Virtual Summit brings together the nation’s top school safety leaders to discuss critical issues, best practices, and practical solutions for schools.

 

SANDY HOOK, Conn.—School safety professionals across the United States and internationally will mark National School Safety Week October 18-20 with Safe and Sound Schools at the virtual 2022 National Summit on School Safety, presented with Premier Partner Navigate360. The Summit features three days of inspiring keynotes, discussion breakout groups, and live expert panels from more than 30 of the nation’s top experts and practitioners, addressing the critical safety challenges today and the practical solutions available to school communities. Registration and information is available at www.safeandsoundschools.org

The opening keynote features Michele Gay, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Safe and Sound Schools, and Frank DeAngelis, retired principal of Columbine High School. The pair will explore the elements and experiences that helped them move forward after tragedy and loss, put pain to purpose, and transform post traumatic stress into post traumatic growth.

Other featured sessions include:

  • Missy Dodds, educator, shares her personal journey of navigating life after a school shooting. Through the pain, guilt, and hard decisions she is open and honest about her struggles and successes, and how she now defines acceptance. Missy’s story gives listeners hope and courage that a person can, by doing the work, find the strength to progress from a victim to a survivor.
  • Steve Gross, Founder of the Life is Good Kids Foundation, examines the power of optimism. Chronic stress, fear and overwhelming adversity can weaken and destroy our capacity for optimism. This inspiring presentation helps individuals discover the healing power of optimism to create safe, joyful, & engaging environments where children and staff alike-can heal, learn, and grow.
  • Dr. Beth Sanborn, School Resource Officer and Juvenile Detective for Wissahickon School District in Montgomery County, PA discusses indicators of poor lifestyle choices among teens and pre-teens. She showcases stash devices meant to hide, deceive, and conceal drugs and drug paraphernalia including vapes, CBD, and THC. 
  • Dr. Stephen Brock, author, professor, College of Education at California State University, Sacramento introduces a multi-tiered system of support (or MTSS) approach to suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention, to help all members of the school community engage in powerful and proactive ways to address the challenge of student suicidal ideation and behavior.

About Safe and Sound Schools

Safe and Sound Schools is a nonprofit organization, founded in 2013 by parents who lost children in the Sandy Hook shooting. The organization offers a variety of tools for crisis prevention, response and recovery that are available to schools nationwide. Safe and Sound Schools works with school communities and mental health, law enforcement, and safety professionals to teach best practices and ensure the safest possible learning environments for children, educators, administrators, and parents. To access programs and experts who can address the multitude of issues that impact safety, visit www.safeandsoundschools.org

About Navigate 360

Navigate360 is the leader in holistic safety and wellness solutions. The company’s comprehensive, holistic offerings span the full spectrum of safety, including threat detection and prevention, mental health and wellness, and safety management and preparedness—backed by research and developed by industry experts. The company provides the tools necessary to empower people, schools, and communities to stay safe and thrive. Learn more at www.navigate360.com.

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According to survey results, nearly one-third of students reported not feeling safe at school and all groups surveyed reported needing more mental health and social-emotional support.

 

NEWTOWN, CT, July 25, 2022 – A national survey and report released by Safe and Sound Schools with Raptor Technologies and Lightspeed Systems surveyed school leaders, public safety, mental health, teachers, parents, and students identifying gaps in feelings and perceptions about school safety, in particular with students.

In general, most groups feel schools are safe. However, students express the greatest concerns over feeling safe physically and emotionally. This suggests a strong need for schools to focus on identifying early indicators of concern so they can offer support well before a student proceeds down a path of harm to self or others. Re-education on safety procedures and enhanced reporting and managing of low-level indicators may be necessary to build confidence in students’ safety and wellbeing.

“Now more than ever, it is critical that school communities engage all stakeholders–– from students to superintendents––in conversation and decision-making to protect our most sacred spaces and precious community members, our schools and our students,” said Michele Gay, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Safe and Sound Schools.

The survey also revealed that all groups perceive a rise in substance abuse, depression, and anxiety among students in this given school year. However, significant perceptual differences were reported among parents who indicated the lowest perceptions of increase in all categories compared to the other groups. The survey shows a disconnect between student and educator perceptions of the handling of bullying and cyberbullying, with students reporting lower confidence.

