SEEN Fall 2019 Safety and Security

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Fall 2019 Edition

Safety &Security A PUBLICATION OF


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SAFE SCHOOLS? Violent Threats and Incidents in Schools:

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An Analysis of the 2018-2019 School Year Researched and Written by Dr. Amy Klinger and Amanda Klinger, Esq.

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How to Prepare Even the Youngest Students to Survive a Threat By Chad Cunningham

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If a crisis hits your schools, are you ready to communicate? By DAVID R. VOSS President, Voss & Associates

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3 Ways to Make This School Year Safer Than Ever By Hillary Bowling

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Fire Safety In Schools: What Your Facilities Need To Have In Place

EDITOR’S NOTE Here at SEEN, we know the importance and necessity of living and learning in safe and secure environments. We also know when K12 schools and school districts are safe and secure environments – communities thrive. That’s why we focus tirelessly on the topic and bring you this Fall 2019 Safety and Security Guide. We hope this guide provides all of you safety and security resources and information for your schools – especially during this National Safe Schools week! Take the information in this publication to heart and look to SEEN for more safety and security year round.

Safety &Secur SEEN Magazine 866-761-1247

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SAFE SCHOOLS? Violent Threats and Incidents in Schools:

An Analysis of the 2018-2019 School Year Researched and Written by Dr. Amy Klinger and Amanda Klinger, Esq. During the 2018-2019 school year,

schools actually face. They all may

an active shooter event. In fact, there

schools across the United States

say the most likely threat a school

are critical unintended consequences

continued to work to improve their

faces is that of an active shooter.

associated with undertaking any and

level of preparedness for a crisis event.

Although such events are horrific,

all interventions in the name of active

Unfortunately, commonly held beliefs

data indicates these tragedies are

shooter response. Perhaps more

and fears, as well as the prevailing

exceedingly rare. As noted in the key

troubling, this perception of the single,

media narrative, are often contradictory

findings of this report, the greatest

overwhelming threat of an active

to the reality of the types of hazards

threat to the safety of schools is not

shooter has become a wide-spread

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belief that has negatively impacted all-

of violence in America’s schools to

For the purpose of this report, an

hazards preparedness and potentially

examine the frequency, scope, and

incident was categorized as a “shooting”

decreased the overall safety of schools.

severity of the problem. This data,

when shots were deliberately fired

In order to make strategic, intentional

albeit accurate, is a small subset of

on the campus of a school with the

decisions about how to prepare and

information to a larger issue. ESSN

intent to cause harm. An event was

empower educators to effectively

is consistently making updates to

categorized as “shots fired” when a

prevent and respond to crisis events,

their data tracking and reporting.

weapon was discharged on school

this report provides a data-driven

grounds in an incident that was not

understanding of the frequency and

Key Findings

considered targeted violence. This

nature of violent threats and incidents

1. I n the 2018-2019 school year, only

finding warrants an examination of the

in schools. As a result, well-intentioned

six percent of all tracked incidents

amount of time and resources currently

security interventions, or aggressive,

involved a school shooting. Despite

spent preparing solely to respond to

intimidating training and drills often

high levels of media attention, and

an event that is potentially devastating,

created negative, far-reaching

the common perception that school

but statistically rare. The need for active

unintended consequences: adding to

shootings are the most significant

shooter preparation and training is

the fears already held by educators,

risk schools face, only six percent

critical, however, it is not the only (or

students and parents. In order to

of all tracked violent incidents

most likely) hazard schools face. Harvard

make strategic, intentional decisions

involved an active shooter event in

lecturer David Ropeik reasons that

about how to prepare and empower

a school. An additional 4.5 percent

despite our common perception of the

educators to effectively prevent and

of tracked incidents involved shots

risk, “the statistical likelihood of any given

respond to crisis events, this report

being fired on school grounds. Even

public school student being killed by a

provides a data-driven understanding

with the inclusion of the tracked

gun, in school, on any given day since

of the frequency and nature of violent

incidents where a gun was found in

1999 was roughly 1 in 614,000,000.”

threats and incidents in schools.

a school but not fired (13.6 percent

It is likely that the increased awareness

This is the annual report for the 2018-

of incidents), the total of all violent

and fear of active shooter attacks

2019 school year released by the

incidents that were related to the

has resulted in the belief that the

Educator’s School Safety Network

presence or use of guns in a school

actual number of these events has

(ESSN), a national non-profit school

was less than a quarter (24 percent)

also increased. Although many of

safety organization. As part of on-going,

of all the events that occurred.

the effects of this overemphasis

unfunded research, the organization has

on a statistically unlikely event at

compiled data on threats and incidents

the exclusion of more likely crises

of violence, including school-based bomb

are not measured in this study, the

incidents, since 2014. Their research is

most commonly tracked incident, a

derived from daily tracking and analysis

response occasioned by a false report

of school-based incidents and threats

or mock attack, is directly related and

of violence in the United States.

discussed in finding number 2 below.

