Your School Safety Questions Answered by Gary

by | Nov 18, 2022 | Ask Gary, Gary's Blog, Q&A with Gary

Looking for answers to your school safety-related questions?  One week after being hired as a K12 safety director, I discovered I had more questions than answers.  Fortunately, I was able to develop a network of people I could call or email for suggestions, advice, or just bounce ideas off.  If you ever have any questions when it comes to topics like safety, training, exercises, or Emergency Operation Plans (EOP), you can contact me directly or through my website. I may not have all the answers, but with my network of subject matter experts, I can point you in the right direction and work with you to find the answers you need.

Below is the latest list of questions that I have answered from webinars, conferences, and directly via email.

Do you have a question but do not know where to get an answer? Scroll down and privately submit your question directly to me. This is a free service provided by Safeguard Risk Solutions.

Is there any training you would recommend to learn more about identifying safety concerns?

Be sure to subscribe to Campus Safety Magazine. I constantly use the search feature on their website when doing research.  The REMS TA Center offers free training. I am a huge fan of the Texas State University School Safety Center.  If there is not a network for you to join in your area, start your own.  I learned the most from colleagues I met with on a regular basis or I could call if I needed to bounce an idea off someone.  I miss face to face training, but the pandemic has shown us we can still get great information during webinars and virtual conferences.  The one thing that can never be replaced from a face-to-face conference is learning from the person sitting beside you who is in the same position as you and who faces the same issues.

Are you aware of any student rights support for minors when parents are unengaged / uninvolved or is that student left to the administration / staff to decide the outcome?

In Ohio, we have specific rules on interviewing suspects, including minors. Schools should not allow for an interview with a student and Law Enforcement for a delinquent act committed outside of the school unless a parent is present. If the parent is not able to be present, a representative from the school should be with the student during the interview.

Is there anything that you would keep as zero-tolerance, or do you prefer to eliminate that stigma completely?

When I think of examples where there should be zero-tolerance, I think of actions like bringing a weapon to school to cause harm and assaults. But even in those cases the focus should be on helping the child.  Those who work on a TAT know we sometimes must remove a child from school because of safety concerns.  But the goal, if possible, is to re-engage the child in a school setting.  This is where our counselors and social workers play a vital role.

Do you have any recommendations on Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) training or resources with limited budgets?

See if there are any colleagues that work for a neighboring school or college who has the expertise. You can always check with your county or state EMA, but I always had to pay for my own training.  I hated having to spend the money, but it was worth the time and the money.

I am a former Police Officer and saw the need for SROs not long after the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) Programs ended; there was no plan as to how to extend or bridge the two roles.  Does the D.A.R.E. Program still have a role or need in our schools today?  Maybe time for a comeback?

In my early teaching days, we had D.A.R.E. in our eighth-grade health classes. I was never fan of the D.A.R.E curriculum and there has yet to be a study showing the effectiveness of D.A.R.E. However, the real benefit of D.A.R.E. was that the officers were able to start building relationships with students at an early age.  I have seen agencies that had to cut D.A.R.E. due to budget restrictions and manpower shortages use patrol officers assigned to a school who make regular visits to the school to build relationships.

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