“Students are telling us: they need more help,” says Brian Thomas, CEO of Lightspeed Systems. “We know bullying and other social challenges commonly predicate violence and self-harm or exacerbate depression and anxiety. Together we must listen to our students, identify the early warning signs, and intervene before students cause harm to themselves or others.”

These differences in responses reveal a need for community-wide conversations, outreach, and education to increase knowledge, engagement, and confidence for all members of the school community.

“This report indicates an opportunity to reinforce the importance of early intervention when it comes to student struggles with mental health, peer-on-peer abuse, and other challenges” stated Gray Hall, CEO of Raptor Technologies. “Proactive support for students is the only way for schools to make sure they are providing the wraparound services students need to achieve their best outcomes.”

Other findings from the survey include:

  • All groups are extremely concerned about mental health crises, bullying/peer- on-peer abuse, substance abuse as well as neglect/abuse at home and even basic needs.
  • Only 60% of students felt their school or district was prepared to support students who are being bullied at school or online.
  • 79% of students perceived an increase in depression, compared to parents at 60%.
  • All groups chose school counselors, school nurses, and SROs as the primary resources to keep students safe, with the support of tools and technology such as visitor management, tip lines, and social media scanning.

The Safe and Sound Schools 2022 State of School Safety Report consisted of a national sample of 816 parents of school-aged children and 881 middle and high school students (including diversity of age, geography, race, and gender), 837 school stakeholders (including teachers, administrators, staff, and school-based wellness and behavioral health professionals), and 418 public safety officials and leaders with a sampling error range of +/-4 to 5 percentage points. The Boston University College of Communication compiled the interviews and data.

About Safe and Sound Schools

Michele Gay and Alissa Parker founded Safe and Sound Schools in 2013, following the tragic deaths of their children at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Safe and Sound Schools works with school communities and mental health, law enforcement, and safety professionals to create and ensure the safest possible learning environment for all youth. The non-profit organization delivers crisis-prevention, response, and recovery programs, tools, and resources backed by national experts to educate all school community members, from students and parents to teachers and administrators, to law enforcement and local leaders. Winner of the 2015 New England Business Association Innovation Award for non-profits, Safe and Sound Schools continues to answer the growing needs of school communities with custom programs, assessments, and training, reaching schools in every state in the country. For more information, visit www.safeandsoundschools.org.

About Lightspeed Systems®

With over 20 years of providing technology to meet the needs of schools, Lightspeed Systems® is the market leader in online student safety and effectiveness. The purpose-built Lightspeed ecosystem of cloud-based solutions—tailored to meet today’s evolving challenges—provides schools worldwide with the most effective web filter, student safety monitor, classroom management software, device management tool, and analytics program available. Lightspeed Systems is a proven partner for schools, serving over 20 million students in 39 countries and 28,000 schools globally. To learn more, visit www.lightspeedsystems.com.

About Raptor Technologies®

Founded in 2002, Raptor has partnered with over 50,000 schools globally, including over 5,000 K-12 US school districts, to provide integrated visitor, volunteer, emergency management, safeguarding, and early intervention software and services that cover the full spectrum of school and student safety. To learn more about Raptor Technologies, visit www.raptortech.com.

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“Especially Safe” program created in response to research demonstrating lack of school safety protocols inclusive of those with special needs.

SANDY HOOK, Conn.—Safe and Sound Schools announces the launch of Especially Safe, a training program and companion teaching guide designed to help schools better meet the needs of students, teachers, and other staff with special needs facing a variety of safety threats in educational settings. The program was developed in response to research conducted by the organization that demonstrated a lack of focus on those with special needs when crisis response plans are developed. Especially Safe is available for download at safeandsoundschools.org

“Especially Safe provides an inclusive approach to school safety,” said Michele Gay, co-founder of Safe and Sound Schools, whose daughter, Josephine, was a victim of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012. “Joey was an amazing child with many special needs as a student with autism, apraxia, and motor impairment. In hindsight, a painful lesson from Sandy Hook was that these students, among the most vulnerable, are often overlooked in the safety planning process. Whether it’s autism, those with temporary mobility challenges, individuals who have experienced trauma, or other physical or mental challenges, Especially Safe ensures crisis response and reunification plans work to protect everyone at every level of need.”

To support the launch of this critically important program, Safe and Sound Schools is hosting a webinar, sponsored by Raptor Technologies, on February 11 at 2:00 p.m. EST, called Especially Safe, an inclusive approach to safety preparedness in educational settings. Training tools and teaching ideas that expert practitioners have developed will be discussed in detail. To register, visit safeandsoundschools.org. 

