John McDonald is the Chief Operating Officer for the National Council of School Safety Leadership, a collaborative of the Missouri School Board Association and Safe and Sound Schools. Prior to joining the National Council, John was the Executive Director of School Safety for Jeffco Public Schools in Colorado for 14 years and is recognized internationally as the architect of the Columbine High School post tragedy security and emergency management plan.
Jeffco schools is a district of 83,000 students and 14, 000 employees at the foot of the Rockies in Colorado. While at Jeffco Schools, John created the Frank DeAngelis Center for Community Safety, the first of it’s kind full scale active shooter training center for law enforcement, school safety professionals and educators. To date, more than 8,000 first responders have trained at this nationally known Jeffco Schools facility at no cost.
Over the course of his career, John has conducted hundreds of threat assessments on individuals engaged in proactive and reactive attack behavior. His work with K-12 Schools, Higher Education, Faith based groups and Fortune 100 companies has been well documented internationally.
John has been recognized by the US Department of Education as a subject matter expert on active shooter preparedness, emergency plan development and school/law enforcement collaboration and following the Sandy Hook tragedy, was invited to the White House to speak about creating the model active shooter preparedness, response and recovery program in K-12 schools.
During his time with Jeffco Schools, John led Jeffco’s crisis response to several tragedies including; the 2010 Deer Creek Middle School shooting for which he was recognized as the School Safety Director of the Year, the 2012 kidnapping and murder of 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway while on her way to school. the 2014 tragedy when a high school student intentionally set himself on fire in front of more than 200 classmates and the 2019, 20th Columbine memorial event threatened by a 19 year old woman infatuated with the Columbine killers who traveled from Florida to Colorado prepared to attack.
Throughout his career, John has supported school districts around the country during or in the aftermath of tragedy including the 2013 Arapahoe High School shooting, the Scream Bandit bank robber shooting at Sheridan High School in 2015 and the 2018 school shooting tragedies in Parkland Florida and Santa Fe, Texas.
John has been recognized by CBS News as a Community Game Changer for his work on the front lines protecting kids, and has collaborated on two FBI documentaries “Echo’s of Columbine” and “In the Aftermath”, and was highlighted on the Showtime documentary series Active Shooter, America under Fire.
COO, National Council of School Safety Leadership
John McDonald: Sessions
Tuesday, November 2 | 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm | Breakout Session
Not Every Threat is a School Shooting But Every Threat Deserves Our Very Best
Schools around the country are experiencing critical incidents at a faster rate than ever before but not every tragedy is a school shooting. Learn crisis management strategies for unforeseen events as well as those critical incidents that we worry about every day. Our two presenters have learned hard lessons that have never been shared before. From the incident management perspective to the crisis mental health perspective learn how to take back your school following tragedy.
November 3, 2022 | 11:00 am – 12:00 pm | Breakout Session
Questions School Board Members Should be Asking About School Safety
More details coming soon.
- Presenters: John McDonald, Nancy Masterson, Dr. Erin Maxwell-Meyer, Jonathan Russell, Amy Roderick (moderator)
Wednesday, November 2 | 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm | Breakout Session
School Boards: The Current Climate and Culture and the Intersection With School Safety
This presentation looks at the challenging environment that exists for school boards in an era of frustration, anger and divisiveness as well effective strategies for managing during chaos. The presentation will address the important role a school board has with school safety and school board crisis management strategies following tragedy.