Leadership is the key to managing school safety, the presenters
stressed at an Early Bird session on Friday.
“Parents will forgive boards and administrators if your test
scores go down. They are much less forgiving if something
happens to their children that could have been prevented or
better managed,” said Kenneth S. Trump, president of National
School Safety and Security Services, based in Cleveland.
Trump, along with Chuck Hibbert, president of Hibbert Safe
School Consulting in Indianapolis, offered advice on school
security and emergency preparedness:
• School districts should develop emergency plans with input
from police, fire, emergency management officials, or other
• Staff members, including support personnel, such as
secretaries, custodians, and bus drivers, should be trained on
their district’s crisis plans and best practices in school
One of the most important, yet often neglected, element of
school safety is training staff to greet and challenge visitors
and teaching students not to open doors for people and to report
strangers in the hallway.
• School emergency plans should be tested.
“A fancy colored plan with expensive binding sitting up on a
shelf collecting dust is barely worth the paper it is printed on
if staff is not trained and plans are not exercised,” Hibbert
Schools should hold practice drills, such as lockdowns,
during lunch or between classes, not just during first period
when it is more convenient, Trump suggested.
The presenters urged schools to conduct “tabletop exercises”
where district-level and building crisis team members spend a
full day or half a day in a classroom setting with police, fire,
emergency medical, and other community partners. The team
members should talk through hypothetical scenarios to see if the
plans they have on paper might actually work in a real
When considering hiring an outside consultant, the presenters
warned against “doing it on the cheap” or “throwing up security
equipment to appease parents and media.”
Look for consultants with experience in K-12 school safety
who understand the school climate, culture, and school-community
relations, they said.
Among the current trends in school security and emergency
preparedness, the presenters pointed to an uptick in firearms
incidents; officials too quick to close schools in response to
bomb threats or rumors of violence; and violent incidents at
sports events and on school buses.
Finally, they warned school officials to take extra
precautions on Election Day, when a large turnout is expected.
If schools remain open to students, voting should be limited to
the gym, school staff should be visible in the halls, and
security should be coordinated with election supervisors.
Reproduced with permission from School Board News.
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