Many New York City public schools lack up-to-date safety plans, working radios and correct personnel records, a report by the New York State Comptroller’s office finds. Several errors were found in many of the plans that the schools submitted to the state, New York Post reports.
The comptroller’s report analyzed the response plans of 25 sample schools to see how well they complied with the 20-year old Safe Schools Against Violence in Education Act, which requires schools to submit safety plans by Sept. 1 of each school year.
Many of the plans were late and full of errors, had outdated floor plans and outdated contact people. One-fifth of the schools did not hold the minimum number of lock-down drills, the article says.
With all of the recommendations for how to improve school safety over the past year and a half, one takeaway is that consistent implementation is necessary to see the benefits of prevention efforts. At a session during last year's National Association of Elementary School Principals conference, Jeff Bean, a police officer from suburban Chicago who also runs Act on Bullying Inc., advised school leaders that keeping schools safe is a daily responsibility. And it's clear that some actions schools have taken are beginning to show a positive impact. For example, behaviors such as bullying seem to have decreased. During the 1999-00 school year, 29% of public schools reported bullying once a week, but only 12% reported bullying in 2015-16.
At the federal government level, the Federal Commission on School Safety, formed following the February, 2018 mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, issued a report late last year urging schools to arm school personnel and expand mental health services. However, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to the problem and that all states should make plans based on what is the best fit for their own areas.
More school resource officers (SROs) are now on duty, but those trained in social emotional learning tend to have more positive impacts on schools. Rather than just handling discipline, SROs can help inspire students to make the right choices in the first place. That's the goal in the Charleston County School District in South Carolina, where officials are planning to expand an SRO program from the middle and high school level to the elementary schools.