ESSN has compiled the most current information on threats and incidents

2. T hroughout the 2018-2019 school

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year, schools faced a wide array of

anxiety that school stakeholders

threats accounted for 32 percent

different types of violent incidents.

have about an active shooter event.

of all specified threats, while bomb

The most common incidents tracked

While this focus on gun violence is

incidents (detonations, devices, and

in the 2018-2019 school year were

not without validity (as 24 percent

suspicious packages) accounted for

false reports or mock attacks,

of violent incidents were gun-

nine percent of all tracked violent

which accounted for 18 percent

related), violent incidents in schools

incidents. The frequency — and the

of all incidents. This is a sharp

encompassed a wide array of events,

lack of preparedness that makes

increase from the rate tracked in

including 18 percent of incidents

it particularly concerning —¬ has

previous school years, and indicates

where violent, aggressive behaviors

remained largely unchanged since

that the fear of a school shooting

occurred in schools without the

this research begin in 2014.

can be effectively weaponized by

presence of a gun. These included

As discussed in previous reports,

perpetrators to cause chaos, fear

outside aggressive actors such as

school administrators and law

and disruption, as well as provoke a

disruptive parents or trespassers,

enforcement officials continue to

tactical law enforcement response.

large-scale student fights, and other

find themselves in the untenable

As discussed in finding number

less frequent but equally concerning

position of having to make critical

one¬¬¬¬ above, the belief that

events such as attempted abductions,

decisions about the validity of threats

school shootings happen frequently,

dating violence, and assaults. This

with little to no threat assessment

or the fear that they are imminent

raises questions about the lack

protocols, few established best

or inevitable, may also result in

of training, preparedness, and

practices, outdated procedures, and

erroneous reports of lower level

resource allocation in schools for

typically, a complete lack of education-

incidents as active shooter events.

non-gun related violent events that

based school safety training. More

are more statistically likely to pose

alarmingly, while the 88 gun-related

a threat to the safety of students.

incidents noted in 2018- 2019 is clearly unacceptable, current training

3. Bomb threats and bomb incidents

and planning practices that focus

continued to disrupt schools in the

solely on active shooter response

2018-2019 school year. The original

result in a school being inadequately

intent of this research and series

prepared to prevent and respond

The high rate of simulated or falsely

of reports was to measure the

to the majority of violent incidents

reported attacks, combined with

frequency of bomb incidents and

(78 percent) that do not involve gun

the significant number of reports

threats. Although the scope of each

violence. This single emphasis also

of suspicious people in or near a

subsequent report has expanded

compromises educators’ abilities

school (15.8 percent), accounted

to include other types of violence,

to plan for, prevent and respond

for 34 percent of all incidents. More

school-based bombing incidents,

to crisis events that are not man-

than a third of tracked incidents that

suspicious packages, and bomb

made, but much more likely, such

disrupted schools and required multi-

threats remain concerns that are

as accidents, medical emergencies

agency responses were predicated

inadequately addressed in current

and severe weather events. There is

on the high level of concern and

policies, training, and resources. Bomb

a critical need for a comprehensive,

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all-hazards approach to threats and

significant concern impacting schools.

In this report, an incident is defined as

incidents that incorporates both

an actual occurrence that requires a

violence prevention and response.

response extending beyond a school’s regular capabilities. While the rate of

Additional Findings

violent events — © 2010-2019 The

In the 2018-2019 school year,

Educator’s School Safety Network www.

more than 3,434 threats and — continues to

incidents of violence occurred in

increase, the majority of these incidents

American K-12 schools, with actual

were not active shooter events. In fact,

incidents of violence increasing

the most common occurrence (18.4

from the 2017-2018 school year.

percent of all incidents) were false reports

The number of threats in 2018-

of a violent intruder or mock attacks that

2019 decreased 9.5 percent

resulted in a law enforcement response.

from the previous year. While the 3,058 threats reported in

Threats of Violence — Types of Threats

the 2018-2019 school year were a 9.5 percent decrease from the year before, this was still an increase of 46.6 percent from the 2016-2017 school year. For the purposes of this research, “threats” are defined as an expressed intent to do harm. While it may be a positive sign that the number of actual threats decreased, the rate at which schools experienced threats is still significantly higher than in the past. It is also important to consider that an increase in the number of threats reported over time may not necessarily be entirely negative. A heightened awareness and adoption of a “see something, say something” perspective by school stakeholders is a positive trend that may account for at least some of the increased number of reported threats. This does not change the reality, however, that threats of violence continue to be a

The number of violent incidents increased

The most common threats recorded

34 percent from the previous year.

in the 2018-2019 school year were

The continued increase in actual

unspecified threats of violence (47.4

incidents of violence is of greater

percent of all threats), shooting threats

concern. The 2018-2019 school year

(28.2 percent of all threats), and bomb

included at least 374 incidents of

threats (16.9 percent of all threats).

violence compared to 279 events in the 2017-2018 school year, an increase of 34 percent. While this year’s increase is less dramatic than the 113 percent increase experienced from 2016-2017 to 2017-2018, the overall trajectory during the three-year time period is a startling increase of 185.5 percent. The most significant trend in this area is the continued increase in unspecified threats. This may largely be due to a choice on the part of school officials or emergency responders to not divulge specific information about threats received. While this may make sense

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in a given situation, it makes it difficult

parents and school staff accounted for

intervention. More than 50 plots of

to identify whether specific types of

less than two percent of all threats.

violence against schools were thwarted in

threats are increasing or decreasing.

the 2018-2019 school year (13.4 percent

In a small number of situations, the

of all tracked incidents). This is 10 more

threat itself was an expressed intent

than the previous year, although in 2017-

to do harm that did not contain any

2018 thwarted plots accounted for more

specifics as to the means for doing so.

of the violent incidents (19 percent). An explosive device was detonated in a school four times in the 2018-2019

Method of Delivery of Threats

school year, compared to once in

While the method of delivery for a

2017-2018, and twice in 2016-2017.

specific threat was not always reported,

The 28 suspicious packages reported

when it was known, social media was the

in 2018-2019 was a slight increase

most common source, accounting for 38 percent of all threats in the 2018-2019 school year. This is relatively unchanged from the previous two school years. In 2018-2019 (as in 2017-2018), written threats were discovered within the school itself nearly 20 percent of the time, most commonly in the restroom. Verbal comments were the source of threats 8.6 percent of the time.

from the two previous years as well.

