Tips for Choosing the Right School Technology for Online and Hybrid Learning

September 23, 2021|Drew Deatherage

While online learning opportunities are now better understood, this new phase of education had a rocky start. Because of the abrupt transition from in-person to online education demanded by COVID-19, schools faced a steep learning curve as they developed online and hybrid learning experiences. Although not ready for the change, schools were forced to adapt or risk losing all connection with students. Many districts stepped up to the plate, and practically overnight, figured out a makeshift plan. 

This new approach to learning also presented rigorous challenges to students, parents, and educators. And yet, studies show that even post-pandemic, online learning will retain a strong foothold in the education ecosystem. According to experts in economics and education, a confluence of forces will likely fuel continued demand for online teaching. While most schools already have at least temporary means for providing online education in place, it’s imperative to reevaluate those solutions and develop an ongoing school technology and infrastructure strategy to continue supporting online and hybrid learning. 

In this article, we will explore the challenges and benefits presented by supporting online and hybrid learning, and the technology that can help students, teachers, and schools be successful. 

The Challenges of Online Learning

As every school district has realized, online learning is not without its challenges. Here are some of the top struggles that districts have faced.

1. Keeping students engaged. The shift to online learning happened quickly. Teachers, many of whom had never taught online, had to adapt lesson plans for digital instruction. Students needed to adjust to a new method of learning, and for many, it was harder to pay attention to a screen than in-person instruction.

2. Figuring out technology requirements. With the quick shift to digital, many districts hadn’t mapped out their technology needs, such as network requirements, which hindered their ability to create a plan and select and implement a technical solution.  

3. Securing sensitive information. Security is always a top concern for school districts and many were left unsure of how to secure sensitive information and protect portals to their networks. 

A Blended Approach to Learning: The Hybrid Model

Perhaps the biggest challenge of online learning stems from the misconception that technology, alone, can transform education. Adopting a blend of online and in-person instruction helps schools seize the opportunities that online learning has to offer, such as asynchronous learning, self-paced lessons, additional one-on-one instruction, better testing and accountability, and more. 

San Antonio Superintendent Pedro Martinez says, “I think the right mix is the reverse of what we have now. My ideal is when we can have 70 percent of students in-person and 30 percent remote.”

Enter the hybrid learning model. 

And San Antonio isn’t alone. Ten percent of district leaders surveyed by the RAND Corporation last fall said they had adopted or were considering a hybrid instructional model. Another 19 percent said they were at least considering offering ongoing online instruction.

Online learning is here to stay. While there are some undeniable challenges to online learning, potential benefits are equally impossible to ignore. 

The Top Three Benefits of Online Learning

Online learning provides many opportunities for both individual students and entire districts. Here are some of the top benefits of online and hybrid learning. 

1. Flexible learning and preparation for future employment. Some students have selected online learning as their education format of choice. With digital instruction, students can pursue asynchronous learning, which is when students can learn at their own pace and on their own schedules. It works well for self-motivated learners who do not need guidance to complete their assignments. 

Online learning serves students beyond the classroom, too, because it prepares them for remote employment opportunities (a growing trend even before COVID-19). By mastering digital literacy skills required for online learning, such as video conferencing technologies, PowerPoint, and Excel, future professionals stand out in a competitive job market. 

2. Bridging the distance between districts. The current education ecosystem is divided into two types of districts: focus districts and non-focus districts. Focus districts are defined by the RAND Corporation as agencies wherein the student population is 50 percent Black or Hispanic/Latino, or wherein at least 50 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. Focus districts often don’t have the same resources as non-focus districts, such as AP classes or a wide range of language class offerings, which puts their students at a disadvantage when it comes to learning opportunities. 

Technology, along with online instruction, can level the learning field. For example, schools can share resources with one another, connect with students across districts, and conduct those lessons remotely. By using remote education to bridge the distance between districts, students now have the opportunity to explore subjects otherwise unavailable to them. 

3. Opening the classroom to all students, regardless of ability. Online, students can learn from the comfort and safety of their own homes. With online and hybrid instruction, students who are comfortable with a subject won’t be forced to slow down for the students who are struggling. With asynchronous learning, teachers can pay closer attention to each student’s performance and better support the students who need more help with one-on-one, individualized instruction. 

