Start your school safety planning well before opening day

From Jon Akers, Executive Director, Kentucky Center for School Safety

As you begin the 2011-2012 school year, I want to make several friendly reminders and provide you with appropriate documents in order to put several safety-related matters on your radar screen early in the school year. Please share this information with your principals.

1. Please remind all school principals to review and update their School-Based Emergency Response and/or Management Plans. The same should also be done with your school district plan. We also strongly recommend that all principals review this information with their classified and certified staff members before students arrive for the first day of school.

2. In addition to conducting fire, severe weather and earthquake drills, pursuant to KRS 158.164, there is to be a “Lockdown Procedure Practice held at least once during each school year” at each school. After gathering data on when most lockdown drills were conducted during the first couple of years of the law’s implementation (2006-2007), we learned that many of the initial drills were conducted during the second semester. A best practice in school safety would be to conduct at least the first lockdown drill during the first 30 days of school, much like the first fire drill is held. Please urge your schools’ principals to follow this best practice.

3. Again last year, we received reports of parents/guardians exhibiting uncivil, unruly behavior toward school employees. (We don’t want to ever forget what happened at the Panama City Board of Education meeting.) Most school districts have policies written to address this very issue, i.e., how parents are expected to behave on a school campus. I strongly recommend that if your school district has a policy such as this that you make it available to your parents at the beginning of the school year. Working together to convey that professional courtesy is expected of all parties at a school is definitely in the best interest of all of our children.

4. “Back to School Safety Checklist”. This list is linked to websites that will help provide immediate information for the principals. Click here Checklist and scroll down.

5. “Talk to Your Kids About…” this attached handout is something that parents and teachers should have. It gives suggestions on talking with kids about: suicide, bullying, cyber-bullying, drug/alcohol abuse and Internet safety. My guess is most Parent/Teacher organizations will be interested in sending this information to the parents/guardians. Please consider having principals forward this document on to them as well. This is yet another way the school district can be seen as being proactive in addressing these issues.

Please don’t forget the 17th Annual Safe Schools Conference November 7-8 sponsored by KSBA and KCSS.

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