Incidents of Violence ¬¬The most frequent incidents during the 2018-2019 school year were false

Individuals Who Perpetrated Incidents of Violence

reports or mock attacks (18.4 percent

As was the case with threats, the majority

of all incidents), followed by reports

(85 percent) of all violent incidents in the

of a suspicious person predicating a

2018-2019 school year were perpetrated

response (15.8 percent of all incidents),

by students followed by adults who

and thwarted plots (13.4 percent of all incidents). As discussed earlier in

Individuals Who Made Threats of Violence

this report, consideration should be

While data related to the sex, age, and

incidents that occurred in schools

affiliation of those who made threats

during the 2018-2019 school year.

of violence was not always known or

More than 6.7 percent of tracked

reported, it was tracked when available.

incidents were wide-ranging violent

During the 2018- 2019 school year,

or aggressive behaviors by students

87 percent of all threats of violence

or others which occurred at a higher

came from students, a slight increase

rate than those of an active shooter.

given to the diverse array of violent

from 81 percent the previous year. Other adults were responsible for

These events rose beyond the “typical”

threats 7.3 percent of the time, also

disciplinary or behavioral issues noted

a slight increase from 6.8 percent

in schools, and required emergency

in 2017-2018. In both school years,

response or law enforcement

8 School Safety Guide | SEEN Magazine

were not parents or staff members (12 percent). The rate of violence by staff, parent, or non-student juvenile perpetrators was 1.2 percent or less for each group. As in threats, the majority of violent incidents (88 percent) were perpetrated by males.

Recommendations As a result of the findings of this annual

most approaches to school safety

and academic achievement must be

report, and the ones that preceded

have been response oriented, focused

recognized. Data from this report

it, the following recommendations

on gun violence, derived from a law

indicates that threats of violence as

should be considered:

enforcement perspective, and based

well as false reports of active shooters

1. Training, resources, and emergency

heavily on the purchase of hardware.

and simulated attacks are a frequent

planning for schools needs to focus

While these elements are an important

occurrence in schools, resulting — ©

on an all-hazards approach to school

part of a comprehensive approach to

2010-2019 The Educator’s School

safety. The erroneous belief that

crisis planning and response, they are

Safety Network www.eSchoolSafety.

active shooter events are the most

not enough. Preventing violence, not

org — in a heightened level of anxiety

significant hazard schools face leaves

just responding to it, must become a

and fear for school stakeholders. The

educators vulnerable and unprepared

priority. This can be achieved through

task of assessing the validity of an

for the more likely crisis events they

research-based best practices such

ever-increasing number of threats,

will encounter. In many cases, the only

as threat assessment management,

and responding appropriately and

training educators receive is geared

improving school climate and culture,

effectively to each one of them puts

toward a school shooting, even though

applying appropriate supports and

educators and emergency responders

it is one of the least likely crisis events.

interventions to those at risk for

in a difficult position, often with

This report only deals with violent

violence, enacting effective supervision,

little training or support in what to

incidents and threats and does not

implementing visitor engagement

do. Even worse, the frequency and

consider the significant portion of crisis

and other educator-based initiatives.

scope of threats consumes significant

events in schools that are not man-

Perhaps most significantly, attention

financial and personnel resources and

made — such as accidents, medical

must be paid to the consequences

almost always results in the loss of

emergencies and severe weather

of creating a prison-like, surveillance-

instructional time, negatively impacting

events — all of which are even more

based environment in schools, where

academic achievement. Appropriate

likely than incidents of violence.

students are viewed as potential

training, resources, and support

2. The continued longitudinal increase

perpetrators and educators are forced

need to be applied to preventing,

in violent incidents and threats indicates

into security and policing roles.

assessing, and responding to threats

that current school safety practices

3. While response to incidents is critical,

of violence, not just actual incidents.

alone are not effective. Historically

the impact of threats on student safety

9 School Safety Guide | SEEN Magazine

Staying Safe

Today as students return to school,

recent years the number of incidents

is so much more that needs to be

campuses are faced with the threat

has been staggering. The dependence

implemented. School security must

of active shooters, drug and vaping

and investment in Security Resource

be multi-pronged and strategic.

concerns, sex offenders and parental

Officers (SROs) or security guards

Schools have been operating with

abductors waiting for an opportunity

to make sure that students are safe

limited budget and security protection,

to strike. Real threats (and suspected

may be comforting to parents but the

and until recently, has not typically been

dangers) are reported all the time. In

reality of the situation is that there

at the top of the list of must-haves.

Continued on Page 12

10 School Safety Guide | SEEN Magazine

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11 School Safety Guide | SEEN Magazine

Initially, security equipment was

the video streams within the

well as any of the visitor’s actions.

acquired to deter activity. As more and

district, and no third-party

Beyond forensic capability, think

more events occurred, it then became

monitoring service, the school

of ways a school system can utilize

important to be able to provide

system is ultimately dependent

this information. Surveillance

forensic evidence – use video feed

on “smart” technology. How does

information is already being used by

for the investigation of an incident

one implement “smart” security?

corporate marketing departments

and furnish “proof” to authorities.

