School Safety Planning:
Role of School Board and Superintendent
ReadySchool leverages School Boards and Superintendents in School Safety Planning
What does the School Board and the Superintendent have to do with School Safety Planning? At first glance, this might appear to be a simplistic question. However, the answer may be more complex as we “peel away” the required groundwork that must be accomplished to create an effective School Emergency Plan.
In an article published on May 24, 2023, in Campus Safety, titled “The Role of School Boards and Superintendents in Crisis Management”, the article addresses how, in any school emergency, both the School Board and the Superintendent are ultimately accountable for School Safety planning. Five crisis management traps to avoid are detailed:
- Not having a strong crisis communications plan
- Leading by headlines
- Focusing on politics rather than student and staff recovery
- Not vetting business partnerships
- Saying ‘yes’ when you should say ‘no’
This article provides sage advice and ReadySchool shows specifically how to address the above listed points. Strong leadership, as leveraged by the Superintendent and the School Board, is key as school personnel begin the task of crisis management planning. The ReadySchool guidebook shares step-by-step directions for developing your school’s unique plan to effectively handle ANY school emergency.
In the ReadySchool training you will learn how to set up a School Emergency Team (SET) and how to choose a strong leader for the team. The SET includes several key people who are tasked with specific areas of responsibility. While there are more than two main roles on the School Emergency Team, two become highly important in the area of Communications. The Safety and Security Officer (SSO) directs communications between school staff on the ground during a crisis. The Public Information Officer (PIO) directs outside communication to parents, families of staff, and the local media. These roles are key in providing communication during the actual crisis as well as communication to all stakeholders involved. Effective communication, internally and externally, is a high priority in conveying and establishing trust within the entire school community.
The ReadySchool training provides numerous appendices with sample reports and sample plans. Having trouble vetting business partners? Chapter Eleven discusses networking with other schools and agencies. Appendix K provides a sample Memo of Understanding (MOU) for schools to document the many agencies, businesses, and partner schools' distinct roles and responsibilities. Specifically, the MOU may be used with outside agencies to provide a plan for how the agency would provide support.
For example, the ReadySchool training features the Beyond Lockdown curriculum by the Center for Personal Protection and Safety (CPPS). CEN Safety Security expert, Dan Graeber, says “ The ReadySchool and Beyond Lockdown is the most complete program when fully utilized for any school. It sets up all necessary ‘Emergency Parameters’ for your school to meet FEMA compliance. With the addition of the Beyond Lockdown curriculum in the ReadySchool training, you empower students, faculty and staff, security or law enforcement, and parents and guardians to proactively watch for the signs of concerning behaviors which may lead to violence, or extreme violence”.
The ReadySchool process is complex and tailored to each individual school and district. How effective and detailed the planning becomes is directly related to School Board and Superintendent leadership and support for the process. A key line in the closing of the Campus Safety article sums up School Board and Superintendent's importance in effective crisis response. “When it (board and superintendent leadership) becomes interlinked with a positive learning environment that includes kind, caring, and trusted staff, the school will be more prepared, empowering administration, educators, and students alike to own their own safety.”
As an added benefit, the ReadySchool training provides experts to assist your school in developing its own Emergency Operations Plan leveraging the benefit of input from your Superintendent and School Board.
If you have questions for Audrey Burgher, former Principal and co-author of the ReadySchool training or Dan Graeber, trainer of Beyond Lockdown and Safe Schools: Contact Us Today!