States’ Roles in Keeping Schools Safe

States’ Roles in Keeping Schools Safe: Opportunities and Challenges for State School Safety Centers and Other Actors
A July 2017 Report from the National Institute of Justice

In almost every state, a state agency or organization is charged with playing a little known but important role in keeping schools safe. In some states, there are organizations whose entire responsibility is related to school safety. These are typically referred to as state school safety centers (SSSC). In other states, staff within state agencies (including departments of education, public safety, state police, and others) are responsible for state school safety efforts. Their work reflects the highest safety priorities faced by schools across the nation and parallels some of the weightiest issues facing the criminal justice system today, including the relationship between law enforcement and the community, concerns about firearms violence, procedural justice, and appropriate responses to misbehavior that may be related to trauma or behavioral health. These organizations have the potential to transform how we approach our responsibilities to keep schools and students safe.

In February 2016, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) assembled representatives from 20 states for a meeting on state school safety issues in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The purpose of the meeting was to better understand the role of state school safety representatives and learn about their priorities and the challenges they face in doing this work. NIJ is using this information to help shape the activities of the Comprehensive School Safety Initiative (CSSI) — a research-focused initiative with the goal of producing practical knowledge on a wide range of school safety topics in K-12 public and charter schools.

Read the full report.