Analytics. Just a few examples

and retail stores to understand

Today, many schools have

emphasize the ability of technology

buying patterns, gender selection

surveillance cameras. However,

to do some of the work. When

and traffic patterns in addition to

whether the cameras capture

objects appear in places that are

security. For schools, surveillance

activity everywhere on school

normally vacant, people enter

could also be used to support school

grounds, whether they are have

areas that are usually restricted,

expansion requests, a change in

been updated to digital technology,

or a camera detects a person

traffic patterns (i.e. buses, parents,

whether a video management

present vs. an animal or activity vs.

visitors), preventative modification

solution has been implemented that

weather (i.e. rain or snow falling),

(i.e. uncovering vaping areas), where

immediately alarms key resources

these events can trigger an alarm,

and when walking paths are used,

when an incident occurs and

cause doors to be locked, or alert

delivery trends, busiest visitor days

provide forensic data, is unknown.

the appropriate responders.

and times, lunch improvements,

The foundation of any digital

Do you want to know where a

social patterns, weather impacts, etc.

technology is the network. There

particular visitor went on school

But this is just the tip of the iceberg!

has to be enough bandwidth

grounds? Who interacted with this

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has entered

to support the devices on the

visitor? With some analytic software

the security world and is now a

network. And video surveillance

solutions, the video management

major focus for use in uncovering

requires significant bandwidth. If

system can now extract quickly and

proactive and preemptive security

there isn’t sufficient bandwidth,

in time sequence all video capture

information. AI allows the analysis

the transmission of what a camera

of a given visitor. As an example,

of large amounts of structured and

captures may be delayed, thereby

let’s assume this visitor was at the

unstructured data to determine

delaying the alerts to school and

school midday and wore a red scarf.

connections and trends that are

emergency personnel. Many schools

The software can search, extract

impossible for human detection. The

don’t have a Security Operations

and play all video capture between

goal is to use AI to achieve full facility

Center (SOC) like universities and

11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. that shows a

situational awareness and detect

corporations. Therefore, no one is

person wearing a red scarf. Within

anomalies — standard behavior

watching real-time camera feed on

seconds, the software allows the

and actions versus abnormal activity

a regular basis. If the technology

administrator to view all clips of this

— without human intervention

can’t do its job appropriately due

individual independent of where

and use this information to predict

to a poor network infrastructure,

the visitor was on the campus. The

when emergent incidents are

lives could be endangered.

administrator can see all persons

likely to occur and when additional

If there are no resources monitoring

with whom this visitor interacted as

resources are warranted.

12 School Safety Guide | SEEN Magazine

Is there personnel at your school

to get to the proper resources in

Physical security can no longer

focused on making sure that security

case something happens on the

be last on the school’s To-Do list

equipment has been installed to

playground, walking to a parked car,

if and when funding is available.

keep unknown and unwanted visitors

at the ballfield or in a classroom? Do

Inexpensive cameras, post-incident

out, students and faculty safe and

vehicles license plates coming onto

analysis, and marginal network

emergency responders alerted? Do

the campus need to be captured

equipment can no longer be the

these responsible security or facility

and compared to a database of

standard. School protection must

resources understand the need

offender plates? Can vaping activity

be multi-faceted and “smart.” In

for robust network infrastructure,

be detected and reported?

addition to curricula, graduation

bandwidth requirements and

Emergent incidents haven’t waned.

rates and extracurricular activities,

processing power that will support

The incidents have spread to

security is quickly becoming another

analytics and eventually AI?

shopping centers, yoga facilities,

measurement for schools and a

When you look at the video

workplaces and places of worship.

decision point for parents. Safety

footage, is there enough detail to

Because of this, security technology

and security can no longer be

recognize individuals? Are there

has a renewed focus and continues

swept under the rug. There is no

areas on the campus not currently

to improve. There is increased

doubt that an incident will happen;

surveilled? Is it safe to walk to the

awareness and communication

it’s a question of when it will occur

parking lot or on a footpath at

between enforcement and

and whether the school will be in

night? Does faculty have the ability

emergency response agencies,

a position to handle resolution

to quickly send an electronic alert

private businesses and personnel.

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Profiles in Safety

Leading Districts Protect Their Schools with Proven Safety Solutions

Staff Training and Anonymous Tip Reporting Increase Safety

Each year, managing school safety grows in complexity. How do administrators proactively address critical issues like active shooters and intruders, bullying and cyberbullying, drug and alcohol abuse, and student mental health and suicide prevention to best safeguard their schools and districts?

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Profiles in School Safety Cherokee County School District Cherokee County School District (CCSD) is a high performing school system in Metro Atlanta, with 42 schools, 4,800 employees, and 42,200+ students. The district’s top safety priorities this year include a Social and

Emotional Learning (SEL) initiative focused on student and staff mental health, staff training on key topics like workplace safety and identifying and reporting child abuse, and vaping.