Making the transition to online learning is important, but finding the right technology is key to enabling teachers to teach and learners to learn. 

Five Questions to Help You Find the Best School Technology for Your District’s Needs

As we’ve noted, there are two major philosophical approaches to virtual learning: the hybrid model, which involves both live and online classes, and self-paced computer-based learning, done totally online, with a teacher proctoring and tracking progress. Regardless of which philosophical approach your school takes, successfully moving to an online learning model requires the right school technology to support the transition. Because online learning is different from traditional face-to-face learning, it requires different strategies to keep students actively engaged. Although engagement is a monumental challenge, the right school technology solution can help. 

When considering an online learning model, here are questions a district needs to ask in order to select the best school technology solution: 

1. How many classes are going to use an online learning model? This is critical for selecting a scalable solution. 

2. What subjects will be offered online? Teachers can require very different solutions to support teaching styles and subjects. Evaluate if the instruction is going to be conducted while sitting or moving because this can create audio and video complexities. For example, a math class is going to be more stationary while a science class may incorporate an experiment and require movement and multiple cameras to provide important views. Choose a technology that enables, rather than hinders, learning. 

3. What grade levels will be using this technology? Each age group may require a different approach to achieve active engagement. For example, what engages a third-grader will be quite different from what engages a tenth grader. 

4. Will this technology support users? This is a nuanced question. From students to teachers, it’s important to make sure that everyone using the technology is comfortable with it. Including staff training will better set your school up for success. Make sure to also consider students’ learning speeds and environments, as well as the various levels of parental engagement to support students.

5. How do we pay for this? Figuring out funding can seem overwhelming, but don’t forget that many resources are available, such as funding options offered by select vendors and TPA COVID-19 relief money. As an example, at the end of 2020, Texas voters approved a $90-million bond to pay for new technology—including cameras and microphones—that will be used to broadcast teachers working from their classrooms into the homes of thousands of students. 

While determining the right school technology solution requires the consideration of many variables, the best solution should be scalable, engaging, and accessible. If you need help selecting your school technology solution, figuring out your network requirements, or want to ensure that you’re keeping your information secure, talk to a professional. 

That’s where Crux comes in. 

CTA: Crux can help

Building a virtual learning environment that actively engages students, helps level the educational playing field, and protects information is a daunting challenge. But you don’t have to do it alone. Crux is here to help you understand your options and help you create a safe, connected environment. Our team is equipped to assist with connectivity, LTE network, budget, and more. 

Connect with Crux, and together, we can create a roadmap for your district’s success! 

Categories: Consulting, K-12, school safety

Changes to Texas School Safety Requirements from the 86th Texas Legislative Session – Part 5 – Threat Assessment Teams

August 28, 2019|Drew Deatherage

In our previous post, we explored aspects of changes from the 86th Texas Legislative session related to socio-emotional health.  We discussed most of those in the last post.  Now let’s look at one additional aspect of it.

Senate Bill 11 (SB 11), the flagship bill, expands the use of threat assessment teams and requires the implementation of a safe and supportive schools program.  Both threat assessment teams and a safe and supportive schools program span across the emergency preparedness and mental health areas of school safety.  In fact, SB 11 addresses them in the same section of the bill that talks about emergency drills and terroristic threat notifications.  We include them in our review of mental health-related changes because of how they support mental health interventions and action plans.

The bill’s implementing language is quite specific.  It creates a new sub-section 37.115 to the Texas Education Code (TEC) that spells out various duties.  It charges –

  • The Texas Education Agency (TEA) to work with the Texas School Safety Center (TxSSC) to create rules for implementing a safe and supportive schools program.
  • The local board of trustees to create policies and procedures for implementing threat assessment and safe and supportive schools teams at each campus.
  • The superintendent to create the teams with the specified mix of skill sets and to provide for their oversight.
  • The teams with carrying out a range of duties related to threat assessment, student and employee guidance, and implementing the district’s all-hazards emergency operations plan.
  • The teams with reporting various data to the TEA

The TEA will need to clarify various aspects of this new section.  As is typical with new legislation, it leaves much to interpretation.

