hall or — if you’re Kurt, the one gay glee club member – ritually tossed into the trash bin by the football players at the start of school. (Mr. Schuester, the Spanish teacher and glee club director, drives by the trash bin a few times, and barely notices. So no harm done.) 

The real world is not so benign. A report released yesterday by the national gay rights group Campus Pride found that nearly one quarter (23 percent) of gay and bisexual students face harassment on college campuses, and more than a third (33 percent) “have seriously considered leaving their institution due to the challenging climate,” according to a news release accompanying the report.

Lawrence Hardy|September 21st, 2010|Categories: American School Board Journal, Curriculum, Discipline, Diversity, Dropout Prevention, Educational Research, Governance, Policy Formation, School Climate, School Security, Wellness|

NSBA to host food allergies and schools webcast

BoardBuzz readers may know that food allergies affect a student’s total school environment: bus rides, cafeterias, classrooms, and playgrounds. So now BoardBuzz wants to know: is your school district really prepared to prevent and deal with life threatening reactions?

Whether readers are well-versed in the nuances of food allergies or this is their first introduction to the issue, BoardBuzz recommends attending Food Allergies and Schools:  Keeping Students Safe and Ready to Learn. This webcast will provide valuable information and insight to school board members, superintendents, and other administrators, as well nurses, teachers and all those who play essential roles in carrying out the policies and practices that keep all students safe and ready to learn.  In other words, all BoardBuzz readers will benefit!

The webcast will feature a comprehensive panel of presenters, such as national-level experts and legal counsel, school board members, and other critical school personnel, and parents and students.  Topics will include:

  • Why you should act to address food allergies in schools;
  • What parents and students with life-threatening food allergies experience and need;
  • How food allergies have been successfully addressed by schools and recommendations for concrete policy and practice actions;
  • Where you can find additional resources to help you get started in enacting your own plans; and
  • Much more!

This multimedia program will be broadcast by ESGN Network – the Missouri School Boards Association’s production brand.  Support for this webcast is provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Food Allergies and Schools:  Keeping Students Safe and Ready to Learn will take place on Tuesday, November 9, 2010 from 2-3:30 EST, and is free but registration is required.

Caroline Myers|September 20th, 2010|Categories: Announcements, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, School Security, Student Achievement, Wellness|

School district’s visitor policy upheld

The plaintiff claimed that she had a constitutional right to be with her child in school and that she should not have to follow a school policy that required her to show a photo ID and undergo an electronic background check.

NSBA and the Texas school district that was sued said the policy was essential to maintaining a safe and orderly school environment.

On Wednesday, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the district court ruling in the case, Meadows v. Lake Travis Independent School District, and ruled unanimously in favor of NSBA and the school district.

“We are pleased with the court’s ruling, as school boards must be able to adopt reasonable visitor policies designed to protect the safety of students and ensure that students are able to learn in a safe and distraction-free environment,” said NSBA Executive Director Anne L. Bryant.

The plaintiff, Yvonne Meadows, refused to give officials at Bee Cave Elementary School her driver’s license or disclose her birth date so they could compare the information against a list of registered sex offenders. The district initiated the policy after an unidentified man entered the school several years ago and exposed himself to a fifth-grader.

In accordance with school policy, Meadows was allowed two escorted visits on school premises but was denied a third visit after she continued to refuse to present identification. The 5th Circuit maintained the district’s electronic identification system was narrowly tailored to achieve school safety and efficiency, saying it “takes only the minimum information necessary to determine sex-offender status, identify the visitor, and ensure the lack of false positives.”

Lawrence Hardy|September 10th, 2010|Categories: School Board News, School Law, School Security|

Addressing school bullying

Erica Jacobs, a columnist for The Washington Examiner, today explored the phenomenon of school bullying following the U.S. Department of Education’s first ever summit to address school bullying.

Jacobs shared her personal experience and noted:

Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan convened America’s first summit on bullying last week, and it’s about time. The goal was to bring together government agencies to both prevent and combat this growing problem. One in three students reports being bullied in middle or high school, and there are increased numbers of cyber bullying incidents. These are not rites of passage or normal adolescent behaviors, according to experts at the summit. They are learned patterns that can be changed.

My school’s bully was named Bradley. Everyone knew his pattern: He picked on students who were shy, overweight, or had a disability. We saw his actions in the schoolyard, yet we didn’t report him to teachers; we thought it was just the way it was. The message from the Department of Education, psychologists, and experts from the Department of Justice is that bullying has been protected for too long; it’s time to educate parents, teachers, and students to recognize when a child is being bullied and stop it before it’s too late.

BoardBuzz agrees that we must address school bullying as a safe school environment is critical in making sure our students succeed academically.

