School Safety and Security (SSA)

Safe And Secure School

Safe schools promotes the protection of students from violence, exposure to weapons and threats, theft, bullying, and the sale or use of illegal substances on school grounds.  School safety is linked to improved student and school outcomes. In particular, emotional and physical safety in school are related to academic performance. At the same time, students who are victims of physical or emotional harassment or who are involved in the sale or use of illegal substances on school grounds are at risk for poor attendance, course failure and dropout.

The keys to school security are:

  • Commitment from the Top
  • Performance Accountability
  • Good Relationships with Emergency Responders

Immediate Actions

Some recommendations for local schools administrators to immediately implement from Six Steps for Improving School Security

  • Make security a top priority. All schools must have their current risk assessment plans reviewed and updated by an experienced education security expert and strictly enforce any and all new safety and security policies and procedures.
  • Implement a closed-campus policy. All schools, especially elementary schools, must be closed to outsiders until they are cleared to enter through a single entrance controlled by a video intercom/security. All other doors should remain locked throughout the day. Once a visitor is approved to enter, he or she must check in at the office and present government-issued identification to be screened by a visitor management system that checks databases for registered sex offenders.
  • Finance school security improvements. Properly securing a campus is not inexpensive and may require making difficult decisions to reallocate internal budgets. Both public and private grants may be available to help offset costs.
  • Build strong relationships with local law enforcement. If a district does not already have a regularly assigned officer for each campus, administrators should ask the police chief, sheriff or state police to make special assignments during school hours. Law enforcement response to an emergency needs to be in a range of one to three minutes to be effective.
  • Encourage parents to get involved. Parents can be a tremendous force in lobbying legislators for additional funding for school security. Parents also need to make sure that any firearms in the home are securely stored and properly accounted.
  • Get students and teachers involved in their own safety.Students and teachers are often hesitant to report what they see and hear on campus for fear of retribution. One option is to create a way of communcation that students and teachers can contact anonymously to report suspicious activities.

Security Recommendations:

The following is a compilation of the some of the most common recommendations.

  • Develop campus lockdown procedures and drills. Practice those drills during different times of the day.
  • Consider stronger windows and doors at entrances. Consider perimeter fencing to deter trespassing and to limit access.
  • Limit campus entries, only one entrance and lock entrances when school is in session.
  • Use a vestibule/double entry system with intercom/video call box at main entrance. If possible, make sure when a visitor enters the school, their only option is to go into the school office for visual verification.
  • Implement door access control systems. When someone loses a traditional key, the only way to deactivate the lost key is to rekey the entire building. Card access systems can be implemented as an alternative means to controlled access, allowing you to grant and restrict access to specific areas. You can produce reports on who has accessed each door and when.
  • Implement strong electronic visitor registration with national sex offender and barred list database checks.
  • Accountability and reunification. Have the capability to track people that are in the building and/or at a muster point.
  • Video surveillance systems give greater visibility, and can be integrated with door access control and crisis lockdown systems.
  • Install a crisis lockdown system with communication, notification and panic buttons. Communications include labeled telephones, PA, intercom, two-way radios and cell phones.
  • Install a crisis lockdown system with communication, notification and panic buttons. Communications include labeled telephones, PA, intercom, two-way radios and cell phones.
  • Implement an anonymous tip hotline for the district to be used by teachers, parents or students.

Personnel Actions:

  • Undergo a risk assessment and develop a comprehensive emergency response/crisis plan that is updated yearly.
  • Create an emergency response team using teachers, law enforcement, emergency service personnel, mental health professionals, school counselors, facilities personnel, office personnel, student leaders and parent representation.
  • Work with local first responders and develop close relationships.
  • Involve students and staff, train on situational awareness, and educate parents.
  • Staff monitoring of arrival and dismissal times.
  • ALL students, faculty/staff AND visitors should be required to WEAR an ID badge. Visual identification is a major component of an overall security program. This means that even students must wear their ID while on campus.
  • Designated school personnel arriving at the outside meeting area (muster point) should be responsible for taking a headcount that includes all staff, students, and visitors.
     

Visual Security (ID Badging)

An effective visual security program means that ALL people in the school be identified and wear an ID. In the case of middle and high schools, that also means students.