Leadership magazine Sept/Oct 2018 V48 No. 1 - Page 20

A practitioner’s thoughts on school safety By making safety routine, all stakeholders in the school community will benefit. 20 Leadership Safety in schools is a major con- cern for all stakeholders in a community. Safety is a multi-faceted topic, and is not just about having a plan. It includes making sure that staff and students know how to respond to potential threats, assessing threats, miti- gating those threats and communicating to stakeholders after an incident. Administra- tors are the key piece in developing a plan, communicating the plan, assessing potential threats and finding solutions. In California, all schools are required to develop a school safety plan. Having a func- tional safety plan is different than having a safety plan in a binder that sits in the office. In my district, we have site safety plans that are disseminated to all staff. We review the plans with staff at the first faculty meeting of the year and review safety topics at every fac- ulty meeting. We also conduct drills often and then evaluate our response during those drills. Administrators should be aware of how the first responders in their community will respond to an incident at their school. I oversee five schools in a district of 2,162 students. Four of the schools are in the city’s sphere of influence for law enforcement pro- tection, but only two are in the city’s sphere of influence for fire services. The other two schools are in the Cal Fire service area. The fifth school in the district is in the sheriff ’s department jurisdiction for law enforce- ment services and in a small fire district for fire services. Every agency has different ap- proaches to responding to emergencies in their areas. Administrators should contact those agencies and meet with them to dis- cuss the school’s safety plan and make sure it aligns with how law enforcement and fire will respond to incidents at their school. It is also a good practice for first responders to familiarize themselves with the school. In my district, both fire and law enforcement are familiar with the physical layout of the school and have copies of our safety plans and campus maps. The local sheriff ’s office uses the schools to practice active shooter scenarios and training their K-9’s when school is in recess. I schedule facility walkthroughs with site administration, the facility/maintenance supervisor, and the Chief Business Officer. We develop a list of facility priorities during those walk-throughs with site administra- tion and then the maintenance supervisor, CBO and I prioritize resources to address facility concerns. In a walkthrough this past fall, one of the principals pointed out that four of the surveillance cameras were not working and that people were entering the school after hours and stealing from the vending machine. We were able to fix the cameras in a short time and fence the area in the quad where people were entering cam- pus. We also were able to make sure the sur- veillance camera had an unobstructed view By Dr. Corey Willenberg