Indiana Offered State School Security Model During SIA GovSummit

Tim Eckersley of Allegion discusses school safety at SIA GovSummit.

​Officials shared perspective on emergency preparedness measures adopted by the state of Indiana for school security in a panel discussion presented by the Security Industry Association (SIA) and the Congressional School Safety Caucus during the 2017 SIA GovSummit last month.

Introducing speakers at the Summit, Tim Eckersley, senior vice president and president of the Americas region, Allegion hailed his home state as a national leader for the steps it has undertaken in response to Indiana Senate Bill 147, signed into law by then-Gov. Mike Pence in 2016.

Eckersley represents Allegion as a stakeholder in the Partner Alliance for Safer Schools (PASS), an organization co-founded by SIA to prescribe school safety and security guidelines for America’s K-12 schools. Speaking at the panel on June 28, Eckersley called school safety and security “a personal passion” and thanked SIA and Allegion for providing him with a platform to address challenges facing U.S. schools.

“At Allegion, we have decided to put our money, our talent and our efforts where our mouths are, together with parents, educators, policymakers, emergency managers, first responders, and the security industry to help solve deficiencies in the security infrastructure and security technology and life-safety systems in America’s schools,” Eckersley said.

There are roughly 100,000 K-12 public schools across the United States, and the average school facility is about 44 years old, he reported. Regardless of school size or funding, PASS (www.passk12.org) provides guidelines schools can implement to protect their staff and students.

Indiana created a model for other states to follow, Eckersley added. In 2016, the Indiana legislature directed state homeland security department to establish and maintain guidelines for school emergency response systems. The Indiana Department of Homeland Security submitted those initial guidelines to the state legislature on July 1.

The law requires each school district in Indiana to employ a certified school safety specialist, meaning that the state was required to train and certify at least 300 such experts. Last year, Indiana trained and certified about 2,500 specialists as schools went above and beyond the requirement of the law to ensure a certified school safety specialist in each facility.

“In Indiana, the crucial element to a crisis response is a well-trained staff and student body,” explained David Woodward, director of school building physical security and safety, Indiana Department of Education, during the panel.

Indiana is the only state in the United States to require such training, which is provided to a designated educator at no cost. The specialists learn effective drills, protocols and applicable laws, among other things, during five days of training. Every year, specialists return for two additional days of advanced training to address ever-changing threats and best practices to mitigate those threats.

Ninety percent of participants rate the training as very helpful, Woodward said. “Educators are hungry for this training.”

The Indiana Department of Education also reviews school emergency preparedness plans. The department selects 60 school districts a year at random for review. The department is aware that training is key, Woodward said, so plans allow for flexibility to substitute fire drill training, required monthly, with lockdown training or severe weather training up to four times a year.

Indiana Senate Bill 147 also instituted a grants programs for state schools, whether public, private or charter schools. Each school can qualify for a grant up to $50,000 for schools with populations over 1,000 or up to $35,000 for schools with populations under $35,000. The grants total up to $10 million, disbursed over a two-year cycle.

Grant funding from the Secure School Safety Grant provides money for salaries of school resource officers, threat assessments, and equipment, such as access control measures, alarms and communications, said Robert Quinn, Domestic Security Planner, Indiana Department of Homeland Security.

State officials review grant proposals and approve those that make a good case, although officials reserve the right to prescribe specific improvements. For example, if a school requests funding for cameras, but lacks proper locks on doors, officials may direct the school to use grant funding for locks instead.

Schools face a requirement to match the state funds, which has presented a challenge for schools that do not have the money. The Indiana Department of Homeland Security is seeking relief for the match requirement, Quinn said. In addition, the majority of schools have spent their grant funds so far toward salaries for school resource officers. The department is exploring ways to increase capacity among local law enforcement to relieve the demand for school resource officers, thus empowering schools to propose spending more money on equipment and technology.

Indiana Senate Bill 147 tasked the Indiana Department of Homeland Security to develop emergency response system guidelines, which were delivered July 1.

The guidelines outlined recommendations for:

  • School emergency operations plans
  • Exterior doors (recommended to be locked during school hours at all times)
  • Classroom doors (locked doors during class periods)
  • Training and drills for students
  • Facility hallways (putting teachers in corridors during breaks to interact and remain watchful)
  • Common response procedures and common terminology
  • Communications plan with first responders
  • School resource officer and law enforcement presence

“We stress people over products,” Quinn said, emphasizing a theme to Indiana’s approach to school safety and security.