Threat assessment teams in education originated from research published in 2002 by the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Department of Education.  Many school districts have already embraced some form of them.  The new law will likely standardize how they are implemented.  The TxSSC has launched a series of training sessions to be conducted across the State of Texas over the next several months.

Some school districts are already using techniques from the safe and supportive schools program.  Note that this is not the same thing as Safe and Sound Schools.  The former is a body of knowledge and techniques that is organized and offered by the U.S. Department of Education.  The latter is a private non-profit organization that grew out of the Sandy Hook tragedy.  Both are excellent resources.

Categories: Consulting, K-12, school safety

Changes to Texas School Safety Requirements from the 86th Texas Legislative Session – Part 4 – Socio-Emotional Health

August 6, 2019|Drew Deatherage

In our previous post we explored aspects of changes from the 86th Texas Legislative session related to emergency preparedness.  Now let’s look at changes related to socio-emotional health.

Let’s explore changes to the Texas Education Code (TEC) from the 86th  Texas Legislative session that relate to mental health and socio-emotional wellness.  The primary bill is Senate Bill 11 (SB 11), formally titled:

AN ACT relating to policies, procedures, and measures for school safety and mental health promotion in public schools and the creation of the Texas Child Mental Health Care Consortium.

There are, as the title suggests, many changes to TEC Chapter 38 (Health and Safety) and the Texas Health and Safety Code.  School staff should read through these parts of SB 11 carefully.  There is a lot to it.  One way of getting a handle on it is to group the changes thematically –

  • Increased awareness and education for parents, teachers, and students
  • How we teach students
  • Mental health resources and support for school districts
  • Threat assessment teams, and safe and secure schools program

The new laws attempt to raise awareness of mental health issues in several ways.  For parents and families, the local school health advisory council is charged with recommending strategies for parental awareness.  School districts are encouraged to create educational materials for parents that discuss risk factors, treatment options, and resources related to mental health, substance abuse, and suicide.

For teachers, recurring training about how grief and trauma impact learning is now required, where it previously was optional.  For students, there are new curriculum requirements in SB 11.  The enrichment curriculum expands the definition of health into the now separate components of physical health, mental health, and suicide prevention, and provides guidance for the latter two.  The State Board of Education is charged with adding digital citizenship to State curriculum, covering both cyberbullying and healthy online behaviors.

In terms of how we teach, the new laws emphasize trauma-informed care.  Provisions for it must now be included in the district improvement plan.  As mentioned previously, training for teachers on the effect of trauma on learning and in the use of trauma-informed strategies in teaching is now required.  The biggest change from SB 11 is the creation of an entirely new Education Code Section 38.036, titled Trauma-Informed Care Policy.   The intention is to integrate trauma-informed practices throughout a school district.  It addresses policy, methods, training, and accountability.  Interestingly, it specifically allows a school district to partner with community mental health organizations when it lacks resources of its own.

To support districts with improving mental health outcomes, SB 11 adds a new sub-chapter F, Mental Health Resources, to Chapter 38.  It directs the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and the regional service centers, in conjunction with several other State agencies, to identify mental health resources and community-based programs available to school districts.  The Communities in Schools programs are specifically named as part of this.  The initial rubric called for in sub-chapter F is to be issued by the TEA to the service centers by December 1, 2019.  The Legislature seems to want a sense of urgency around this.  On a more strategic level, the new law calls for the creation of a Texas Child Mental Health Consortium.   Its purpose is stated as:  “leverage the expertise and capacity of the health-related institutions of higher education… to address urgent mental health challenges and improve the mental health care system in this state in relation to children and adolescents.”

The final major theme addressed by the new legislation is the use of threat assessment teams and safe and secure schools programs.   We will cover those changes in our next post.

The Legislature passed several new laws that impact school safety and impose new responsibilities upon public school districts, charter schools, the Texas Education Agency, and the Texas School Safety Center. We have created a free guide that summarizes the bills and how they may impact you. Click here for a free download.


Download our Free Guide on the Legislative Changes Here.

Categories: blog, K-12, school safety

Changes to Texas School Safety Requirements from the 86th Texas Legislative Session – Part 3

August 1, 2019|Drew Deatherage

In our previous post we explored aspects of changes from the 86th Texas Legislative session related to facility hardening and hostile events.  Now let’s look at changes related to emergency preparedness.

