School safety is a critical topic that will shape dialogue and policy in the 2018/2019 school year. What follows is a summary of news stories that superintendents across the State of New York should be monitoring as they strategically assess program goals and districtwide initiatives for the coming school year.
New York State Comptroller to Audit State and City Education Departments to Assess School Safety
On June 4, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli began a process of auditing the state Education Department and the New York City Department of Education to assess their school safety plan effectiveness. DiNapoli’s goal is to determine if the departments are taking adequate measures to ensure schools are maintaining effective safety plans to safeguard students, faculty, and staff in the event of a school shooting or other emergency event.
Wivb.com quoted DiNapoli as stating, “My auditors are going to examine if the laws and programs New York has in place to keep our children safe in schools are being followed. We need to do everything we can to prevent senseless tragedies.”
DiNapoli is using criteria established under New York State’s Safe Schools Against Violence in Education (SAVE) Act to assess the effectiveness of the State and New York City Education Departments’ safety plans. The SAVE Act was signed into law in July 2000 to promote a safer and more effective learning environment. The legislation requires the establishment of district-wide school safety plans; building-level emergency response plans; codes of conduct; uniform violent incident reporting; instruction in civility, citizenship, and character education; and school violence prevention training.
The Potential Impact on Your School District
Every district needs an effective plan in place to mitigate the chance of an act of violence occurring within its walls, as well as policies and procedures to follow if the unthinkable happens. Superintendents should review their school district safety plans at the start of every school year to ensure safety methods are still relevant and effective in protecting students, faculty, and staff. Also, superintendents should provide faculty, staff, and students in every school in the district with appropriate emergency response training so that in the event of a school shooter or other emergency event, staff and students know how what measures to take to protect themselves and seek safety.