Many think about crime and violence when they consider school safety. However, there are more safety concerns than those involving guns. The Educator’s School Safety Network 2018-2019 Violence in Schools Report shows a wide array of reported incidents in schools, including suspicious people, gun incidents, fights, and other violent incidents, explosives, and suspicious devices. These safety issues encompass trespassers, attempted abductions, and dating violence.
Even concerns like fire, hazmat spills, or climate concerns need to be tracked, monitored, and assessed. While facilities issues are perhaps less popular in media than violence in schools, they still have the potential to seriously disrupt education. The range of school safety issues is extensive. As a result, many stakeholders are involved.
The Role of Staff
All staff have a lot at stake — the security and well-being of the students in their lives, the educational quality kids receive, and their well-being and security. SchoolSafety.gov, a federal initiative offering schools and districts actionable recommendations, highlights designated staff as an important stakeholder, as the individual or group of individuals responsible for emergency management and effective implementation of safety and security measures. Typically these designated staff members are part of the administration at the school and district levels.
Administrators are responsible for ensuring an entire school or district is functional. All staff has an important role to play as stakeholders, whether they are designated emergency management team members or not. Everyone in a school environment requires training and tools to manage safety concerns as they arise and preemptively track and ideally prevent incidents before they become larger.
These staff members are not just faculty — they also encompass people involved in facilities, transportation, and other individuals and organizations within a school. They can identify vulnerabilities in and around the school or district, including on the grounds and technological vulnerabilities. Many will also be able to share information about school climate and be on alert for changes to the norm.
Students and Families as Stakeholders
Students have a lot at stake when it comes to school safety. Primarily, they need to be secure and have their well-being ensured while learning. Their focus should be on learning and growing as students, not being concerned about what bad things could happen during any given school day.
Some students and families have even more at stake as members of marginalized or disadvantaged groups. Some students may have disabilities, access needs, or functional concerns about emergency management.
Research shows that emotional and physical safety in school is directly related to academic performance. Students who are victims of school violence, harassment, or other safety issues are at risk of poor attendance, failure, or dropping out. Test scores, graduation rates, and attendance rates are all impacted by school safety, which shows what is at stake for students and their families, who want to see them thrive.
First responders, healthcare workers – including counselors and mental health workers – law enforcement officers, and local emergency managers play a key role in school safety. Many are mandated reporters, which means that if they believe there is a threat to a school, they must report it.
Schools typically fall within broader district, local, regional, state, federal or tribal emergency management plans. The input of people involved in these policies, procedures, and activities needs to be included. Local, state, and federal agencies can offer information about historic threats and hazards the surrounding community faces.
Community partners are invested in having functional systems that keep everyone in and around a school safe. When potential incidents are not managed early or a threat goes unchecked, everyone’s job — and everyone’s life — gets harder. Many community partners have a particularly challenging job to perform if an incident escalates, showing how much they have at stake.
Ultimately, all stakeholders want what is best for students, staff, and the surrounding community. In our next article, K-12 Safest Schools: for Superintendents & Administrators – – Why efficient Training & Tracking of safety issues is fundamental, we’ll explore how all of these stakeholders can play a part in reporting incidents. Some stakeholders will then have the job of escalating or managing concerns, which we will also cover.
GroupLink’s platforms, including GroupLink for SafestSchools, GroupLink Workflow Process & Incident Tracking and GroupLink everything HelpDesk help stakeholders increase student safety and operational efficiency, collaboration, and accountability, while greatly reducing liability and risk associated with safety issues. Connect with us online or call us at 801-335-0700. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.