Senate Bill 11 (SB 11) Section 10 is the cornerstone of the preparedness changes. Please read this bill in its entirety to understand it fully.  As it goes with changes to law, much of it begs further clarification as to what it means exactly.  The Texas Education Agency (TEA) and the Texas School Safety Center (TxSSC) will need time to set rules and issue guidance.

Leaders of open enrollment charter schools take note.  Not only are there major changes to the rules, most of them now apply to you.

Previously, the education code required each district to have a multihazard emergency operations plan (EOP), but there was little oversight.  Now, plans must be submitted regularly to the TxSSC for review (Section 15), the deadlines for submission are to be determined.  There are now also consequences for non-compliance (Section 11), including requiring the Board of Trustees to hold a public hearing about it.  The Legislature seems to have opted for calling the district out publicly for the first level of enforcement.

EOP requirements are strengthened and expanded in several ways.  Essentially all the changes are additive to the existing requirements.  The Legislature took little away.  Here are some key points, with quotation marks representing exact wording in the bill.

  • More focus on ensuring substitute teachers are trained appropriately to act as regular staff in both drill and live situations.  Their readiness is a weak aspect of many districts’ training programs and daily operations.
  • Ensuring classrooms have technology to allow for “immediate contact” with emergency services.  Clarification is needed on questions like whether 911 calls can be made or disallowed from classrooms, or what emergency services means.
  • “Measures to ensure district communications technology and infrastructure are adequate to allow for communication during an emergency”.
  • Designation of a chain of command and alternate contacts for emergency response.
  • Preparations for addressing psychological safety of students, staff and the community both during and after an event.  There is quite a bit of language about this topic.
  • Accommodations for people with disabilities to have “equal access to safety”.
  • “…immediate notification to parents… in circumstances involving a significant threat to the health or safety of students…”.  We will need a lot of agency help to figure this out.

The three year cycle for facility safety and security audits remains intact.  The audit report must now be signed by both the board president and the superintendent.   There always was a requirement to submit audit reports to TxSSC but now there are more meaningful consequences if you don’t.  Like with EOPs, there are now consequences for not addressing the audit findings.   Again, the Legislature appears to be driving accountability for taking this seriously.

There are significant changes to both the membership and duties of a district safety committee.  The new membership is essentially what was suggested in Governor Abbott’s May 2018 plan and adds city/county emergency management, law enforcement, district trustees (board president plus one), teachers and parents.  The committee must meet at least three times per year and conform to the open meetings act.  Its duties are expanded to include making recommendations for updating the EOP.  Bottom line, the safety committee is intended to be broader in makeup, much more active and influential than in the past.

Finally, House Bill 496 establishes requirements for having traumatic injury (stop the bleed) kits and training.  This major gap in our preparedness is finally being addressed.

We will cover new mental health related requirements in our next posts.

The Legislature passed several new laws that impact school safety and impose new responsibilities upon public school districts, charter schools, the Texas Education Agency, and the Texas School Safety Center. We have created a free guide that summarizes the bills and how they may impact you.

Changes to Texas School Safety Requirements from the 86th Texas Legislative Session – Part 2

July 25, 2019|Drew Deatherage

The 86th Texas Legislative session, which concluded in May 2019 produced a number of school safety-related bills which were signed into law by Governor Abbott.  Senate Bill 11 (SB 11) is the cornerstone bill for school safety.  There are nearly a dozen others that also either directly or indirectly address some aspect of it.  Let’s explore some of the aspects of the collective bills related to facility hardening and protection from hostile events. 

New Standards

SB 11 charges the Texas Education Agency (TEA) with creating standards for school facility safety.  Section 1 of the bill says:

The commissioner shall adopt or amend rules as necessary to ensure that building standards for instructional facilities and other school district and open-enrollment charter school facilities provide a secure and safe environment.

This charge applies to both new construction and to renovations.  The rules are to be reviewed and amended as necessary every other year.  It will no doubt take the TEA some time to issue the first set of standards.  Many of the architectural firms which do school work in Texas have mobilized to provide input to the rule making process. 

Portable Buildings

SB 11 Section 26 requires the Texas School Safety Center (TSSC) to create and publish guidelines for securing portable buildings.  This is good news.  Portables are among the biggest security challenges. 

