Tag Archive for: school safety

Six people were killed Monday when a Chattanooga school bus with 35 young children aboard crashed, turned on its side and wrapped around a tree, according to the district attorney. Read the article: Official: 6 dead in Chattanooga elementary school bus crash

1Recently, I received an email from a parent asking me, “What can I do to help Safe and Sound Schools? What can change to improve school safety?” It’s the same question that I receive from everyone I meet online and on the road – from parents to students to teachers to first responders.

As I think about this question, it brings me back to when Alissa and I first started Safe and Sound Schools. We never imagined that 20 beautiful and innocent young students and six dedicated school staff and teachers would lose their lives to a horrible tragedy on December 14, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut. We never imagined that our own children, Josephine and Emilie, would be among the names of the children killed that day. We never imagined how much our lives would change, including those of our families and the world around us.

We just knew that after what happened, we had to do something. We had to make sure that what happened at Sandy Hook didn’t happen anywhere else.

In creating Safe and Sound Schools, Alissa and I believed that we needed to educate communities and empower them to make school safety a priority. But through our travels, we found out that school safety issues varied from state to state, city to city. Communities want resources. Students want to get involved in the school safety conversation. Parents want to know what steps and policies are in place to protect their children at school. First responders want to be prepared for any type of crisis that happens at a school. And we want everyone to be safe and sound. But how do we get there?

To provide more resources, get students involved, and continue the school safety conversation online and on the ground, we need your help. We cannot do this work alone. We need everyone to be a part of the Change for School Safety. By collecting loose change and saving it as donation to give on #GivingTuesday (November 29), you can make a difference in school safety.

photos-for-change-blog-2

  • Continue to travel to communities and empower them to put school safety first;  
  • Develop and share  student-centered programs that will encourage students to speak out and do something about school safety issues affecting them; and
  • Connect with school administrators, mental health and emergency professionals, and parents with the resources they need to keep their schools and students safe and sound.

There is so much work to be done. But in the words of Richard Bach, we know that “a tiny change today can bring a dramatically different tomorrow.”

Will you be part of the change for school safety?

To find out more about being a part of Change for School Safety, click here.


Michele Gay, Co-founder & Executive Director of Safe and Sound Schools

School Nurse, Helen Bailey of Cold Spring, Kentucky, reflects on her focus on school safety at the start of another school year.

Summer IS always too short for this school nurse! I treasure the lazy days of summer spent with family and friends. However, just like the students, I must face the reality of back to school.

In fact, I am thinking of back to school even during my summer break. Over the summer, I obtain my 14 hours of continuing education required for my nursing license. On a more personal level, I maintain contact with my students who have Type 1 Diabetes by inviting them and their families for a swim party at my home. This at-home connection helps the students feel more comfortable coming to me during the school year.

So here we are. Back at school. This year, my goals focus on safety.  In July, I attended Michele Gay’s 4-hour presentation on school safety. She was the keynote speaker at the Kentucky Firefighters Association conference.  Six faculty and staff from our school attended.  We are preparing to present at the next faculty meeting to share what we learned that day.

My number one goal has always been the safety of our students.  But now, I am even more informed. For instance, as I leave one building to go to the next for a parent meeting on food allergies, I take the extra second to make sure the door is locked behind me.  When I am checking a blood sugar before snack, from time to time, I will take that student with me to practice a lockdown drill.  As I fill in at the front desk for our secretary, I answer the door and ask visitors to provide their name and reason for their visit as they sign in and get a badge.  I teach CPR and the use of a defibrillator while making certain everyone has access to our defibrillator on the ball field.

Our school administration and the school board are acutely aware of school safety.  Many measures have been implemented to improve the safety on our campus.  More changes are on the horizon.  I am proud to belong to a team that strives to keep our campus as safe as possible, from the individual health needs of our students all the way up through the entire school community.

I wish everyone a safe and healthy school year!

Helen Bailey, RN
School Nurse
Cold Spring, Kentucky

carin_head-sqOn September 8, 2001, Michael Iken sat down with his wife Monica and told her that he had a feeling that he was going to leave this earth suddenly. He did not know how this would occur, but the feeling was strong. Michael told Monica that he had no regrets, that he loved her deeply and that he felt at peace. Three days later, he died in the second tower of the World Trade Center.

Five days after the tragic events of 9/11, I met Monica Iken for the first time, through my uncle, one of the only survivors at Euro Brokers. He was Michael’s best friend.