For more information on SIA GovSummit, visit www.securityindustry.org/​summit.

Federal Spending Bill Would Boost Education Aid, Reject Trump Choice Push

Lawmakers sent a message to President Donald Trump and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in their bill to fund the federal government: We’re not the biggest fans of your big education ideas.

Congress would increase spending at the U.S. Department of Education by $2.6 billion over previously enacted levels in fiscal year 2018, up to $70.9 billion, under a new omnibus spending bill that could finally resolve a months-long logjam on Capitol Hill.

In addition, funding for Title I, the biggest pot of federal money for public schools, which is earmarked for disadvantaged students, would increase by $300 million from fiscal 2017 enacted spending, up to $15.8 billion.

The fiscal 2018 spending bill, released late Wednesday, doesn’t contain several key changes sought by Trump in his first budget plan. In fact, Trump’s budget plan for fiscal 2018 would have cut discretionary education spending by $9.2 billion. So Congress’ bill is a significant rebuke of sorts to the president’s education vision.

In fact, the spending bill leaves out a $250 million private school choice initiative the president and DeVos sought, as well as a $1 billion program designed to encourage open enrollment in districts.

Title II, which provides professional development to educators, would be flat-funded at roughly $2.1 billion. The Trump budget pitch for fiscal 2018 eliminated Title II entirely—it was the single biggest cut to K-12 Trump sought for fiscal 2018. And Title IV, a block grant for districts that can fund a diverse set of needs from school safety to ed-tech, would receive $1.1 billion, a big increase from its current funding level of $400 million. Trump also sought to eliminate Title IV.

Funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers would rise up by $20 million up to $1.2 billion; that’s another program the Trump budget proposal axed. In addition, special education grants would go up by $299 million to $13.1 billion. And federal aid to charter schools would increase to $400 million, a $58 million boost.

The bill also bars funds from the bill being used for “a reorganization that decentralizes, reduces the staffing level, or alters the responsibilities, structure, authority, or functionality of the Budget Service of the Department of Education.” DeVos has been seeking such a change as part of her effort to restructure and streamline the department.

Lawmakers also rebuffed a move by DeVos to reduce the office for civil rights’ budget by $1 million—the bill increases funding from $109 million to $117 million.

The spending agreement includes a $2.37 billion increase to the Child Care Development Block Grant, totaling $5.226 billion. And it hikes up Head Start funding by $610 million, bringing it to $9.863 billion. Meanwhile, the Preschool Development Grants, which the Trump administration sought to eliminate, were level-funded at $250 million. The program, which was created through ESSA, is a big priority for Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state, the top Democrat on the Senate education committee.

The bill also seeks $120 million for the Education Innovation and Research program or EIR, which helps test out promising practices at the district level. In its most recent budget request, the Trump administration sought to boost that program to $200 million, and fund only projects that would help bolster science, technology, engineering, and math education. Instead, the bill would set-aside a chunk of EIR funding for STEM, $50 million. The rest could go to other kinds of projects.

Congress must first pass the bill and send it to Trump for his signature before these spending levels are set. The government will shut down when Friday turns to Saturday if new spending levels for fiscal 2018 aren’t finalized by then.

Technically, the deadline for lawmakers approving appropriations legislation for this fiscal year was the start of last October. But as you’ve probably heard, Capitol Hill’s dealmaking ability on spending has been weak recently. So federal spending has limped along through a series of resolutions that have largely carried over fiscal 2017 spending.

A sign of how far behind Congress is: House lawmakers just heard from U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos about the president’s fiscal 2019 budget blueprint on Tuesday.

Changes to School Safety

While the bill raises overall federal school safety funding, it also shifts funds from an existing, wide-ranging school safety grant program that focuses on school environments toward the new STOP School Violence Act, which allows that funding to be used for physical security measures, like metal detectors. (The STOP Act, introduced previously in the House and Senate, is included in the omnibus bill.)

The bill takes $75 million appropriated for the Comprehensive School Safety Initiative—an existing program in the Department of Justice that funds research and implementation of a wide range of evidence-based safety programs that range from bullying prevention to innovative approaches to school policing—and redirects that funding toward programs authorized under the STOP School Violence Act.