Safety and Emergency Vehicles

SB 11 Section 21 permits bond funds to be used to retrofit buses with security equipment and for purchasing or retrofitting other vehicles to be used for safety and emergency purposes.

Funding Allotment

To help make things happen, SB 11 Section 20, provides for a school safety funding allotment, with funds allocated proportionally to districts based on average daily attendance.  Some districts have reported to us that the actual amounts they expect to receive in the 2019-2020 budget year are very small.  The funds may be used for a range of purposes related to facility improvement, safety technology, safety officers, and training.  SB 11 Section 25 also calls for the TEA to set up a grant program to “improve and maintain student and school safety.”  We have no information yet on what that means.

Carrying Firearms

The subject of people carrying firearms in schools always draws much attention from those on all sides of the issue.  The most significant changes being advocated when the legislative session began did not make it out of committee, but some new things are in effect. 

  • Districts with fewer than 30,000 students used to have less stringent requirements for training of school resource officers (SRO).  That has been dropped by SB 11.  Smaller districts must now conform to the same SRO requirements as larger districts. 
  • SB 372 permits open-enrollment charter schools to employ or contract for peace officers or SROs in the same way as school districts, and SB 1707 does the same for the Texas School for the Deaf. 
  • Changes to the school marshal program turned out to be minimal.  HB 1387 removes the restriction on how many marshals a school district may have but makes no changes to the way firearms may be carried or stored or other aspects of the program.  Many districts across the State, especially rural districts, have instead implemented or are discussing enacting a guardian program (Texas Govt. Code 411.1901). 

The legislative changes have much more to say about emergency preparedness and mental health.  We will cover those in upcoming posts

Download our Free Guide on the Legislative Changes Here.

Changes to Texas School Safety Requirements from the 86th Texas Legislative Session – Part 1

July 12, 2019|Drew Deatherage

Over the next few blog posts, we will explore various aspects of what came out of the 86th Legislature related to school safety requirements in Texas public and charter schools.

The 86th Texas Legislative session concluded on May 27, 2019. True to their promises, the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Speaker of the House gave priority to school safety. Governor Greg Abbott released his School and Firearm Safety Action Plan in May 2018, following the tragedy at Santa Fe High School earlier that month. Both the Texas House and Senate then held a series of hearings covering a wide range of school safety topics.

In August 2018, the Governor issued an update report titled School Safety Action Plan Summary, which gave examples of actions taken to date by the State and by school districts across the State to improve safety. Those reports and hearings provided a starting point for the legislative session and appears to have guided the final outcomes.

The flagship legislative action addressing school safety is Senate Bill 11 (SB 11), formally titled:

AN ACT relating to policies, procedures, and measures for school safety and mental health promotion in public schools and the creation of the Texas Child Mental Health Care Consortium.

It is a wide-ranging bill, affecting numerous parts of the Texas Education Code, primarily Chapter 37 (Discipline; Law and Order) and Chapter 38 (Health and Safety). It also updates the Texas Health and Safety Code by creating a new Texas Child Mental Healthcare Consortium. Numerous other bills affecting school safety were also signed into law, though none are as impactful as SB 11. Many of them coordinate changes in other parts of the existing laws to align with SB 11.

Many discussions around school safety focus mostly on physical safety, especially protection from active shooter and other acts of extreme violence. The Legislature enacted many changes to the Texas Education Code which strengthen operational preparedness and improve physical facilities. We certainly can and should do more in that area, but any holistic approach to improving safety must address how to stop violence from happening in the first place. To that end, SB 11 takes major steps forward to elevate focus on mental health and socio-emotional wellness in schools.

The bills enacted in the legislative session impose many new duties on various State agencies, especially the Texas Education Agency and the Texas School Safety Center. As always, it will take them some time to work through everything. School leaders must be mindful that some provisions of the new legislation are effective immediately and some go into effect with the 2019-2020 school year. It is also imperative for leaders of open-enrollment charter schools to know that they are now subject to many of the same requirements as public school districts.

School leaders face even more challenging decisions than before as they consider their options for risk reduction and safety improvement. Before SB 11, focus was primarily on hardening facilities, with action plans driven by how best to do that.

