A Word of Warning: Federal and State Resources Aim to Ease School Safety Planning
From federal guidance addressing FERPA and the School Safety Commission Report and DOE withdrawal of discipline guidance to Illinois law requiring threat assessment teams and the creation of the Illinois Educational Safety and Security Center (ESSC), the educational legal world has been abuzz with efforts to increase school safety. Many school leaders are understandably seeking resources to help with school safety planning. Recent resources published by both the Federal government and the State of Illinois address school safety issues and aim to alleviate the burden on schools as they work to increase safety and reduce threats.
The White House recently unveiled a joint U.S. Department of Education, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and Department of Justice website—www.schoolsafety.gov. The White House reportedly received help with developing the website from parents who lost children during the Parkland shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The Department of Education describes the website as a “one-stop-shop of resources for K-12 administrators, educators, parents, and law enforcement to use to prepare for and address various threats related to safety, security, and support in schools.” The impetus for the website was the Federal Commission on School Safety recommendation in its report that the federal government create a clearinghouse to provide school safety strategies and serve as a central location for federal resources.
The website includes:
- A School Safety Readiness Tool assessment through which schools can receive a personalized action plan with steps to increase school safety
- A checklist of low to no cost steps that can be taken to increase physical security
- A Secure Information Sharing Platform for designated school personnel to share school safety ideas, practices, plans, and tactics in a protected environment; applicants to join the network are vetted to ensure they are actively involved in school safety planning
- Resources and best practices on key school safety topics, including information on prevention, protection/mitigation, and response/recovery.
The Illinois School and Campus Safety Resource Center—www.ilschoolsafety.org—also provides school safety resources for K-12 and higher education institutions, including sources for training and guidance on various issues related to the safety of students and the school community.
Although we do not recommend any single resource, we encourage clients to avail themselves of as many available resources as possible when reviewing and updating school safety and threat assessment plans and procedures. For more information about these and other available resources, contact the authors of this post or any other Franczek attorney.