While talking with Monica and hearing her story, a clear vision came to me: one of Monica as a leader and spokesperson for a Memorial at the World Trade Center Site. When I shared this with her, Monica shrugged it off saying “That’s impossible. I am a kindergarten teacher. I love my job, and I plan to keep teaching.”

Ten years later, in the spring of 2011, I watched Monica live on CNN, speaking at Ground Zero beside President Barack Obama and former Mayor Giuliani. Monica, now the CEO of September’s Mission, was representing the 9/11 families participating in the building of the Memorial. Watching Monica on television, I felt a profound sense of interconnectedness. I witnessed a sense of grace demonstrated by those that overcome tragedy with resilience, service, and love.

In the wake of this profound experience, I reconnected with Monica and shared with her my vision for creating a curriculum for schools, designed to decrease high-risk behavior, violence and bullying, while addressing social and emotional challenges. We discussed a shared goal of creating this kind of program for NYC schools, and Monica expressed that this was very much in line with the goals of September’s Mission.

Years later we continue to work together. Mission Be reaches more and more schools with a message of forgiveness, resiliency, strength and hope. And now in partnership with Safe and Sound Schools, we look to reach school communities across the country.


Learn more about Carin as a speaker and workshop presenter on our Safe and Sound website and at Mission Be.

Schools across the nation have spent the summer preparing for a safe school year.  Among those preparations, many schools are examining and introducing new protocols such as those designed to protect students and staff in an active assailant (intruder or attacker) scenario.

Recently, a mother reached out for perspective following the introduction of active assailant training at her daughter’s middle school. This mother (we’ll call her Susie) is well-educated, informed on community and school issues, and lives in an excellent school district. She received an email from her child’s school about the new program and learned that school staff had already been trained and were prepared to introduce the program to students the next week. Although surprised at the quick turnaround, Susie recognized the threat of an active assailant at school as a rare one, but like most parents, she could not help but be concerned about the possibility.

When Susie’s daughter came home from school after the training, Susie asked her how it went. “Well, basically Mom, it’s every man for himself,” replied the young girl.

Determined to remain calm and objective, Susie took a deep breath and gently pressed for more information.  “How did my daughter walk away with that idea?” she wondered.  Susie knew one thing for sure: this was not what the school staff had intended.

We encouraged Susie to share this experience with the school to help staff better develop and deliver safety protocols, instruction, and training.

Throughout the process, Susie shared some key takeaways with us:

  • Parent Education and Preparation: Susie first learned, via email, about the upcoming training only one week before introduction. Parent meetings, forums for discussion, and plenty of notice allow for questions, alleviate fears, and build community around new programs.
  • Parent Support: The school’s initial email provided parents with some conversation starters to facilitate discussion at home. Susie found this helpful in preparing her daughter ahead of the training. Though afterward, Susie didn’t receive any follow up about how it went or how she could support this new learning at home. Follow-up conversation guides can help parents support student preparedness and monitor their child’s adjustment to new protocols.
  • Opportunities for Discussion and Feedback: Susie’s daughter said the training made her feel better about getting to safety in an emergency; but, her daughter had lots of questions following the training. Inviting student (and parent) questions and observations following instruction and/or training is essential to any school-based programming.
  • Student Support:  Susie learned that teachers introduced the new program along with the school guidance counselor. This let Susie know that the school was attending to the social-emotional needs of students through the process.  Guidance and monitoring from school-based mental health providers (i.e. guidance counselors, psychologists, and social workers) can help identify specific student and staff needs for such instruction and training.

We encourage schools to learn from experiences like these, keep parents and students actively involved, and continually examine programs and practices in order to move forward together for safer schools.

Check out these related resources for educators and parents:

The Lockdown Drill, Who Let the Dog In? and Police In Our School, children’s books by Deputy Becky Coyle

Safe and Sound Tools for Safety Education:
Developmental Levels of Safety Awareness
Hierarchy of Education and Training Activities
Stay Safe Choices

Best Practice Considerations for Schools in Active Shooter and Other Assailant Drills from NASP and NASRO

 

Michele Gay, Co-founder and Executive Director of Safe and Sound Schools

Don Bridges (left), president of the National Association of School Resource Officers is pictured with Michele Gay, co-founder and executive director of Safe and Sound Schools, at the Campus Safety East Conference in Washington, D.C.

Safe and Sound Schools is honored to partner with Campus Safety Magazine as a proud sponsor of the Third Annual Campus Safety Conferences in the East and West.