Consistent Delivery of Safety and Compliance Training Since 2016, CCSD has successfully used SafeSchools’ safety and compliance training and tip reporting solutions. The district selected the SafeSchools Online Staff Training System to move from a paper-based system to an online system that provides expert-authored safety training and better compliance reporting. The district also uses SafeSchools Training’s specialized courses from the School Bus Safety Company, that have helped CCSD address the growing challenge of recruiting and hiring qualified bus drivers. “SafeSchools Training is critical to our efforts to inform employees of important safety issues, to ensure they understand and agree to follow our protocols and practices, and to ensure consistent content and delivery districtwide,” explained Julie Little, Executive Director of Human Resources, Risk Management, and Benefits.

Preventing Serious Incidents with Anonymous Tip Reporting As texting has grown in popularity, CCSD saw tips to its safety phone line decline. The SafeSchools Alert Tip Reporting System expanded

CCSD’s reporting options to meet the needs of today’s digital natives by offering reporting via text, email, phone, web, and a new mobile app. The district has seen the number of safety tips increase dramatically as a result of adopting SafeSchools Alert, and CCSD has been able to address serious incidents, including disciplinary issues, vaping, bullying, student emotional or mental health crises, and even students considering suicide. According to Little, “SafeSchools Alert has improved communications between students, parents, the community, and CCSD, and has empowered students to ‘see something, say something’ with greater ease and anonymity.”

Lexington County School District One Lexington County School District One is one of the fastest growing districts in South Carolina with 26,800+ students and 3,800 employees across 30 schools. The district’s top safety priorities for this school year include improving front entrance security, improving communication during an emergency, increasing mental health counselors, and implementing threat assessment teams on each campus.

Preparing Staff for a Safety Incident with Effective Training and Tools Lexington District One has used SafeSchools Training for over ten years to provide staff with greater access to safety and compliance training, anytime, anywhere. Today, the district also uses the program’s customization tools to create, assign, and track district-specific training and policies in one centralized system. The SafeSchools Alert Tip Reporting System has allowed the district to simplify how students, staff, and the

public submit safety and security tips. The system allows district administrators to receive tips in real time, respond quickly, and keep a log of all information received. In the first six months of implementing the system, 63% of the 155 tips submitted were submitted after normal school hours. In addition, 47% led to an active investigation and 43% required law enforcement action. “We believe the system’s ability to support the needs of our students in partnership with law enforcement, especially as it relates to the threats of suicide after hours, is invaluable,” explained Safety and Emergency Services Director, Chris Ellisor.

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How to Prepare Even the Youngest Students to Survive a Threat 16 School Safety Guide | SEEN Magazine

By Chad Cunningham

and lessons that are age appropriate.

or more of the following seven ways:

According to the FBI reports on active

When focused on age appropriate

1. Auditory

shooter incidents, violent attacks on

training, levels of cognitive and

2. Kinesthetic (hands-on, doing)

schools are increasing in frequency,

behavioral development, along with

3. Visual

leaving schools in a position of needing

the variety of learning styles must

4. Logical

to train and empower their students

be considered. In the Final Report

5. Verbal

and staff. Schools are facing pressure

of the Federal Commission on School

6. Social

from parents, the community and

Safety (2018), the commission states

7. Solitary

government regulations to prepare

that “effective training is critical,

Understanding these learning styles

for the threat of violent tragedy.

making it imperative that schools

will help you in developing your

But how do you train students? How

regularly review training protocols

lessons and activities. There are three

do you train them on a scary topic

and ensure that every SRO, SSO,

categories that should be included

without scaring them? How do you

teacher, administrator and student

in your lessons: visuals, stories and

train them age appropriately?

is as prepared as possible.�

activities. The information provided in

These questions are focused on

Preparing students to respond to an

Table 1 will help you prepare lessons

training and preparing our youngest

active shooter event should not be as

for different age groups appropriately.

group of students to respond to

difficult as many people make it out to

a violent critical incident — active

be. When training students, remember

Training Pre-K

shooter, domestic violence, stranger

to design and develop your lessons

Pre-K students are starting to develop

danger, etc.). We must prepare

to their age and developmental level

symbolic function and understand

students of all ages by using strategies

(see Table 1). Students will learn in one

the ideas of past and future. With this

17 School Safety Guide | SEEN Magazine

age group you can start with a general

door. Showing the wolf as a character

provide information for the educator

understanding of danger and how they

that tries to get the little pigs will serve

to use. The guided practice for this

should respond to the danger. For

as a conduit that there are bad people

age group is performing the do’s of

example, a lesson for this age group

in our communities. The book “I’m

the video. The do’s can range from

can start with a game of red-light green

Not Scared … I’m Prepared,” written

practicing barricading the doors,

light. Using the game as a reference,

by Julia Cook is another example

leaving the classroom to the rally

you start to explain that when they

of using characters to tell a story at

point, or demonstrating why and

stop, they should listen to the teacher.

an age appropriate level. The book

how you can distract the intruder.

At this age, vocabulary such as “Safety

uses the Sheep, Shephard and Wolf

Training Ninth – 12th Graders

inside,” “Safety outside” and the

metaphor. These are all characters

Students in the ninth through

importance of listening to the teacher

the students can relate to which

12th grade levels are in the formal

or aid is introduced. Guided practice

helps the students understand their

operational stage of cognitive

is an interactive learning process by

roles. This book is also accompanied

development according to Jean Piaget,

engaging the students with similar

by a workbook providing the guided

renowned children’s developmental

tasks they will expect to know later in

practice portion of the lessons. The

psychologist. In this stage of

the lesson. These will help the student

physical approach for this age group

development, the students begin to

in retaining the knowledge they need.

of students is performing drills and

think abstractly and reason about

An example of guided practice is

activities to support the strategies of

hypothetical problems. They begin

showing the students how they can

barricade, evacuate and distraction.

to use deductive logic or reasoning

exit the room when the danger is in

Training Fourth - Eighth Graders

from general principals to specific

the building. Activity pages can be

Students in the fourth through

information. You can use the same

used for independent practice or even

eighth grade levels have developed

approach as the stop and do video to

evaluation of the lesson. For example,

cognitively to begin to think more

provide the information and guided

a cut and paste coloring project

logically about concrete events and

practice of the do’s. Critical thinking

representative of the lesson.

situations. They are leaving behind the

drills can be added at this level. These

stories and are ready for conversation

drills will allow students to feel like a

where they feel they can provide

part of the solution and encourage

the answers. A good approach may

them to solve the problems. A critical

be putting together a “Stop and Do”

thinking drill is defined as a question

video. The SRD (school resource

of concern, such as “You are in your

deputy) PJ Mauldin and Alachua

fifth period class. You hear over

Florida school district developed a

the PA that there is a student who

great video that is shared with the

entered the building by the band

students about emergencies and

room and is carrying a gun.” Now

what to do. Deputy Mauldin tells

you can have a discussion with the

the viewer to stop the video and

students on what should be done.

perform what was just referenced

Allow the students to discuss and

in the video. This type of resource

provide reasons why they chose the

can keep the student’s attention and

particular response. Allowing the older

Training Kindergarten – Third Graders At the kindergarten through third grade level, students have a general understanding of emergencies and can provide basic assistance. Start with a “Teacher may I” style of activity or game. Allowing students to play a game that relates to your lesson makes the learning fun and interactive. Stories such as the Three Little Pigs can be used to explain the importance of a good barricade of the classroom

18 School Safety Guide | SEEN Magazine

students to be part of the response

percent of videos depict some type

Product Management and an ALICE

will help them to feel empowered

of violence (Federal Commission on

National Trainer at ALICE Training

should they encounter a violent event.

School Safety, 2018). Our children

Institute. He holds an Associate’s in

Today’s society is pressing schools,

have grown up in this era of school

Criminal Justice, B.A. in Technical

law enforcement, parents and the

violence, most parents have not, and

Education, and a M.A. Ed. in

community to come up with a plan

parents tend to place their own fears

Instructional Technology. He has 23

on how to prepare for a violent

on their children. We need to protect

years’ experience in Law Enforcement

critical incident such as an active

our children by providing them the

with 20 years with the University of

shooter or violent intruder. It can be

tools to respond to danger. In order

Akron. Cunningham held the Lieutenant

disheartening and scary for parents

to remember training or information,

title, led the community policing,

to discuss this topic with their kids,

it helps if you see it, hear it and do

CHOP unit, was the lead trainer for the

especially the youngest ones, but if

it. The students need to perform the

department and a prominent member

we don’t, our children are not going to

drills to understand what they can

of SWAT. He is a certified instructor in

be prepared. I hear many times that

do. Having this in mind, we need to

Defensive Tactics and Active Shooter

“we don’t want to scare the kids.” Kids

make sure that all our faculty, staff

Response. He was a member of the

are resilient. It has been estimated

and students are prepared when

committee that composed the Solo

that 68 percent of video games, 60

facing a violent, man-made disaster.

Officer Response to Active Threat. Chad

percent of television shows, and 15

Chad Cunningham is the Director of

has trained more than 70,000 people.

19 School Safety Guide | SEEN Magazine


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21 School Safety Guide | SEEN Magazine

misinterpreted comment on social media outlets by an administrator, a childish prank or a major fire with death and destruction, schools must be prepared to handle the avalanche of questions from media, parents and taxpayers. While everyone understands that a crisis may happen, educators will be judged by how they handled it.

If a crisis hits your schools, are you ready to communicate? By DAVID R. VOSS President, Voss & Associates Recent high-profile shootings at schools remind us that it could happen anywhere, anytime. The question is: Are you ready? While the extreme cases capture the national media’s attention, the reality is that crisis situations happen every day in our schools.

At Voss & Associates, we have experienced everything from tragic shootings to a cruel joke. We learned valuable lessons when Hurricane Charlie destroyed or severely damaged eight of the 14 schools in Charlotte County, Florida, or when a frantic 6th grader was interviewed by the media to announce a tragic shooting in Palm Beach County. Since that time, we have trained hundreds of educators and created dozens of Crisis Communications Plans. Most school districts have an Emergency Preparedness Plan, explaining procedures and remedies for managing crisis situations. But very few have a clearly understood Crisis Communications Plan. A good plan simplifies the process, spells out exactly who’s in charge, and provides tips and training for communicating critical messages before, during and after the crisis. The first rule of thumb is that there is only one

Some minor incidents are blown out of proportion by the media,

spokesperson. During a crisis, no one should speak to

partly because schools didn’t communicate it pro-actively, getting

the media except the official spokesperson, usually the

ahead of the story. Whether it’s a fender-bender bus accident, a

superintendent, the principal, or the public information

22 School Safety Guide | SEEN Magazine

officer. This avoids conflicting stories, the

promise frequent updates to avoid

during a crisis situation. Do you have a

release of premature information, and

a media frenzy. Someone should

plan? Do you have sufficient training?

potential liability lawsuits down the road.

monitor the media to check for

If not, contact an expert in crisis

accuracy and correct misinformation.

communications to help you prepare.

Spokespersons must be trained in the art of clear and coherent messages

Most importantly, today’s technology

delivered in a calm and compassionate

allows school districts to communicate

David R. Voss is president of Voss &

voice. This takes practice. Role-playing

directly to parents and stakeholders

Associates, a full service communications

in front of cameras is the only way

during a crisis. Phone notification

company with its heart in education.

to prepare for such an event. They

systems, Twitter and Facebook, eBlasts,

His online communication courses

must know the public record laws,

blogs and websites should be fully

cover crisis readiness, social

how to control the message, provide

leveraged during a crisis situation. Fact

media, media relations and public

emotional comfort, and disseminate

sheets with background information

speaking. He writes localized Crisis

only accurate information as it

are prepared before a crisis to answer

Communications Plans and provides

becomes available. This means avoid

basic questions. Updates are added

onsite training for school districts across

speculation, exaggeration, blame or

as information becomes known.

the country to help them prepare.

answering hypothetical questions.

Someone has to be in charge of that.

Web: Online

The Crisis Communications Plan

All district administrators should be

Courses: communicatingeducation.

designates restricted areas for media

asking whether they feel confident that

net. Contact: david@vossandassociates.

access. The spokesperson should

they are ready manage communication

net. Phone: 941-650-4614.

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Having an emergency preparedness

information should be clearly available

response team should include key school

plan in place is expected of all school

throughout the school so that even a

personnel such as the principal, teachers,

districts and facilities. It’s expected, as

visitor to the premises would be able

school nurse, counselor and custodian

well, that all students, parents, faculty

to follow it. The plan should envelope

staff. Each person should have clear

and staff know the plan and how to put

situations like school violence, weather

defined roles in an emergency.” The

the plan in action if needed. These are

disasters, injury or illness, hostage

center goes on to say information about

the steps you must have for a successful

situations, fire safety and terrorist activity,

a school crisis response team is typically

school emergency preparedness plan:

and even gas leaks or water problems.

located on a school districts website.

1. H ave a plan. Seems like a

Schools should also be able to make

no-brainer, but many people still

a plan for situations that may occur


stumble on this vital first step.

on a community or national level.”


TeAch-nology states in their article


“Steps to Take in School Emergency



Preparedness” that this is key. The

2. C ommunicate the plan to everyone. When everyone


article says, “While simple, schools must

It’s important to note that

outline specific problems complete

knows the plan and how to

communication doesn’t just stop at

with fictional situations so that staff

execute the plan, there is a

the school level. Communicate the

can become familiar with the plan.

greater chance lives are saved.

plan also with local law enforcement

This plan should include easy access

The Center for Health and Health

and parents. This communication

to emergency personnel as well as

Care in Schools says schools should

(evacuation routes, alerts and warnings,

evacuation regulations and plans. The

develop a crisis response team, “The

etc.) informs these parties enough to

24 School Safety Guide | SEEN Magazine

act quickly in the event of a crisis.

procedures in order to familiarize all

• Where faculty and

3. P ractice the plan. It’s vital

school personnel with it. Periodically

staff should report;

to regularly conduct emergency

remind staff of signals and codes.”

• Why these actions are necessary

and crisis drills. Every student,

to ensure the safety of students,

teacher, administrator and faculty


staff and faculty; and

member should participate

• How the response will be managed

Three very basic steps most school

in these drills and take them

districts should already have in place,

during an emergency crisis incident.

seriously each and every time.

but steps that deserve to be constantly

(Source: Managing a School Crisis,

In an article entitled, “Practical

tweaked and perfect for the safety of all.

Using the Standardized Emergency

Information on Crisis Planning: A

Here’s a quick recap of an emergency

Management System, SEMS. Los

Guide for Schools and Communities,”

response plan and the key

Angeles County, Office of Education.)

the U.S. Department of Education

components of the plan itself:

advises the following: “At least once a

• Who will carry out specific responsibilities;

year, provide crisis response training for teachers and staff. Also provide

Preparation is key in any emergency situation and given our school climates today — preparation is necessary.

• What actions or activities

Refer to federal organizations like

make-up trainings for those unable

need to occur following an

FEMA and the CDC for additional

to attend the regular training session.

emergency crisis incident;

guidelines and resources for your

Go through the crisis plan and

• When the plan will be activated;


school emergency preparedness plan.

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25 School Safety Guide | SEEN Magazine

Fire Safety In Schools: What Your Facilities Need To Have In Place

Today educational facilities are re-

With statistics like these, it

pull or the extinguisher access

vamped with wonderful aesthetics

goes without saying that fire

be blocked or hidden.” Having

and state-of-the-art technology,

alarms, smoke detectors,

proper access to alarms and fire

but oftentimes the basic facility

fire extinguishers, sprinkler

extinguishers could mean the

needs can be initially overlooked.

systems, and fire escapes are

difference between life or death.