In addition, Gay recently hosted a podcast, part of the Safe and Sound’s Sound Off! series, with guest Nick Savarese, executive director of the Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism. They explore how that organization helps individuals and families affected by autism and how staffing challenges in schools are impacting special needs programs. The podcast is available on the Safe and Sound website or the podcast platform of choice for listeners, including Spotify, iTunes, and Google Podcasts. 

National research, conducted in the fall of 2021 by Safe and Sound, in concert with Raptor Technologies and the Jeffco/Deangelis Foundation, found that more than 50 percent of students and more than 25 percent of parents felt there were no specific crisis plans in their schools for special needs students. To address this critical gap, the Especially Safe program offers planning, preparation, teaching, and training guidance and resources that address safety planning for this especially vulnerable group. 

Especially Safe focuses on several core areas:

  • Creating safety planning teams that include a variety of diverse perspectives and expertise from multiple disciplines such as educators, school resource officers, nurses, mental health providers, parents, and custodians. 
  • Identifying the special needs of individuals by regularly surveying parents and staff, including special educators, counselors, psychologists, social workers, and nurses, to help identify students, children, staff, volunteers, and families who may have additional support needs. 
  • Building individual teams to address individual needs. These should include parents, bus drivers, aides, paraprofessionals, teachers, nurses, counselors, emergency response providers, and any additional support staff who work with identified individuals. 
  • Creating the Individual Safety Plan (ISP) to document required safety accommodations and an action plan for different scenarios or safety threats. 
  • Sharing the plan with all staff working or interacting with identified individuals during a crisis. 

According to Gay, Especially Safe addresses transportation and mobility; emotional, mental, and behavioral health; auxiliary communication; medical needs; and security and supervision. “The program is designed to evolve continually, and we welcome input and sharing of experiences, personal knowledge, and ideas that will make our efforts even stronger. This is a mission that requires all hands, hearts, and minds to ensure every member of our learning communities are safe and sound.” 

About Safe and Sound Schools

Safe and Sound Schools is a nonprofit organization founded in 2013 by parents who lost children in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. The organization offers a variety of tools for crisis prevention, response, and recovery that are available to schools nationwide. Safe and Sound Schools works with school communities and mental health, law enforcement, and safety professionals to teach best practices and ensure the safest possible learning environments for children, educators, administrators, and parents. To access programs and the organization’s panel of top national experts who can address the multitude of issues impacting school safety, visit safeandsoundschools.org

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Survey conducted by Safe and Sound Schools and Raptor Technologies shows only 65% of parents believe schools are proactively improving safety awareness versus 95% of School Administrators

NEWTOWN, CTJuly 13, 2021 – A report developed by Safe and Sound Schools and Raptor Technologies, based on a nationwide survey of school district administrators, public safety staff, teachers, parents, and students, has identified significant gaps in attitudes about school safety. The 2021 State of School Safety Report shows students and parents are less confident than administrators in critical areas, including a 30-point gap when asked if their school takes a proactive approach to safety awareness.  Concerns include how proactive schools are regarding student and campus security, how the school community would respond in a campus emergency, and preparedness to reunify children with guardians following a crisis.

The report reveals a distinct difference in understanding of the steps schools are taking to address parent and student concerns about safety. Additionally, the survey generated feedback on topics such as how schools handled the COVID-19 pandemic, apprehension about the mental health of returning students, and the overall preparedness of schools to handle emergencies.

As students return to the classroom this coming fall, concerns around safety and security are top of mind.  The most significant discrepancy demonstrated by the survey was the level of confidence district administrators and security personnel have in tackling safety issues compared to the confidence levels of students and parents. For instance, where 86% of administrators feel prepared for an active shooter event in their district, only 51% of parents and 44% of students feel the same. Additionally, where 85% of security personnel and 87% of administrators feel prepared to handle mental health emergencies, only 44% of students and 45% of parents feel that school districts have the right resources in place.

“In all the years of doing this report, this is the largest disparity between respondent groups that we have seen,” said Michele Gay, Founder and Executive Director of Safe and Sound Schools. “The report highlights there is a real disconnect, or perhaps a lack of communication, between districts and families, which the pandemic may have exacerbated.”