The Campus Safety East Conference kicked off in Washington, D.C. on July 25-26. The Safe and Sound Schools team was in attendance. 

About the Conferences

The Campus Safety Conferences bring together industry thought leaders and solution providers. Education and training workshops cover a wide range of topics including emergency preparedness, threat assessment, crisis communication, sexual assault, social media monitoring, mental health, and more. Presenters offer best practices, drawing on real experiences, events, and current safety concerns. In addition to attending conference sessions, attendees have the opportunity to participate in hot topic discussions and meet with companies showcasing safety and security products, services and technologies.

Attend the Campus Safety West Conference

It’s not too late to mix and mingle with school safety experts and industry colleagues. The Campus Safety Conferences offer a great opportunity for attendees to hear from a variety perspectives. Interested folks can still sign up for the Campus Safety West Conference, in Long Beach, California, taking place this August 9-10.

As with the Campus Safety East Conference, our team will also be attending the Campus Safety West Conference. Stop by our booth and use the hashtag #CSWest16 so we can learn about your experience.

By Kevin Quinn

Earlier this week, in Part 1 of this blog discussion, I described two primary considerations schools need to address when thinking about arming school staff members. In today’s post, I will pose some additional thoughts and questions related to the discussion.

Carry or Secure

Staff members permitted to carry or access a weapon discover a lot of new responsibilities and considerations. Carrying a concealed weapon everyday isn’t as easy as un-tucking your shirt; and maintaining both security of and access to the firearm is not always simple.

  • Will permitted staff members carry a firearm at all times or will they secure the weapon (until needed) during the day?
  • What is the best means to secure the weapon and still enable access in an emergency?
  • Do local laws allow for carrying a weapon? Are individuals permitted to “open carry” or must the weapon be concealed?

Force Considerations

Police officers have other options for force in situations where use of a firearm would be unsafe or inappropriate. Impact weapons, chemical weapons, electronic control devices, and control and restraint techniques are several examples. In a crowded school hallway, the use of a firearm may not be a realistic or safe option.

Other Concerns

In addition to these major questions, there are multiple administrative concerns to address:

  • Is the school district prepared to absorb the increased cost of insurance?
  • What types of weapons and ammunition will be authorized?
  • How often will training and certification be provided for civilian staff members?
  • Who will pay for the costs associated with purchasing firearms, ammunition and training staff?

Another Option: SROs

Although placing School Resource Officers (SRO) in schools can be a financial and logistical challenge for many districts, I believe the best option for enhancing school safety is the presence of a properly trained SRO.

An SRO is a sworn officer, fully certified, properly equipped, and trained to deal with safety crises that may arise on school campuses. These officers also have direct radio contact with other responding officers during critical incidents. Further, SROs are available to guide and instruct students and staff in a variety of important areas of safety (e.g. driver safety, basic first aid, bike safety, drugs, etc.), as well as establish positive and supportive relationships with students.

Instead of trying to stop a “bad guy with a gun” with a “good guy with a gun,” I suggest we focus on providing schools with a sworn police officer, trained as a School Resource Officer.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Kevin Quinn is a 20-year veteran police officer and SRO in Arizona and the former President of the National Association of School Resource Officers. He is the current President of the Arizona School Resource Officers Association as well as an advisor to several school safety organizations. He can be reached on Twitter @klah316 or email kquinn@asroa.org.

By Kevin Quinn

There has been much talk about school safety and active shooters. One solution discussed at great lengths is arming school staff to deter and respond to an active shooter. Some people say the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. I wish it were that easy, but there are several considerations to take when the topic of arming school staff members arises. For today’s blog, I will discuss two primary issues, identification and training. In Part 2 of this blog post, I will cover the remaining issues.

Identification

schoolsecurity-6c52aaecAs a police officer, I wear a uniform that identifies me to other officers and the public. Even if responders can’t see my face, they know I am not the suspect and can react accordingly when locating the threat. Unfortunately, teachers do not dress any differently than regular civilians and do not stand out in a crowd at a school – especially high schools and colleges where the students are older than elementary school students.

Furthermore, when officers arrive at the scene of an active shooter, our first goal is to end the violence. As we attempt to locate the suspect, we look for someone with a weapon. Imagine we come across Mr. Jones, the math teacher, in the hallway with his gun drawn. Chances are, Mr. Jones will be detained until his identity can be confirmed. That is, of course, if Mr. Jones doesn’t react in a way the officers deem a threat. In that case, there is a possibility of injury. But here’s another alarming variable –time – precious time that officers should be spending locating and apprehending the suspect.

