Articles tagged with School Safety

NSBA works with White House on school safety issues

President Barack Obama issued 23 executive actions today that he says will strengthen school safety and prevent gun violence. He also called on Congress to pass tougher gun-control measures, including banning some assault rifles and magazines and requiring  background checks for purchasing all guns, one month and two days after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown, Conn.

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) was represented by Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel at the White House event. Obama announced a campaign entitled “Now is the Time” that outlines his plans for preventing gun violence.

The executive actions pertaining to school safety include:

  • Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers;
  • Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship, and institutions of higher education;
  • Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations;
  • Launch a national conversation on mental health with Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

The orders and proposals were “based on an emerging consensus from all the groups we heard,” said Vice President Joe Biden. At the request of the president, Vice President Biden oversaw a task force designed to field recommendations from key stakeholder groups to curb gun violence in the United States. The White House has emphasized that local school leaders would be able to choose the safety measures for their schools as they see fit.

“We commend President Obama for his efforts to ensure that all schools are safe places,” Gentzel said. “We look forward to working with the administration and Congress in a collaborative effort to address this important issue.”

NSBA called for the expansion of school safety zones and more school resource officers during a Jan. 9 White House meeting with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Attorney General Eric Holder, and White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, who fielded recommendations from about a dozen major education groups as part of the vice president’s task force.

NSBA’s Director of Federal Legislation Deborah Rigsby participated in that session and also recommended greater access to mental health services and resources for greater coordination between law enforcement agencies and school districts.

Other organizations represented at the event included the American Association of School Administrators, National PTA, National Education Association, American Federation of Teachers, School Social Work Association of America, Council of Chief State School Officers, Mothers in Charge, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of Secondary School Principals, Council for Exceptional Children, and Council of Great City Schools.

Some of the groups discussed ideas such as creating a federal interagency council on school safety, and training development and support for school principals on preparation and preparedness.

NSBA and some other groups did not take a specific position on gun control, but others expressed opposition to arming teachers with guns, Rigsby said.

Joetta Sack-Min|January 16th, 2013|Categories: Bullying, Crisis Management, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Governance, Legislative advocacy, Policy Formation, School Climate, School Security, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , , |

Kentucky district reassesses role of resource officers after Conn. shootings

Boone County Schools in Kentucky, home of National School Boards Association President C. Ed Massey, was featured in a Bloomberg story last week on the timely issue of arming school officials.

The National Rifle Association spurred a controversy on December 21 when it called for armed security guards in every U.S. public school in light of the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings in Connecticut.

Boone County Schools has hired nine sheriff’s deputies, armed with Glock .40-caliber pistols and tasers, to patrol its 23 schools, according to Bloomberg. The school board determined the policy after a 17-year-old high school junior killed his parents and two sisters, then held a class hostage at his high school.

While the focus has been on preventing violence at the middle and high schools, Superintendent Randy Poe told Bloomberg that the district is considering shifting some of its officers’ time to elementary schools. “It’s a new day,” Poe said. “You have to think differently here.”

Boone County was also featured in a Dec. 23 story by the New York Post on the school safety.

 

 

Joetta Sack-Min|December 27th, 2012|Categories: Board governance, Budgeting, Bullying, Crisis Management, Governance, High Schools, School Security|Tags: , , |

Experts show best practices for school safety plans in NSBA webinar

One week after the Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut, school officials again are asking whether they have enough measures in place to try to prevent a similar tragedy.

Two school safety experts showed best practices and answered urgent questions during a Dec. 21 webinar, “Planning For and Managing the School Crisis You Hope Never Comes,” sponsored by the National School Boards Association’s Office of General Counsel and the Council of School Attorneys (COSA). The webinar was designed to be an overview of tactics and resources to prevent and respond to a wide range of catastrophes, from natural disasters, shootings and other crimes, or technological and medical emergencies, such as a pandemic flu.

School safety practices have evolved tremendously since the Columbine High School shootings 13 years ago, said presenter Shamus O’Meara, a partner with the Minneapolis law firm Johnson Condon, Attorneys at Law P.A., who represented and advised the Red Lake and Rocori school districts, both in Minnesota, in their school shooting incidents. The second presenter, Rick Kaufman, was the communications director for Colorado’s Jefferson County School District during the Columbine shootings and is executive director of community relations and emergency management for the Bloomington Public Schools, also in Minnesota.

School safety plans no longer involve a simple grid that lives in a drawer—instead, they are comprehensive plans that address strategies for prevention and mitigation, preparedness, recovery, and response. The presenters encouraged school districts to build such a plan in partnership with other agencies, including law enforcement, local government, and public health. School climate and programs to deal with issues such as bullying are key to preventing incidents as well.

