- The U.S. Department of Education this week launched SchoolSafety.gov, a website intended to serve as a one-stop clearinghouse of resources for K-12 administrators, educators, parents and law enforcement officials to address safety and security in schools, according to the a press release.
Among the available resources are a readiness tool that assists education stakeholders in evaluating their respective school’s safety position based on 10 elements, along with a secure information-sharing platform for school personnel to share safety ideas, best practices and tactics. It also features best practices on safety that include ways to build awareness within the community.
- The commission was established as an executive order by President Donald Trump after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida.
The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School elevated the conversation about school shootings and gun violence in the country. After the shooting, the Trump administration held school safety summits seeking solutions to the persistent and growing issue. The clearinghouse design was inspired in part by Max Schacter, whose 17-year-old son Alex was one of 17 who died in the Parkland shooting. Schacter, also president of Safe Schools for Alex, felt there was no reason for each district to reinvent the wheel.
At the time, many experts recommended adding more proactive prevention that includes mental health and social-emotional support. The SchoolSafety.gov website includes information on how to prevent bullying and cyberbullying, and improve mental health and school climate. It also includes hard-shell protections like physical security information, school security personnel and threat assessment information.
The Secret Service agrees prevention is the key, considering most of the 41 incidents it examined could have been prevented, according to the agency's Protecting America’s Schools report. The report found no typical school attacker profile, but determined there are usually several motives that often include a grievance with at least one student, and that the shooters usually obtain their firearms at home.
Despite the commission’s recommendations, most states and individual already have their own safety measures in place including resource officers, security cameras and data-sharing agreements with state agencies. Though the commission’s recommendations and website provide ideas and resources, each school will need to determine its own vulnerabilities and best practices, said Frank Quiambao, founder and director of the National Education Safety and Security Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles.