A jury in California recently awarded 3.8 million dollars to a school shooting victim. The school district was ordered to pay 54% of that 3.8 million, a jury finding the school 54% negligent.
Could this happen to your school?
The prosecutor argued that the school did not do enough to protect the student from harm. The school was found to have ignored “red flags” which included threats and a very disturbing violent drawing. Six school employees were also found negligent.
In this particular case, the perpetrator’s family also brought suit against the school district, alleging that they did not follow state laws regarding bullying and sexual harassment.
How can we avoid being caught in this type of situation?
I believe it’s imperative to have safety protocols and processes in place, provide safety training for all staff, and adhere to your school’s protocols for both intervening in bullying and harassment and for assessing indicators of violent thoughts and threatening behavior.
Only then, will we be able to show that we have done our due diligence to protect our students from harm. Of course, we cannot always anticipate the actions someone will take, especially when those actions do not follow our own sense of values or logic. But, we must be prepared to take action when there is even the slightest hint of violence or violent ideology.
To further assess your liability quotient when it comes to school safety, check out these critical points. If you find that your staff is in need of training, or your school needs help developing safety protocols, take a look at this.
I wish you a safe and productive school year!
Small changes really can add up to greater school safety. As we begin the new year and embark on the second semester of our academic year, I find myself thinking about what it really takes to create safer schools for our students and staff. Over the past two decades, increasing research has taught us a great deal about best practices in preparedness, response and intervention.
Here are 5 things you can do now to improve your school safety:
- Take a critical look at your school’s emotional climate to determine whether you are truly providing a safe haven for children and teens. Consider implementing a school climate or safety survey for students, staff and parents, to pinpoint areas that need attention. An extra benefit of this survey is that the data it provides will be extremely valuable for any grant funding you seek.
- Foster a sense of belonging in your school community. Celebrate differences and offer a diverse menu of activities, mentoring and connectedness programs, so everyone has a place to call home.
- Train your staff to identify the signs of those who are struggling so they can support and refer those needing help.
- Review your crisis response plan. Ideally, this should be done every year, and no less frequently than every 3 years. We learn more every day in this field – you’ll want to be sure your plan reflects current recommendations.
- Add a new type of drill. If you haven’t done a reverse evacuation or a lockdown drill in awhile, schedule one today. Then, review the results with your staff so everyone can make adjustments if needed.
This year, I will continue to dedicate myself to working intensively with school districts so each of them can rest assured that they have done everything they can to make their schools a safer place. I limit the number of schools I work with so I can provide highly targeted services. I will have the capacity to add a few selected districts over the next few months.
If you have a school safety question or just want to know more about how I can help your district, simply contact me here.
It’s time for a plan – a safety plan. Do you have one in place? Does it need to be tested, reviewed and updated?
Safety plans should be reviewed annually and updated every three years, at a minimum. Drills and tabletop exercises can point to areas that may need to be tweaked. What sounds good on paper doesn’t always play out that way in reality. Better to find out now that your protocols need adjusting, than during an actual emergency.
If you have decided that it’s time for an updated school safety plan:
There are many resources to help you. Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) provides a wealth of resources to get you started. This past summer, I attended the REMS training of trainers along with several facilitators from the Wisconsin Safe & Healthy Schools Center. Any of us can work with you to help you test and improve your safety plan.
September is National Preparedness Month and school is now underway. What better time to make your school safety plan the best it can be?
The U.S. Department of Education and the Readiness & Emergency Management for Schools Technical Assistance Center (REMS TA) have just unveiled their free web-based application to help you build a personalized High Quality Emergency Operations Plan (EOP).
Here’s how the app helps with an emergency plan:
- Facilitate collaboration among school planning team members
- Compile all emergency management information in a single location
- Access resources and help topics directly through the application interface
- Generate a comprehensive school Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) based on the Federal guidance and recommendations
- Revise the EOP, as necessary, to address changes in state, local, or district policies and/or other factors such as resource availability
- Export and edit the plan for inclusion in school-level and district-level emergency management manuals
- Schedule EOP reviews or meetings, and set deadlines for submitting EOPs
For more information and to install the application on your school district server visit the REMS TA Center website.
If you need personal assistance, you should know that I am a trained REMS EOP facilitator and would be happy to help. Simply contact me here.