School safety plans due by the end of the month
(Calif.) Local educational agencies face a deadline less than one month away to update their school safety plans, which includes a requirement of parental involvement.
While student safety has always been a priority among district managers, the focus on improving school climate has never been stronger. Both the state’s new Local Control Accountability Plans and the new federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, mandate school climate for accountability purposes.
The school safety plans, as outlined in California law, call for clear policies not only governing incidents of violence or natural disasters, but also addressing hate crimes, bullying and other forms of discrimination and harassment.
Each school and county office of education is responsible for the development of a comprehensive safety plan for all schools that serve students from kindergarten to the 12th grade—this requirement includes charter schools too.
School districts or county offices are required to review and approve the plans by March 1.
It is important to note the role of the schoolsite council in the process. The schoolsite council, which can undertake a variety of duties, is the key panel in the writing of the safety plan.
Each schoolsite council must include the school principal, or designee; a teacher to represent the certified staff; a parent whose child attends the school; and one classified employee. Additional members can be appointed.
The council is required to consult with local law enforcement agencies in the preparation of the plan.
As party of the best practices, the California Department of Education has provided some resources for school manager to review.
As the work should be well underway, CDE officials also provided some key questions that need to be considered before plan submission:
- Did our local educational agency (LEA) conduct drills and exercises effectively, and what did we learn from them?
- Has our LEA developed and maximized relationships with first responder agencies and community partners?
- Are all of our educators and school staff trained and prepared for emergencies?
- What areas need plan improvement and what resources do we need to build capacity?
According to a 2016 report from the California State Auditor, the number of active shooter threats almost doubled since 2012 to 27.
Figures from the Federal Bureau of Investigation show that active shooter threats are also much more common nationally.
The FBI examined 200 active shootings from 2000 to 2015 and found that kindergarten through grade 12 facilities and institutions of higher education were the second most common location of active shootings. Out of that pool, the FBI found that 45 took place in K–12 facilities and institutions of higher education.
In California, there were 22 active shootings from 2000 through 2015, six of which occurred at K–12 facilities or institutions of higher education. Of the 45 active shootings in K–12 facilities or institutions of higher education in the United States that the FBI documented, 18 or 40 percent, took place between 2000 and 2007, while 27 or 60 percent, took place during the second half of the study period which ended in 2015.