The Comprehensive School Safety Initiative, which was developed after the 2012 school shooting in Newtown, Conn., emphasized evaluation to determine best practices and build an evidence base for school safety programs. The STOP School Violence Act does not include a focus on research and evaluation of the program it funds.

The bill says funding provided through the STOP School Violence Act can be used to support evidence-based programs, violence prevention efforts, and anonymous reporting systems. But it can also be used to support physical security upgrades for schools, like “metal detectors, locks, lighting, and other deterrent measures.”

Some school safety researchers have largely favored efforts to build safe and supportive schools over physical security measures, which they’ve said can make some students feel less safe.

Reaction Comes In

The top Senate Democrat for education, Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state, praised the bipartisan agreement to dismiss the “extreme ideas to privatize our nation’s public schools and dismantle the Department of Education” from DeVos.

“I’m proud to have worked with Republicans in Congress to flatly reject these ideas, and increase funding for programs Secretary DeVos tried to cut, including K-12 education, civil rights protections, college affordability, and more,” Murray said in a statement.

And Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., praised the bill for including the STOP School Violence Act, as well as funding for other programs that can be use to help with school safety, such as Title IV:

 

Meanwhile, the Title IV-A Coalition, which backs more funding for the program, also celebrated the spending bill.

“This level of funding will allow school districts to have true flexibility in determining how to meaningfully invest in and support programs that support safe and healthy students, a well-rounded academic curriculum, and an effective educational technology program,” the group said in a statement.

Another school shooting: Are we numb to it?

LISA MARIE PANE, Associated Press –

ATLANTA (AP) – The shooting of more than a dozen students at a Kentucky high school might have been expected to shock the nation, but Americans seem numbed by the apparent frequency of school shootings since 20 children and six adults were killed at a Connecticut elementary school in 2012, gun-control advocates say.

President Donald Trump took more than 24 hours to express sorrow about the shooting on Twitter – but tweeted about text messages between FBI agents and immigration in the meantime – while Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, tweeted condolences and called Kentucky’s governor the same day. Although the story led many newscasts, much coverage of the shooting in Benton, Kentucky, emphasized how students put past safety training into practice, running as far as a mile (1.6 kilometers) to escape the gunfire.

A 15-year-old boy was in police custody after authorities say he walked into Marshall County High School armed with a pistol Tuesday morning and immediately started firing. Two 15-year-old classmates were killed and 18 others were injured.

Gun safety and school safety advocates say the shock factor has disappeared amid years of school shootings, making them feel like common, everyday events.

“It is a story that feels probably like the movie ‘Groundhog Day,'” said Shannon Watts, who founded Moms Demand Action after watching the shooting at a Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school that killed 20 children and six adults.

“It almost is like some kind of bar has been set (since Newtown), and if school shootings don’t reach that bar, then maybe they’re not newsworthy, which is in itself wrong,” Watts later added. “We have to care every time a gun goes off on school grounds, no matter what the reason is … because we are the only developed nation where this happens.”

In the five years since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, the United States has had 283 school shootings – 11 since just the beginning of this year – by gun control advocates’ count. The day before the shooting in Benton, a 16-year-old boy shot and injured a 15-year-old girl in the cafeteria at a high school in Italy, Texas – barely a blip on the national news.

Katherine Newman’s book “Rampage: The Social Roots of School Shootings,” zeroes in on two shootings, one of which occurred in Paducah, Kentucky, just 24 miles (40 kilometers) from Benton.

These types of school shootings – rampage shootings – remain uncommon, she said. However, because they are lumped in with all sorts of other shootings near or at schools, they feel like they’re happening more frequently. For example, among the 11 cases this year some count as a school shooting was a 31-year-old man who killed himself in the parking lot of a Michigan elementary school. In researching the 2004 book, Newman said they tracked school shootings from 1970 to 2000 and identified 20 that fit the rampage category.

By the strict definition, no school shootings have happened so far this year except the ones in Kentucky and Texas, plus a teen who killed himself in a school bathroom.

Newman said actual school shootings remain rare and occur most often in places just like Benton: small, rural and viewed as idyllic places to grow up. But those qualities sow the seeds for the kids who carry out these shootings, she said.