Alexis Rice|August 17th, 2010|Categories: Federal Programs, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, School Security, Student Achievement|

The week in blogs

Today’s New York Times tells a story of qualified success in the turning around of troubled Locke High School in south central Los Angeles. It’s a success because school leaders have restored a sense of order and purpose to a huge high school in one of the city’s toughest neighborhoods. But it’s qualified, the Times says, because of the tremendous cost — $15 million, much of it from private foundations. How useful a model is it for districts that don’t have that kind of money to spend, even with federal turnaround funds?

However, in his This Week in Education blog, Alexander Russo makes two good points: Locke High has many more problems than the typical low-performing school; and, considering cash-strapped California’s meager support of schools (about 46th place among the states in per-pupils spending, according to one estimate), the high school had a lot of ground to make up.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Get Schooled blog covers a troubling development in Memphis, Tenn., where school officials are considering bringing back corporal punishment.

NSBA’s own EDifier blog describes an interesting study that shows states can have more meaningful tests – and have them at a fraction of the cost of the current bubble-in kind.

Finally, a “you be the judge” kind of post on Education Tech News about a Philadelphia area English teacher who was fired from her parochial school after writing a blog about a class assignment. A Philadelphia Inquirer poll found overwhelming support for the teacher, but after reading the paper’s story, which appeared some time ago, I have to believe she crossed the line in a couple of serious ways. What do you think?

Lawrence Hardy, Senior Editor

Lawrence Hardy|June 25th, 2010|Categories: American School Board Journal, Assessment, Budgeting, Curriculum, Governance, School Climate, School Security, Student Achievement, Teachers|

Climate, not cameras, a remedy for student violence

Stock Vault

Stock Vault

I hate security cameras. So it really irritated me to read this week that Philadelphia schools chief Arlene Ackerman decided to install 126 security cameras inside troubled South Philadelphia High School.

It made me sad to learn that several other Philly high schools already have 100+ cameras looking over students’ shoulders.

Two things irk me about security cameras in schools. First, it’s a sign that the dangers of Big Brother did not diminish with the end of the Cold War.

Second—and a more practical argument—security cameras don’t discourage hotheaded kids from turning to violence. It just makes video of any incident available for broadcast on the evening news.

 I can understand why Ackerman thinks she had to act. In December, racial unrest led to several incidents—the most notable when African-American and Asian students clashed, with some groups of students allegedly going from room to room to target students for attack.


Kathleen Vail|May 13th, 2010|Categories: American School Board Journal, Discipline, School Buildings, School Climate, School Security|

Celebrate No Name-Calling Week

A rose by any other name (apologies to Shakespeare) can be really thorny. We all know that bullying is a serious problem that affects millions of students, and the annual No Name-Calling Week gives educators and students the tools and inspiration to launch an on-going dialogue about ways to eliminate name-calling in their communities. 

Bullied students feel unsafe and, therefore, are often absent from school.  In addition, bullying can affect the physical and emotional health of students and hinder their academic performance.  Bullying within school buildings is fairly common, but children spend countless hours “socializing” through mediums such as computers and cell phones and cyberbullying has presented itself as an “easy” and partly “masked” or anonymous way of harassing people. 

For these and other compelling reasons, BoardBuzz believes it’s imperative that schools address bullying—helping schools to be safe and supportive havens for students as well as places where they learn how to be respectful throughout their lives. Celebrating No Name-Calling Week, which began today, is a practical way to start the ball rolling.  No Name-Calling Week was inspired by a young adult novel called “The Misfits,” by author James Howe.  The book tells the story of a group of friends trying to survive the seventh grade in the face of all too frequent taunts based on their weight, height, intelligence, and sexual orientation/gender expression.  Inspired by the idea contained in the book, the No Name-Calling Coalition, created by GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) and Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, and consisting of over 40 national partner organizations, organized a No Name-Calling Week in schools across the nation. 

Although the project is targeted at grades five through eight – years when name-calling is particularly serious – the concept can be easily adapted by students and educators at other grade levels.  To help celebrate, the No Name-Calling Week website offers free materials such as planning documents; elementary, middle, and high school lesson plans; art lessons; promotional items; and anti-bullying resources from coalition partners.  In addition, a Resource Kit is available for purchase that includes among other things: an educational video; a comprehensive resource guide with program information; 11 lesson plans; and a copy of “The Misfits.”

And if you need to learn more about ways to prevent cyberbullying, NSBA has the right resource for you!   NSBA’s Technology Leadership Network has partnered with CyberSmart! to distribute their free Cyberbullying Package to schools nationwide.  The materials in the package provide tools for schools to begin a dialogue with students and build a sustained cyberbullying prevention campaign, promoting behavior change and continually reminding the school community of the importance of safe and ethical online use.

What are your schools doing to prevent bullying? Leave us a comment.

Daniela Espinosa|January 25th, 2010|Categories: NSBA Opinions and Analysis, School Security, Student Achievement|
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