Out of more than 180 participants on the webinar, 86 percent reported having reviewed their school districts’ safety plan in the past year, which is a good sign, O’Meara said.

An important consideration is community involvement and recognizing the community’s values when making choices within a comprehensive plan, he added.

School officials should also practice those crisis plans regularly and ensure all new staff are adequately trained. An outside safety audit can correct weaknesses and a safety team can address ongoing needs and new issues that arise.

The speakers did not make any recommendations on the issue of allowing school administrators or teachers to carry guns. Another issue that surfaced on Friday was a proposal by the National Rifle Association (NRA) for a national school safety program that would pay for armed school safety officers at any school that wanted one. Major issues to consider include how to train school staff and how frequently, how the guns would be carried or stored, and whether the money could be better spent on other violence prevention programs, O’Meara said.

If a disaster does occur, Kaufman offered these–and many other–recommendations for communications with parents, school staff, and the media:

  • Mobilize a response team that shields the site, students, and staff from outside forces;
  • Make a call for assistance before it’s too late;
  • Understand it’s not “business as usual”;
  • Act in the short-term, but think in the long-term;
  • Know key messages and stick to them;
  • Don’t allow media to dominate school officials’ time, attention.

School districts looking for resources to update or revamp their existing school safety plans should first contact their state school boards association, COSA Director Sonja Trainor suggested.

An audio recording of the webinar is available on NSBA’s school safety resources website. Other resources that the speakers recommended include:

OSHA Statutory Requirement

National Fire Protection Association; NFPA 1600 Emergency Preparedness Standard: Voluntary standards for prevention, mitigation, preparation, response and recovery from emergencies for public, non-profit and private entities

National Incident Management System (NIMS)

The Final Report and Findings of The Safe School Initiative: Implications for the Prevention of School Attacks in the United States; U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Department of Education

Prior Knowledge of Potential School-Based Violence: Information Students Learn May Prevent a Targeted Attack U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Department of Education

 U.S. Department of Education guidance on FERPA, October 2007

U.S. Department of Homeland Security

U.S. Department of Education Office of Safe and Healthy Students

FEMA

U.S. Department of Education Emergency Planning

Emergency Response and Crisis Management Technical Assistance (TA) Center

Practical Information on Crisis Planning

“Emergency Exercises: An Effective Way to Validate School Safety Plans,” ERCM Express Newsletter, U.S. Department of Education

 A Guide to Vulnerability Assessments: Key Principles for Safe Schools, U.S. Department of Education

Action Guide for Institutions of Higher Learning, U.S. Department of Education

School Safety: Lessons Learned, U.S. Attorneys Office, Minn.

Complete Crisis Communication and Management Manual, National School Public Relations Association, Rick Kaufman (2009)

 

 

Joetta Sack-Min|December 21st, 2012|Categories: Board governance, Bullying, Council of School Attorneys, School Security|Tags: , , , |

Video: NSBA discusses school safety on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal”

Francisco M. Negrón Jr., General Counsel of the National School Boards Association, was featured on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” on Dec. 19 discussing school safety and  how school boards across the U.S. develop and implement emergency plans.

Alexis Rice|December 19th, 2012|Categories: NSBA Opinions and Analysis, School Boards, School Law, School Security, Teachers|Tags: , , , , , , |

NSBA speaks out on school safety

Francisco M. Negrón Jr., General Counsel of the National School Boards Association, was featured on NPR’s “All Things Considered” as schools re-examine safety and security following the Newtown, Conn. school shooting. Negrón noted that “schools are going to try to understand whether or not they need to change their policies accordingly.”

Negrón is also scheduled to be on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” on Wednesday morning, Dec. 19 from 8:45-9:15 am EST discussing school safety. You can watch it live online or on C-SPAN and C-SPAN Radio. It will also recorded and will be available in the C-SPAN archive. If you watch the “Washington Journal” live, we encourage you to call-in, tweet, or email Negrón a question.

Call-In Numbers:
Democrats:  202-585-3880
Republicans: 202-585-3881
Independents: 202-585-3882
Outside U.S.:  202-585-3883

Email: journal@c-span.org

Twitter: http://twitter.com/cspanwj

Alexis Rice|December 18th, 2012|Categories: School Law, School Security, Teachers|Tags: , , , , , , , , |

School security articles available at American School Board Journal

In her 2006 article, “A Measured Approach,” which was written after several school shootings by individuals with no connection to the schools, American School Board Journal editor Naomi Dillon wrote: “From fostering a positive and inviting school climate, to teaching and modeling good behavior, to encouraging students and staff to be the eyes and ears of the building, schools can do a lot to make themselves unsuitable targets for unstable individuals.”