Other key findings from the survey include: 

  • 98% of administrators believe they handled the COVID-19 crisis well, whereas only 74% of parents agree
  • 89% of district safety personnel agree that they have a plan for post-emergency reunification of students and guardians, whereas only 45% of parents agree
  • 92% of administrators feel they have adequate safety measures within their district, and only 67% of parents agree
  • 91% of district safety personnel state that they have a distinct safety plan for children with special needs, whereas only 70% of parents agree

“This report makes it clear that districts need to improve communication within their communities on how they plan to deal with emergencies and mental health challenges in the coming school year,” stated Gray Hall, CEO of Raptor Technologies. “There is an opportunity to help parents and students better understand the measures school districts are actively taking to tackle these problems through policies, procedures, and technologies that keep kids safe.”

The Safe and Sound Schools and Raptor Technologies “2021 State of School Safety Report” summarizes findings from surveying a nationwide sample of 615 parents of school-aged children and 599 middle and high-school students (including diversity of age, geography, race, and gender), 512 school stakeholders (including teachers, administrators, staff, and school-based wellness and behavioral health professionals), and 374 public safety officials with a sampling error range of +/-4 to 5 percentage points. The Boston University College of Communication compiled the interviews and data.

Safe and Sound Schools will host a live broadcast discussion on July 15 at the National Association of School Resources Officers (NASRO) National School Safety Conference in Orlando, Florida. Panelists include Mo Canady, Executive Director, NASRO; Susan Payne, Founder, and Former Executive Director, Safe2Tell; Elizabeth Brown, Principal, Forest High School, Ocala, FL; Donna Michaelis, Director, Virginia Center for School and Campus Safety; and Ian A. Moffett, retired Chief of School Police and District Security, Miami-Dade County Public Schools. To register, visit the State of School Safety Live Panel.

 To download a copy of the report, go to the 2021 State of School Safety Report


About Safe and Sound Schools

Michele Gay and Alissa Parker founded Safe and Sound Schools in 2013, following the tragic deaths of their children at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Safe and Sound Schools works with school communities and mental health, law enforcement, and safety professionals to create and ensure the safest possible learning environment for all youth. The non-profit organization delivers crisis-prevention, response, and recovery programs, tools, and resources, backed by national experts, to educate all school community members, from students and parents to teachers and administrators, to law enforcement and local leaders. Winner of the 2015 New England Business Association Innovation Award for non-profits, Safe and Sound Schools continues to answer the growing needs of school communities with custom programs, assessments, and training, reaching schools in every state in the country. For more information, visit safeandsoundschools.org.

About Raptor Technologies®

Raptor Technologies is driven by its mission to protect every child, every school, every day. Founded in 2002, Raptor has partnered with over 35,000 K-12 U.S. schools to provide integrated visitor, volunteer, and emergency management software, fulfilling a broad range of school safety requirements. Raptor also offers contactless COVID-19 health screenings and contact tracing reports, helping schools reopen and keep students, staff, and visitors safe. To learn more about Raptor Technologies, visit: www.raptortech.com

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Bethesda, MD—The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO), and Safe and Sound Schools (SASS) have partnered to release updated guidance on conducting armed assailant drills in schools. The author organizations represent key stakeholders in school safety and crisis planning, preparedness, and implementation. This includes school-employed mental health professionals, school security and law enforcement, school administrators, other educators, and families. We have expertise and extensive first-hand experience with the most effective approaches to keeping students and staff safe on a daily basis and in crisis situations. We are committed to supporting school communities’ understanding and implementation of best practices related to this work. 

 The new version of Best Practice Considerations for Armed Assailant Drills in Schools updates and builds on the guidance released by NASP and NASRO in 2014 in response to the rapid rise in the use of intensive and highly sensorial armed assailant drills following the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School. In the years since, school districts across the country have continued to seek ways to improve prevention and preparedness related to the possibility of an armed intruder on campus. Many states have legally mandated armed assailant drills without providing much guidance, which has contributed to confusion about the differences between lockdown, options-based training, and full-scale simulation drills, as well as growing concern over the unintended harm caused by conducting drills inappropriately. 

 Ensuring that drills are conducted appropriately is particularly urgent as many schools across the country are returning or planning to return to in-person learning. Students and staff will be relearning safety protocols in the wake of what has been a very stressful, even traumatic, year for many individuals and school communities. It is imperative that safety drills of any kind do not unintentionally trigger or exacerbate students’ or staff sense of risk or trauma. 

