The approaching Labor Day Holiday weekend means that “Back to School” is right around the corner! For parents, that used to mean purchasing the endless list of school supplies, new school clothing, arranging transportation and after school activities, and most importantly, meeting new teachers. Now there is a new priority that has firmly replaced the latest back-to-school trends: School Safety & Security.
Security professionals across the country working in the education industry think daily about school safety and security following the tragedies at Columbine High School, where 12 students and one teacher were murdered and 24 were injured in 1999, or Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT., where 20 children and six adult staff members were fatally shot in 2012. While there have been many other tragedies at schools across the country, Columbine and Sandy Hook serve as standing reminders that sending our loved ones off to school, public or private, demands thorough vetting by parents and caregivers the school’s security and safety process. Below are just some of the questions that should appear on every parent’s Need to Know check list:
- Who is the person in charge of making security decisions for the school? What is their training & experience?
- Will I have access to that person if I have questions or problems arise, etc.?
- What security measures does the school have in place to protect the children? Does the school have an emergency handbook? How was it created? Is there a copy available for parents and caregivers?
- Are student’s trained for emergencies? How is this training conducted and who conducts it?
- Does the school conduct pre-employment checks for its faculty and staff? How are these checks conducted?
- Does the school have a zero tolerance bullying policy to protect my child? If so, what is that policy?
Be aware, however, obtaining answers to your questions can be tricky. Many school administrators find it a balancing act to communicate with parents and the school community on the topic of school safety.Too much information may call for more extreme security measures and panic, while too little information may suggest not enough is being done to address safety and security concerns. And many parents are unaware of how to phrase their concerns and questions so as to elicit the information they seek.
With many schools in our client portfolio, Integrated Security Seices, would like to share seven (7) additional points that parents can include in their conversations when raising the issue of school safety and security to a school administrator and/or other parents:
- Does my child’s school have a comprehensive emergency response plan?
- Is there an access control process for visitors and guests?
- How will I receive information during a school emergency?
- Does my school have a Student Code of Conduct?
- Does my school maintain a confidentiality policy for reporting security and safety issues?
- How are security & safety decisions made, and by whom?
- What, if any, advanced technologies are there at my child’s school to support communication and electronically monitor day-to-day activity.
Make sure that school safety and security is part of the conversation with any school that your child attends!