The horrific events in Newtown, Conn., have most of us looking for answers again. As school leaders, you are searching anew for information on security – disaster planning, safeguards, and the kind of prevention described in Dillon’s article. ASBJ can help provide that information for you: The magazine has published many articles on school safety for school leaders over the years. Usually only open to subscribers or available for purchase, the articles will be open to the public at our topical archive, Safe From Harm.

At the top of the list of articles is a look back at the Columbine shootings – interviews with the principal, counselor, superintendent, communications official, and others who experienced the events on that day in 1999.

Other articles include: “Communicating During a Crisis,” by school safety expert Ken Trump, who gives tips on how make sure your schools have well-developed and exercised safety and crisis plans and your staff is trained to implement them.

In “Safe From Harm,” ASBJ law columnist Ed Darden notes that a get-tough stance is tempting, but compassion and conversations are just as important.

Dillon writes of the importance of disaster planning in “Do You Have a Disaster Plan?”

Many other articles are available for reading and for download.  Please give us your feedback on what other kinds of security articles you’d find most useful.

 

 

Kathleen Vail|December 17th, 2012|Categories: American School Board Journal, Crisis Management, School Buildings, School Climate, School Law, School Security|Tags: , , , , , |

More flexibility needed in bill regulating use of restraints on students, NSBA tells Senate

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is asking for more flexibility for local school officials in a bill designed to prevent the improper use of restraints and seclusion to manage students with disabilities.

In testimony submitted in anticipation of a hearing on July 12, NSBA is asking the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions to reconsider portions of the Keeping All Students Safe Act (S. 2020). The bill, which is supported by many special education and disability rights advocates, would ban certain types of restraints and require school districts to report incidents to the U.S. Department of Education.

“Local school boards want to be assured that federal legislation addressing the use of restraints and seclusion provides maximum flexibility and authority to states and local school boards in its implementation,” reads NSBA’s testimony.

NSBA asks that any requirements for teacher and staff training and certification “be structured in a manner that is reasonable, affordable and effective,” and that Congress ensures that data collecting and reporting requirements are minimized, given the limited capacity of school districts and the U.S. Department of Education to collect and analyze such data.

The testimony asks for specific changes to the bill, including:

  • Remove or rewrite the threshold for restraints, based on the definition of serious bodily injury adopted by IDEA in 2004, which is not feasible in emergencies and takes away other opportunities to train staff and prepare for its use;
  • Modify the requirement for a debriefing session within five days, as this is burdensome and costly to schools and would create conditions well beyond the control of the school. NSBA recommends that personnel should be allowed to submit information verbally, in writing and electronically since all parties may not be able to physically participate;
  • Ensure that the bill allows flexibility to address unanticipated threats to students’ safety;
  • Remove a stipulation that prohibits any reference to the use of physical restraints into a student’s education plan; and
  • Allow states that have successfully created policies dealing with restraints and seclusion to be exempt from new federal mandates.

The bill was introduced in December but its chance of passage seems unlikely, given its lack of progress in the House and the lack of time remaining in Congress in an election year.

Joetta Sack-Min|June 27th, 2012|Categories: Crisis Management, Discipline, Educational Legislation, Legislative advocacy, Policy Formation, School Climate, School Security, Special Education|Tags: , , , |

Spinning Wheels

Remember the feeling of the adult in your life letting go of the bike seat and sailing off into the empty space with speed, grace, and perhaps an abrupt stop into some bushes? Can you hear the flicking of the baseball card in the spokes, or the dinging of that shiny metal bell on the handlebars? Bicycling launches childhood into a new realm and expands the possibilities to beyond one’s yard or street, and into the whole neighborhood. Even as we type this, BoardBuzz yearns for those days . . . but we digress.

As we hear more about childhood obesity and staggering statistics about American’s sedentary lives, we remind you that May is National Bike Month and this week is Bike Week. Now before you fire up your Harley, the bike we’re referring to has pedals and sweat-power instead of horse-power. Friday is Bike to Work Day, and with gas prices on a cease-less climb, why not look at your options? The League of American Bicyclists has some great tips for many cities around the county. Plus, you’ll be leading by example to the millions of school kids that ride their bikes to school and other places everyday. They even have safety tips for students and adults. Just remember to wear a helmet!

Erin Walsh|May 13th, 2008|Categories: NSBA Opinions and Analysis, School Security, Student Achievement, Wellness|Tags: , |
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