 “While the statistical probability that a school will experience an active assailant event is extremely low, concern about the possibility is high because school shootings do continue and are devastating when they occur,” notes NASP Executive Director Kathleen Minke. “Our goal with this document is to provide school leaders and relevant emergency responders with the critical considerations to help schools determine to what extent they need armed assailant training and to conduct trainings that make best use of resources, maximize effectiveness, and minimize physical and psychological risks.” 

According to Mo Canady, Executive Director for the National Association of School Resource Officers, “Armed assailant drills became much more commonplace after 15 highly publicized deadly shootings in schools in the late 1990s, culminating with the massacre at Columbine High School. We had very limited guidance on how to conduct drills related to this new phenomenon, and we certainly made many mistakes as we sought to develop plans and drills intended to keep students safe. This guidance is a culmination of lessons learned as well as a collaborative effort with a strong focus not only on the physical safety of students, but their psychological safety as well.” 

The guidelines recommend that schools engage in simple discussion-based exercises before conducting drills. If and when such drills are held, schools must consider factors such as developmental maturity, psychological history, prior traumatic experiences, personality, and special needs of participants. All participants should have a chance to opt out as long as alternative preparation is provided. Additionally, participants should be notified in advance of all planned activities included in the drill. Parental permission should be required for all students. Staff should be trained to recognize common trauma signs and monitor participants during the drill, and all participants should have access to school-employed mental health professionals after the drill’s completion. The document includes a hierarchy of education and training options as well as a review of levels of developmental safety awareness. 

According to Michele Gay, Sandy Hook mother and Executive Director of Safe and Sound Schools, “School communities have successfully conducted drills for fire, weather, and earthquake for decades, preparing students and staff for safety in a variety of crisis scenarios. Yet many have struggled with active assailant drills, causing avoidance, confusion, anxiety—and in some cases physical and psychological harm. With this guidance, we aim to provide a clear, practical, ‘no drama-no trauma’ approach to teaching and training students and staff for the complex threat of violence in the school setting.” 

Authors also point out that any armed assailant exercises should be considered as only one component of a comprehensive approach to school safety and crisis response. Given resource realities for many schools, training should meet the specific needs of the school and community, and more intensive, full scale drills should be conducted with careful consideration of the potential costs, risks, and benefits involved. The new guidance seeks to aid schools in coming to an informed decision regarding the best approach for them. 

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Status Solutions affirms its continued support for Safe and Sounds Schools to increase public awareness of safety and security in schools.

New York, New York – February 10, 2020Status Solutions, the pioneering provider of enterprise situational awareness technologies, announced that the company will renew its partnership with national school safety nonprofit, Safe and Sound Schools.  Since 2016, Status Solutions has partnered with the nonprofit to advance Safe and Sounds Schools’ mission to protect school communities through crisis prevention, response, and recovery.  

“This partnership is a testament to Status Solutions’ longstanding commitment and service to school safety,” said Michele Gay, co-founder of Safe and Sound Schools.  “Their support ensures that we reach more schools than ever with our message and no cost resources, ensuring that children, educators and communities across the country can foster and maintain safe and positive learning environments for all.”

With Status Solutions’ support, Safe and Sound Schools will expand its contributions to the national conversation around school safety.  Together, the two school safety leaders plan to connect with legislators, assisting with the development of laws and regulations that impact schools across the country.  The partnership will allow Safe and Sound Schools to enhance special programs and initiatives focused on school safety, as well as ongoing research and training conducted by the Safe and Sound Institute.  

Status Solutions has been dedicated to school safety since its inception in 2001. After observing schools across the country struggle with strained resources, growing needs and wide-ranging threats, founder, Mike MacLeod knew schools shouldn’t be solely responsible for safety, technology and financial support. He aimed to find a solution that would lessen the burden on all schools, regardless of their financial standing, and strenghten their whole community. This led to the creation of the School Solutions Network.

School Solutions Network is an initiative that grants schools the right to use Status Solutions’ core situational awareness engine, SARA. This technology helps schools improve their safety and communication by providing staff with the ability to summon help from any browser and to send and receive quick messages. Status Solutions’ technology is customized to meet each schools’ unique needs and to better connect them not only internally, but with local law enforcement and the larger community.

Safe and Sound Schools provides a trusted platform to expand the reach in educating communities about the many Status Solutions services and technologies that help make our society safer.  