Training

How much training will the armed staff members receive when the program is put into place? How much on-going annual training will they receive? How many hours will a staff member train before being allowed to carry a gun in schools? Depending on the location in the country, I have heard everything from eight to 24 hours of firearms training. It is important to realize that being able to shoot holes in paper does NOT mean you are ready for a potential deadly-force encounter. That readiness comes with intensive force-on-force training, decision-making scenarios, and high-stress combat shooting.

As you can see, identification and training alone raise several questions we need to consider before deciding to arm our school staff members. Look for Part 2 of the blog post, later this week.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Kevin Quinn is a 20-year veteran police officer and SRO in Arizona and the former President of the National Association of School Resource Officers. He is the current President of the Arizona School Resource Officers Association as well as an advisor to several school safety organizations. He can be reached on Twitter @klah316 or email kquinn@asroa.org.

#100DaysOfSafetyHappy 4th of July. I hope you are reveling in the warm summer days. Whether you have just finished up the year, or are preparing to return, it’s never too early to think about how to do better in the next school year.

Our teachers are already thinking about new lesson plans and teaching strageties. Our parents want to help their students be more successful in the new school year. And our administrators are looking at ways to improve the educational experience and overall school performance.

Here at Safe and Sound Schools, we never stop thinking about ways to improve school safety. That’s why this summer, we’re providing daily tips to help provide you with some new ideas. Check out our #100DaysofSafety campaign on social media. It just takes one small idea to make a big difference.

During these few shorts weeks of summer, we wish peace and quiet, time with your loved ones, and an opportunity to rethink school safety and recharge for the year ahead.

Keep up with #100DaysOfSafety on our Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

– Michele Gay

OS5A2515June is already drawing to a close.  Most of us are still wondering, “How did the school year go by so quickly?”

Maybe we’re just getting older.  In our defense, I hear the kids saying it too.

It’s the sign of a great school year.

Teachers are closing up their classrooms, parents are pushing the sunscreen, and kids are switching to low power mode. It’s summer.

Yet some of us are already looking ahead to next school year.  In fact at Safe and Sound Schools, summer means getting to work with some of our favorite community members: administrators, safety directors, school officials, emergency managers, law enforcement, and school resource officers.

This June, Alissa and I met with law enforcement officers in Florida, SRO’s in Tennessee and Wyoming, and will soon head to California to meet with emergency managers and responders.

I first spoke to a room full of these folks in April of 2013 at the Massachusetts Juvenile Police Officers Association (MJPOA), in Norwood, Massachusetts.  Though the President of the organization, now a great friend, insisted that my message be brought to the group of 400+ SRO’s, I really wasn’t sure what I had to offer.

I’m a mom, a former teacher, and the mother of three beautiful girls. My youngest was killed at Sandy Hook on December 14, 2012. My second survived, hiding in a closet with her teacher and classmates, and my oldest waited in “hard lockdown” for hours for news that she would never receive: that we were all alright.

Yes, I have a story.  I can grab the heart of a room full of people with it.  But I wondered, “What do I have for trained safety professionals?”  “How can I help them do what they are trained and called to do?”

That April morning, I stepped up to the podium to address a room full of SRO’s.  I wondered if they could see me standing behind it.  I felt so small.

I opened my mouth and the words came out.  My experience, my perspective, my observations. It was what I had to offer.

It was the beginning of a relationship between school resource officers and our fledgling foundation, Safe and Sound Schools. Since that day, folks like these have taken my experience and Alissa’s, our perspective and our observations, and made schools and communities safer.

Since that spring, we have steadily reserved our summers for law enforcement, emergency managers, school safety teams, and school resource officers.  By listening and learning from them, I can develop more powerful resources to make it easier for them to be effective in schools. For example, SROs have a better understanding of how to speak to teachers, students and parents. They also feel appreciated by the community.

This year, it was our privilege to offer full day Safe and Sound School training to the SRO’s of Tennessee and Wyoming, and to share our story with the many of the finest law enforcement officers in Florida.

We’ll continue with these efforts and close the month with the emergency mangers of California.  Together, by working with our School Resource Officers, we can accomplish great things.

So yes, summer is finally here, but our work for a safer school year–for safer futures–It’s only just begun.

– Michele Gay