Now, leaders must think about whether their limited resources would be better spent on improving mental health intervention. Do they expand the SRO program or the school counseling program? People are the most expensive part any school operational budget. Do they spend money on one-time costs like facilities improvements or technology or commit to the ongoing costs of staff additions or training? How much time do they allocate to safety preparedness and response training if it takes away from so many other training needs for teachers?

The Legislature passed several new laws that impact school safety and impose new responsibilities upon public school districts, charter schools, the Texas Education Agency, and the Texas School Safety Center. We have created a free guide that summaries the bills and how they may impact you.

Click here to download our Free Guide to these Legislative Changes.


Categories: blog, K-12, school safety

The Informal Role of the School Resource Officer

March 26, 2019|Drew Deatherage

School Resource Officer Role is Evolving

The role of the SRO has been evolving for some time. NASRO found that SROs do not contribute to a school-to-prison pipeline. On the contrary, they do not arrest students for disciplinary actions that would normally be handled by the staff if the SRO were not there. Their focus is to help troubled students avoid the juvenile justice system altogether. It was determined that when SRO prevalence rose, the rate of juvenile arrests declined.

Read more at our School Resource Officer White Paper Page.

NASRO has an approach called the triad concept. This concept divides the SRO’s responsibilities into three areas: Informal Counselor, Law Enforcement, and Educator. In May of 2018, Texas Governor Greg Abbott commissioned a panel discussion over three days that uncovered a gap in the effectiveness of school counselors.

The panel concluded that licensed counselors are spending most of their time on academic counseling, leaving them little to no time to attend to mental health counseling.

NASRO’s approach is in line with Governor Abbott’s recent action plan, which recommends prioritizing the importance of the mental and behavioral health of students. One way of doing that is freeing up the licensed counselors to focus on those needs. The SRO, while not a licensed mental health counselor, could certainly help fill the gap as the Informal Counselor.

Creative Ideas as the Informal Counselor

An SRO’s assigned campus will dictate the SRO’s specific activities and programs. In a robust program, these wide-ranging activities could include:

  • Meeting with principals each morning to exchange information gathered from parents, community members, and social media to detect potential spillover of threats, drug activity, and other behavior onto campus.
  • Meeting with campus and community social workers to understand when and how at-home issues may be motivating a student’s disruptive behavior in order to work with school staff to ensure effective and supportive responses.
  • Carrying two radios, one for school and one for the local law enforcement department, to monitor for and respond to issues on campus, or to be a familiar face if one of their students is involved in an incident off campus.
  • Listening to students’ concerns about bullying by other students and taking those problems to school administrators to help develop solutions.
  • Providing counseling and referrals when sex-abuse victims turn to them for help because of the relationship of trust officers have built with the students.
  • Coordinating additional law enforcement resources to assist with large public events on school campuses, such as athletic events, dances, and community functions.
  • Working with school administrators to keep the school’s emergency management plan updated.
  • Scheduling and participating in emergency drills in conjunction with other local agencies.
  • Coordinating a crime scene investigator to speak to biology classes.
  • Instructing students on technology awareness, domestic violence, traffic-stop education, and bullying.
  • Developing intervention, skills-development, and healthy lifestyle programs for elementary and middle school students so they are prepared to succeed in high school.
  • Conducting home visits to contact parents of at-risk students and assist those families.
  • During extended school-day programs, assisting students with their homework, playing basketball, and sharing dinner together.
  • Creating and conducting a distracted driving course for students.
  • Hosting summer activities. One idea is “bike rodeos” for students, that include bicycles donated by local merchants and the police department.
  • Implementing programs like “Doing the Right Thing”, where educators select one student each month for lunch with the SRO and a photo in the local newspaper in recognition of their leadership skills.

Ideas sourced from NASRO.

Ready to get started on the Roadmap to Safer Schools? Contact Crux today..

Characteristics to Look for When Identifying Troubled Students

March 26, 2019|Drew Deatherage

There is no debate that identifying threats before they happen is key to making our schools safer. This task is not simple. Students today have a complex life and display many emotions. This list of characteristics is a great place for SROs to start learning how to identify troubled students.