About Safe and Sound Schools

Michele Gay and Alissa Parker founded Safe and Sound Schools in 2013, following the tragic deaths of their children at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Safe and Sound Schools works with school communities and mental health, law enforcement, and safety professionals to create and ensure the safest possible learning environment for all youth. The non-profit organization delivers crisis-prevention, response, and recovery programs, tools, and resources, backed by national experts, to educate all members of the school community, from students and parents, to teachers and administrators, to law enforcement and local leaders. Winner of the 2015 New England Business Association Innovation Award for nonprofits, Safe and Sound Schools continues to answer the growing needs of school communities with custom programs, assessments, and training, reaching schools in every state in the country. For more information, visit safeandsoundschools.org.

About Status Solutions

Status Solutions is the pioneering provider of situational awareness technologies for risk management with life safety, security, environmental monitoring and mass notification applications. Our customized software solutions, including the SARA automated alerting engine, ensure the right information reaches the right people automatically for faster, more efficient communication. From emergency alerting and response management to self-service, we help organizations better collect, process, interpret and deliver their data to various portals and dashboards. Real-time, detailed notifications about potential threats to life, property, business and convenience enable customers to prevent ignorance-based loss while transforming their business operations. To learn more about us, please visit www.StatusSolutions.com. To lean more about the School Solutions Network, please visit www.SchoolSolutionsNetwork.com.

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Actor Jeremy Ray Taylor will help the nonprofit kick off national tour and contest focused on promoting a positive school culture for high school students

New York, New York – July 29, 2019Safe and Sound Schools, a national school safety nonprofit, and actor, Jeremy Ray Taylor (It Chapter 2, Are You Afraid of the Dark?) announced today the launch of The “Good Days” Tour campaign and contest. The “Good Days” Tour asks high school students to think about the culture on their school campus, highlighting the important link between a positive culture within overall school safety. 

As part of the back-to-school campaign, Safe and Sound Schools is holding a nationwide contest.  Students may apply for their high school to become a stop on The “Good Days” Tour. This fall, the tour will focus on spreading awareness about school safety practices and fostering an inclusive culture for students in ninth through twelfth grades. Tour stop activities during a school assembly will include: 

  • A SPARK Workshop with Jeremy Ray Taylor
  • Musical performance by Chasing da Vinci
  • Presentations with Safe and Sound Schools’ Michele Gay & Alissa Parker
  • An evening concert for students and families

High school students may visit https://safeandsoundschools.org/tour to submit a video application by August 31, 2019 at 11:59 PST. Safe and Sound Schools will announce three winning high schools to serve as tour stops on The “Good Days” Tour in September. No purchase is necessary and eligible schools must be located in the United States and the District of Columbia. For details about eligibility requirements, official rules and disclosure, please https://safeandsoundschools.org/tour.

Thank you to Proper Food for supporting Safe and Sound Schools in NYC.

About Safe and Sound Schools

Michele Gay and Alissa Parker founded Safe and Sound Schools in 2013, following the tragic deaths of their children at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Safe and Sound Schools works with school communities and mental health, law enforcement, and safety professionals to create and ensure the safest possible learning environment for all youth. The non-profit organization delivers crisis-prevention, response, and recovery programs, tools, and resources, backed by national experts, to educate all members of the school community. For more information, visit safeandsoundschools.org.

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Media Contact:
Azia Celestino
Safe and Sound Schools
acelestino@safeandsoundschools.org

 

Safe and Sound Schools delivers State of School Safety Report 2019, detailing the latest information about school safety issues and recommendations on June 11, 2019

Newtown, Conn. – June 11, 2019Safe and Sound Schools, a national school safety non-profit, today released its State of School Safety Report 2019 in collaboration with Boston University College of Communication.  The report includes contributions to analysis and interpretation from national experts across six key areas: mental and behavioral health; health and wellness; physical environment; school law, policy, and finance; culture, climate, and community; and operations and emergency management.

“Our mission is to protect every school and every student, every day,” said Michele Gay, co-founder and executive director of Safe and Sound Schools.  “The State of School Safety Report furthers that mission each year.  With the support of faculty and students at Boston University College of Communication, we were able to conduct nationally-fielded surveys and gain a deeper understanding of the current views on school safety from all parties involved.  We hope that the 2019 Report will provide more insight into the progress our school communities have made, but more importantly, patterns that point to where we are falling short on a national level.”

