ELEMENTARY SCHOOL SAFETY, SECURITY, AND CRISIS PREPAREDNESS ISSUES
Incidents of school violence in recent years have touched all grade levels in K-12 school districts. While the typical higher profile incidents of violence typically occur at secondary (middle and high) schools, elementary schools also require our attention in terms of safe school and crisis preparedness planning. Unfortunately, higher-profile incidents can occur at elementary schools, too. For example:
September 28, 1999: Tampa, FL
10 year old fifth grade student shot in head outside of Tampa elementary school
February 14, 2000: Chicago, IL
11 year old student suffered a minor gunshot would when a bullet passed through a wall of his elementary classroom as another 11 year old student was playing with a gun in a nearby restroom.
February 28, 2000: Austin, IN
An adult male shot his estranged wife with a shotgun outside their child’s elementary school as the woman dropped off her daughter at the school. The male then escaped to a liquor store where he took the manager hostage. Both the suspect and manager were found dead by police after a period without contact during hostage negotiations.
February 29, 2000: Mt. Morris Township, MI
6 year old female first grader was killed by gunshot fired by a 6 year old male first grader.
While these are very serious incidents, more common security issues we address at elementary schools include:
- Non-custodial parent issues and domestic spill-over adult issues
- Access control
- Communications capabilities
- Bullying and other aggressive behavior prevention
- Supervision issues
- Crisis preparedness planning
- Physical security and related issues
Elementary school officials should work cooperatively with parents and the broader school community by focusing on these and related safety concerns. We cannot afford to leave elementary schools out of safety and crisis planning.