  • History of tantrums and uncontrollable angry outbursts
  • Often resorts to name calling, cursing or abusive language
  • Habitually makes violent threats when angry
  • Has previously taken a weapon to school
  • Has a background of serious disciplinary problems
  • Is on the fringe of his/her peer group with few or no close friends
  • Is preoccupied with weapons, explosives, or other incendiary devices
  • Has previously been truant, suspended or expelled from school
  • Displays cruelty to animals
  • Has little or no supervision and support from parents or a caring adult
  • Has witnessed or been a victim of abuse or neglect in the home
  • Has been bullied and/or bullies or intimidates peers or younger children
  • Tends to blame others for difficulties and problems he or she causes
  • Prefers print and digital media that expresses violent themes and acts
  • Reflects anger, frustration and the dark side of life in school essays or writing projects
  • Is involved with a gang or an antisocial group on the fringe of peer acceptance
  • Is often depressed and/or has significant mood swings
  • Has threatened or attempted suicide

Several states have recognized the critical importance of increasing SRO presence and training as a proven way to reduce the chance of school violence. NASRO recommends that each school have at least one specially trained SRO, however, many schools continue to lack even one.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott released a School Safety Action Plan in 2018. The plan observes that the best way to reduce the impact of school violence is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. The plan’s recommendations include:

  • Collaboration between school officials and local law enforcement to heighten police presence on school campuses.
  • Prioritized hiring of retired peace officers for school security, specifically, police officers, sheriff deputies, constables, and military veterans.
  • Supporting an effective school marshal program by increasing the number of participants, providing extensive firearms training for participants, and increase funding towards establishing and running school marshal programs.

A Plan to Improve School Safety and Security – Part 1

October 18, 2018|Drew Deatherage

The need for every school system to have a comprehensive school safety and security plan has never been greater and the good news is that you don’t have to figure it out all on your own.

There is a Roadmap to help us create safer schools.

The news and school crime statistics paint a challenging picture for educators in the United States today.  While the number of incidents involving weapons on our school campuses is on the rise, the media magnifies every incident no matter the scale.

Even though our schools are some of the safest places on earth, the increase in violence and the heightened focus from the media is causing an ever-increasing level of anxiety for students, parents, and teachers alike creating pressure to ACT. Couple this with the fact that administrators and school board members are absolutely bombarded with vendors offering “THE SOLUTION” that will solve all of your problems. It is a lot to sort through. 

The Roadmap to Safer Schools gives you a plan

Our consultants have decades of experience in working with schools of all sizes. Through our experience with thousands of schools, we have developed a comprehensive process to help guide you through creating a logical safety and security framework. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for school safety.

We help you through the maze of decisions that need to be made by analyzing your current situation, examining what solutions are most appropriate for your schools and community, and working with you to build a master safety and security plan.  

The Roadmap takes you through Six Proven Steps

Step 1 – Engage 

It is important to understand what your stakeholders think about, worry about, and find concerning. We engage students, teachers, parents, and administrators through a series of surveys, working groups, and focus groups. 

Step 2 – Involve

Most school systems have a safety and security committee. In our experience they are often not as comprehensive or as engaged as you would like them to be. We use Step 1 to identify who else might be a good fit for an ongoing committee that is truly committed to bringing results. 

 Step 3 – Assess

We work with you to assess the current state of safety and security throughout your facilities. We look at the physical elements as well as evaluate policies and procedures. We tailor the assessment for your situation. 

Step 4 – Plan

Now that we have worked with you to collect all the information about where we are and what is most important, we build a plan. That plan lays out what needs to be done, who will do it, and when it will be completed. Focus on the right things in the right order and you will be amazed at what can get done.

Step 5 – Execute

Now it’s time to put the plan into action. Often the school system will already have architects, engineers, and security specialists on board. If not, we have the resources to help you with design, project management, and training. 

Step 6 – Evaluate

What gets measured gets done. We encourage you to bring in an outside team to evaluate your progress every year. This can also be a chance to stay connected with your stakeholders and demonstrate real progress. 

A. P. J. Abdul Kalam said, “Teaching is a very noble profession that shapes the character, caliber, and future of an individual.” I couldn’t agree with him more and being an educator has never been more challenging than it is today. 

Categories: blog, K-12, school safety