Safe and Sound Schools surveyed perceptions of school safety among five groups: students in middle and high school, parents, educators, public safety officials, and community members.  This report’s findings identify several school safety issues that need to be addressed.

In the results pertaining to student feedback, students and educators were asked whether they agree or disagree with the statement, “The school takes student feedback on school safety seriously.”  Opinions from the responding students and educators differed greatly.

While 80 percent of educators surveyed agreed with the statement, only 27 percent of students felt that student feedback on school safety is taken seriously.  In fact, 60 percent of students disagree, and feel that their feedback is not taken into consideration by schools.

These responses are consistent with the 2018 State of School Safety Report, suggesting a lack of progress in this area.  The data points to the imperative for school administrators to prioritize student engagement in the planning process for safety preparedness – not solely in the activities or drills.  Students are almost universally present at school safety incidents, and should be part of the planning for emergency response.

In addition to survey data and further exploration of school safety issues, the State of School Safety Report 2019 provides strategic recommendations and steps schools can take to close the gap between stakeholder perceptions to improve school safety.

For more information, view the full ‘State of School Safety’ Report 2019.

A donation from Bark helped fund the Safe and Sound Schools team’s time to review results, coordinate external reviews, and prepare the final report.  Status Solutions supported the presentation and distribution of this research.

 

About Safe and Sound Schools

Michele Gay and Alissa Parker founded Safe and Sound Schools in 2013, following the tragic deaths of their children at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Safe and Sound Schools works with school communities and mental health, law enforcement, and safety professionals to create and ensure the safest possible learning environment for all youth. The non-profit organization delivers crisis-prevention, response, and recovery programs, tools, and resources, backed by national experts, to educate all members of the school community, from students and parents, to teachers and administrators, to law enforcement and local leaders. Winner of the 2015 New England Business Association Innovation Award for nonprofits, Safe and Sound Schools continues to answer the growing needs of school communities with custom programs, assessments, and training, reaching schools in every state in the country. For more information, visit safeandsoundschools.org.

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Media Contact:

Azia Celestino

Safe and Sound Schools

acelestino@safeandsoundschools.org

 


On May 23, the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) and the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) held a panel featuring Safe and Sound Schools’ Co-founder

Washington, DC – June 7, 2019Safe and Sound Schools co-founder and executive director, Michele Gay, was invited by the U.S. Department of Justice components, the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), and the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), to participate as a panelist in an internal conference focused on the topic of school safety and security.

The purpose of the event was to enhance COPS and BJA staff knowledge of school safety concerns, emerging issues, and promising practices.  In Rethinking School Safety: A Parent’s Perspective, Michele Gay told her personal story as the mother of a child killed during the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting. Reflecting on the tragedy with the attendees, Gay shared how Safe and Sound Schools now works to help communities in identifying key preventative actions and safety solutions- measures that were not in place for her daughter’s school during that crisis.  

The panel was comprised of nationally recognized subject matter experts and practitioners of the most current information available on the topic of K-12 school safety.  Other esteemed panelists included:

  • Dr. Lina Alathari, Chief of the U.S. Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center
  • Mo Canady, Executive Director of the National Association of School Resource Officers
  • Dr. Kelly Vaillancourt Strobach, Director of Policy & Advocacy, National Association of School Psychologists (NASP)
  • Phillip Keith, Director of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS)

Both the COPS Office and BJA support programs that focus on providing funding to state and local education and law enforcement agencies.  These offices work to bring evidence-based programs, strategies and equipment to prevent school violence and increase school security.

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About Safe and Sound Schools

Michele Gay and Alissa Parker founded Safe and Sound Schools in 2013, following the tragic deaths of their children at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Safe and Sound Schools works with school communities and mental health, law enforcement, and safety professionals to create and ensure the safest possible learning environment for all youth. The non-profit organization delivers crisis-prevention, response, and recovery programs, tools, and resources, backed by national experts, to educate all members of the school community, from students and parents, to teachers and administrators, to law enforcement and local leaders. Winner of the 2015 New England Business Association Innovation Award for nonprofits, Safe and Sound Schools continues to answer the growing needs of school communities with custom programs, assessments, and training, reaching schools in every state in the country. For more information, visit safeandsoundschools.org.

About the COPS Office

The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) is the component of the U.S. Department of Justice responsible for advancing the practice of community policing by the nation’s state, local, territorial, and tribal law enforcement agencies through information and grant resources.

