Comprehensive School Safety
Dear County and District Superintendents and Charter School Administrators:
COMPREHENSIVE SCHOOL SAFETY: TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES,
UPDATES, AND RESOURCES
As the new school year gets underway, we are aware that effective school safety planning and emergency preparedness are among educators’ most critical responsibilities. The California Department of Education (CDE) is committed to helping you and your schools become as prepared as possible and to maintain safe and secure school environments year-round.
Comprehensive School Safety Plan Revisions and Approval Due March 1, 2017
This letter serves as a reminder that per California Education Code sections 32280–32289, developing, revising, and updating comprehensive school safety plans through a collaborative process and obtaining school district or county office of education approval are required annually by March 1. School site councils or their designated safety committees must work with educators, classified staff, parents, first responders, and community leaders and must consult with law enforcement to ensure these plans are effective and current. Great work has already been done, but as schools revise safety plans, school leaders should ask:
- “What more can we do to protect our students?”
- “How can we develop expertise in design and implementation of effective plans?”
- “How can we expand our collaborative efforts and communication efforts?”
- “How can we better share effective practices?”
Schools and districts must comply with California Education Code sections 32280–32289. It is your responsibility to ensure ongoing compliance with requirements.
Training for Developing Emergency Operations Plans
To assist schools and districts in preparing for emergencies and in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) Technical Assistance Center, the CDE is sponsoring statewide trainings titled Developing Emergency Operations Plans: K–12 101: Train-the-Trainer.
Sessions are designed for master trainers who will train site-based emergency operations planning teams in counties and districts. The first training was hosted by the Sacramento County Office of Education on September 12. The second training will be hosted later this year by the Orange County Office of Education with details coming soon. Please encourage your teams to participate; important federal guidance on school emergency management is presented. Valuable online and Webinar trainings are available at http://www.rems.ed.gov/.
Active shooter and assailant incidents on school campuses are, alarmingly, on the rise. It is critical to prepare for these types of emergencies in schools and school communities, and we must be ever more vigilant. Invite your local law enforcement agencies and local Office of Emergency Services staff to provide training and guidelines on this topic for school staff, volunteers, families, and community members.
October is Bullying Prevention Awareness Month
This month is recognized by schools and communities throughout the world as a time to come together to raise awareness for bullying prevention, to educate ourselves and others on the pernicious effects of bullying, and to recognize our roles and responsibilities in addressing this serious issue.
This year marks the tenth anniversary of National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month. Since 2006, the event has grown to an entire month of education and awareness activities worldwide. I ask you to take time to learn more about what you, your staff, parents, and communities can do to extinguish this trend and promote healthy and safe schools. Please visit the National Bullying Prevention Center at http://www.pacer.org/bullying/ for more information.
School and Community Safety Advisory Committee
In February 2016, I convened a School and Community Safety Advisory Committee of statewide stakeholders. The committee meets year-round to identify gaps and share exemplary practices, build and strengthen partnerships and communication strategies, and enhance safety and security measures in our schools and communities.
Members include teachers, administrators, superintendents, classified staff, parents, school resource officers, law enforcement, fire agencies, school nurses, higher education, mental health experts, students, parks and recreation organizations, cities and counties, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the National School Safety Center, and personnel from the CDE. The committee serves to increase communication among critical stakeholders and their local and statewide networks and to disseminate information and resources statewide.
I urge you and your staff to review the resources in the attached document and thank you for your hard work to ensure the safety of our students. If you have questions regarding this letter, please contact Nancy Zarenda, Education Programs Consultant, Coordinated School Health and Safety Office, by phone at 916-445-8441 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
School Safety Planning
California Department of Education’s annual update requirements, School Safety Plan Self-Monitoring Tool, and school safety issues and resources: http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/ss/vp/safeschlplanning.asp
Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools Technical Assistance Center of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Safe and Healthy Students’ New School Year Emergency Management Planning—The Role of School Districts: http://nida.seiservices.com/rems_email_blast/rems_enews_fall/rems_enews_fall.html
Active Shooter Preparedness
National Association of School Psychologists and National Association of School Resource Officers’ Best Practice Considerations for Schools in Active Shooter and Other Armed Assailant Drills: http://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources/school-safety-and-crisis/best-practice-considerations-for-schools-in-active-shooter-and-other-armed-assailant-drills.
Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools Technical Assistance Center of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Safe and Healthy Students’ Responding to an Active Shooter Situation: http://rems.ed.gov/K12RespondToActiveShooter.aspx
U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Active Shooter Preparedness: https://www.dhs.gov/active-shooter-preparedness
California Governor’s Office of Emergency Planning’s Active Shooter Handbook: https://www.caloes.ca.gov/AccessFunctionalNeedsSite/Documents/CalOES-active-shooter-awareness-Feb-2018.pdf
U.S. Department of Education’s Bullying Prevention Summit: https://www.c-span.org/video/?413905-101/bullying-prevention-summit-opening
U.S. Department of Education’s Bullying, Harassment, and Civil Rights: https://www.stopbullying.gov/blog/2014/09/03/new-video-resource-bullying-harassment-civil-rights.html
StopBullying.Gov’s Prevention at School: http://www.stopbullying.gov/prevention/at-school/index.html
Sexual Misconduct Policy
The White House’s new guidance on sexual misconduct in schools: https://www.justice.gov/ovw/protecting-students-sexual-assault.