The need to equip your facility

key components to the safety of

(“Fire Codes for School Buildings:

with safety protection systems is

everyone on school grounds. The

An Overview,” Whirlwind Steel,

key to creating a safe environment

NFPA notes that a working alarm

January 2014,https://www.

for staff and students. Fire

cuts the risk of dying in a reported

safety is one of those pertinent

house fire by half. Installing


protection systems that should

and regularly maintaining fire


be incorporated in your facility

alarms is essential to keeping

planning and upgrades.

kids and property safe (“School

According to the National Fire

Safety:Fire Prevention Week,”

Protection Association (NFPA)

Safe and Sound Schools, https://

fire departments respond to an


average of almost 5,000 school


fires every year. Almost 70 percent


of these fires occurred in schools

Experts and safety inspectors

serving kindergarten through 12th

strongly suggest fire alarms

grade and resulted in 351 injuries.

and fire extinguishers undergo

(“Developing a Fire Safety Plan for

routine maintenance in order to

Your Schools, Jan.10, 2019,https://

perform as needed. On Whirlwind

Steel’s blog, they caution that


“in no instance should the alarm

Fire Safety: School Building Codes and Regulations When it comes to adhering to facility building codes and regulations, there are fire codes and regulations to closely follow as well. Safe and Sound Schools suggest you know the following about your facility occupancy and activity — key to getting everyone out safely in case of a fire. When the last time the building

Continued on Page 28 26 School Safety Guide | SEEN Magazine

27 School Safety Guide | SEEN Magazine

replace it. Similarly, walls must go all the way to the deck. Holes in the ceiling must be patched to maintain its fire rating. Also, if a pipe is put through a firerated wall, the hole can be sealed with fire-rated caulk.” (“School Building Codes: A Basic Guide For Facility Managers”, Ellen Kollie, 2007, https://webspm. com/Articles/2007/12/01/SchoolBuilding-Codes-A-Basic-Guide-forFacility-Managers.aspx?Page=1) These regulations and standards are especially important for administrators and facility managers to check-off as they make sure the building is safe.

The Exit Plan For all the building preparedness, there is no substituting a smartly, executed evacuation plan. was thoroughly inspected?

Also, per School Planning and

Where critical signage is

Management, experts in the

located, such as exit signs

article “School Building Codes: A

and evacuation routes.

Basic Guide for Facility Managers,”

suggest checking for fire ratings.

How many people can fit

in the building as a whole and in

They say many schools were

classrooms and staff rooms?

designed with hallways and

(“School Safety:Fire Prevention

corridors to be fire rated —

Week”, Safe and Sound Schools,

which means “hallway doors are


rated and labeled so that when


replacing a door, a quick look


at the label makes it simple to

28 School Safety Guide | SEEN Magazine

Teachers, administrators and staff should all know the importance of routine fire drills — and make sure their students know the importance of the drills as well. Viewed by many today as a small break from class, there have been too many instances where fire alarms weren’t a break at all — but a real instance of safety. It’s important to make sure everyone knows the protocol to get out and get home safely.

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3 Ways to Make This School Year Safer Than Ever By Hillary Bowling Keeping staff and students safe can

safety now, you can relieve some

media, talking through practice

be like a gray cloud always looming.

of the burden and feel confident

scenarios to look for threats, digging

As an administrator, certain

throughout the entire school year.

deep into your own environment

questions might start to stack up

Here are three ways to make this

to find “problem areas” before

as you think about this school year:

school year safer than ever:

they become problem areas,

How can I train staff and educate students effectively while checking all the boxes of state-mandated compliance? How can I track student behavior closely enough to see patterns and respond to warning signs? How can I handle the inevitable incidents that may happen — and avoid as many as possible? Much like the weather, school safety feels hard to predict and impossible to control. However, if you start taking small steps toward

30 School Safety Guide | SEEN Magazine

Identify Ways to Make Safety Collaborative Every burden is made lighter by sharing it. Truth is, the responsibility of safety needs to be felt by every single staff member. A culture of safety is only pervasive when every individual makes the decision to actively promote safety and take their own safety education

even bringing students into staff meetings to understand new places/apps/etc. with which students are interacting. Since every district culture is different, however, make a list of ways you can involve others. Maybe you can even brainstorm ideas with a few other school officials.


Create a Plan for How to Handle Incidents

So how do you rally your

Planning to avoid incidents is more

stakeholders and staff? Practical

compelling than thinking about how

ideas include leveraging social

to handle them. But sometimes,

success stories.

this year, they’ll be better equipped

accidents happen. Knowing what

Make a list of three people who have

to learn more productively than

you’ll do — and communicating that

handled safety really well, and three

ever, too.

plan to staff, parents and, when

people who have had to deal with

appropriate, students — makes

incidents beyond their control. Take

everybody feel safer.

them to lunch. Then incorporate

This is especially important in a

their good ideas into your plan and

culture where there are major

share it with your team.

incidents happening in other schools.

If your students feel safer than ever

Gun violence, for example, was

Hillary Bowling is the marketing manager of PublicSchoolWORKS which provides complete, online safety and regulatory compliance programs for K-12 schools. A version of this blog originally appeared on the PublicSchoolWORKS website (https://

higher in 2018 than it has been since 1970, according to the Center for Homeland Defense and Security at NPS. When a school shooting occurs, even across the country, everybody feels more vulnerable and fearful. Having a plan to address a school shooting or incident at another school is as deeply impactful as knowing what to do if a student is choking. Every good plan, of course, should include not only a resolution to a problem but a next step to move forward. One way is to offer your staff quick refresher courses that cover a host of “everyday” incidents from insect bites to slips, trips and falls.

Take Time to Educate Yourself One best practice is reading about other schools that have had success in streamlining safety management or preventing student crises, and how they have built a culture of safety. There is likely an opportunity to look up other administrators in your state and share challenges and

31 School Safety Guide | SEEN Magazine


32 School Safety Guide | SEEN Magazine