Community policing begins with a commitment to building trust and mutual respect between police and communities. It is critical to public safety, ensuring that all stakeholders work together to address our nation’s crime challenges. When police and communities collaborate, they more effectively address underlying issues, change negative behavioral patterns, and allocate resources.

The COPS Office awards grants to hire community policing professionals, develop and test innovative policing strategies, and provide training and technical assistance to community members, local government leaders, and all levels of law enforcement. Since 1994, the COPS Office has invested more than $14 billion to help advance community policing.

https://cops.usdoj.gov/aboutcops

About the Bureau of Justice Assistance

BJA is a component of the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, that helps to make American communities safer by strengthening the nation’s criminal justice system: Its grants, training and technical assistance, and policy development services provide state, local, and tribal governments with the cutting edge tools and best practices they need to reduce violent and drug-related crime, support law enforcement, and combat victimization.

BJA’s mission is to provide leadership and services in grant administration and criminal justice policy development to support local, state, and tribal justice strategies to achieve safer communities. BJA supports programs and initiatives in the areas of law enforcement, justice information sharing, countering terrorism, managing offenders, combating drug crime and abuse, adjudication, advancing tribal justice, crime prevention, protecting vulnerable populations, and capacity building.

https://www.bja.gov/about/index.html

 

On May 22, the School of Education recognized the Safe and Sound Schools Co-founder

 

Baltimore, MD – May 30, 2019Safe and Sound Schools co-founder and executive director, Michele Gay received the Champion in Education Award on Wednesday, May 22 from Johns Hopkins University School of Education.  

Michele Gay, co-founder of Safe and Sound Schools, receiving the Johns Hopkins School of Education Champion In Education Award

The Champion in Education Award honors the accomplishments of an individual or organization who displays leadership and innovation in advancing the quality of education, human services, or public safety.  Recipients are identified by the sitting Dean for their contributions in the field and practice of education.  Some of the past recipients have included: Bill and Sylvia Cohen, Katherine Bradley, the Abell Foundation, and R. Christopher Hoehn-Saric.  

Michele Gay was named the 2019 recipient for her work with Safe and Sound Schools, a national school safety non-profit.  Following the loss of her daughter, Josephine Grace, in the Sandy Hook School tragedy, Gay chose to take action and established Safe and Sound Schools as a national resource for comprehensive school safety education, technical assistance, expert content, and best practices.

With a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Towson State University, Gay earned Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from McDaniel College. Prior to the Sandy Hook tragedy, she taught at the elementary level in Maryland and Virginia public schools.

Now a nationally and internationally recognized public speaker and school safety advocate, Gay reaches audiences and consults with all levels of community institutions — schools; municipalities; houses of worship; educational and public safety leadership; state and federal governments; and law enforcement agencies.  Gay is a regular contributor for top news media outlets. She has been featured on PBS Newshour, CBS Face the Nation, among other international publications.  

Gay’s impassioned position on school safety hinges on every community taking a comprehensive and sustainable approach to safety. She works diligently to unite stakeholders of all disciplines and perspectives. An educator by training — and fueled by the heart of a mother and community member — Gay is uniquely positioned to help others prepare for, prevent, respond to, and recover from tragedies of their own.

Michele Gay remains inspired by Josephine, every day. She dedicates herself to honoring her daughter’s memory through this work to ensure that every school, every child, and every community is truly safe and sound.

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About Safe and Sound Schools

Michele Gay and Alissa Parker founded Safe and Sound Schools in 2013, following the tragic deaths of their children at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Safe and Sound Schools works with school communities and mental health, law enforcement, and safety professionals to create and ensure the safest possible learning environment for all youth. The non-profit organization delivers crisis-prevention, response, and recovery programs, tools, and resources, backed by national experts, to educate all members of the school community, from students and parents, to teachers and administrators, to law enforcement and local leaders. Winner of the 2015 New England Business Association Innovation Award for nonprofits, Safe and Sound Schools continues to answer the growing needs of school communities with custom programs, assessments, and training, reaching schools in every state in the country. For more information, visit safeandsoundschools.org.

About Johns Hopkins University School of Education

Established in 2007, the Johns Hopkins School of Education has quickly taken its place as a national leader in education reform through research and teaching. Grounded in the Johns Hopkins tradition of research and innovation, SOE is ranked among the top graduate schools of education in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.

https://education.jhu.edu/about-us/fact-sheet/