“These are tiny towns where people feel like it’s a wonderful place to raise your kids because everyone knows your name,” Newman said.

But in these towns, she said, future shooters grow up surrounded by classmates who seem to be enjoying life, excelling in sports or academics, and being raised in wonderful families. They struggle to fit in and, when they can’t, they conjure up shootings as a way to at least become notorious.

“They were trying to get people to think of them as an antihero because that was better than being thought of as a loser,” she said.

School shootings rarely happen spontaneously or without a few classmates having a whiff it might happen. The solution? Finding ways to ensure kids can tell an adult without feeling like snitches or reactionaries.

Robert Boyd, executive director of the Delaware-based Secure Schools Alliance, which works on making schools safer, said the vast majority of mass shootings at elementary schools are committed by an intruder, while those at middle and high schools are by students.

“The malaise, the tolerance that we as a society have built up about students doing violence on other students, we seem to have more collective outrage when it’s an intruder,” Boyd said. “But we’ve just come to accept that it’s normal for a student to walk in with a gun and start shooting.”

Press Release: Secure Schools Alliance Co-Sponsors Congressional School Safety Caucus Briefing

WILMINGTON, DE (June 15, 2017) – The Secure Schools Alliance Research and Education (the Alliance) organization and the Security Industry Association will co-sponsor the Congressional School Safety Caucus Briefing & Lunch: “Securing America’s K-12 Schools” on June 28, 2017, from 12-1 p.m., at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center, HVC-201. The event is free to attend, but registration is required.

Chaired by Reps. Susan Brooks (R-IN) and Rick Larsen (D-WA), the Congressional School Safety Caucus (CSSC) is dedicated to bringing lawmakers together with education, law enforcement, government and private sector leaders to discuss how to improve safety and security at our nation’s schools. Rep. Brooks will make remarks on efforts in Congress to improve school safety.

The CSSC is a valuable resource and advocate for the improvement of school safety. We are grateful for their support and the opportunity to present this briefing,” said Robert Boyd, executive director of the Alliance and moderator for the special event. “School safety is a non-partisan issue. We encourage all members of Congress to join the CSSC and help lead the effort to make America’s schools safe.”

The panelists for “Securing America’s K-12 Schools” include:

Michele Gay, Executive Director of Safe and Sound Schools. Gay shares the inspiring way she has chosen to help school communities improve school safety in honor of her daughter, Josephine, and memory of the other 19 children and six teachers lost on Dec. 14, 2012, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut.

Guy Grace, Director of Public Safety for the Littleton, Colorado, School District. On April 12, 1999, the world was shocked by the mass murder of 12 students and a teacher at Columbine High School. Learn what changes to school security and safety that community made in response to that tragedy.

Robert Quinn of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security and David Woodward of the Indiana Department of Education. Indiana state officials will present the proactive steps that Indiana is taking to improve school security and safety as well as how it could serve as a model for other states. In 2016, the Indiana General Assembly passed legislation directing the establishment and maintenance of guidelines for school emergency response systems in conjunction with experts from the division of school building physical security and safety.

“This event will tie the need for improving the security of America’s K-12 public schools to real-life stories and expert perspectives. We also want to highlight what one state, Indiana, is doing to improve the safety of its schools,” added Boyd. “Indiana is a leader in the fight to improve school safety.”

The Alliance recently released a first-of-its-kind tool: An interactive map of state security policies and resources for K-12 public schools. The Alliance partnered with the Police Foundation and Dr. Erroll Southers of TAL Global to develop the online tool, which is intended to offer decision makers a place to easily review school safety and security best practices.

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Michigan Legislature OKs Using Tax for School Security

(AP) The Michigan Legislature has voted to let schools use special local taxes to upgrades their security and technology. The bill sent to Gov. Rick Snyder affects ‘sinking fund’ millages — local property taxes that fund major repairs and renovations to school buildings. (Read more . . .)

State News

OHIO

Despite concern voiced in opposition by security and safety experts and the many code officials at Ohio hearings, including the former superintendent from Chardon – Joe Bergant, the Ohio legislature has passed a bill to override current fire code requirements and allow barricade devices with limitations.  These devices do not comply with the current Ohio codes, the guidelines from the National Association of State Fire Marshals, or the recent report from the Ohio Board of Building Standards.

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